A life of selfless service

Rottensteiner, who spent decades helping the native communities in Miri Diocese, died in a missionary retirement home in northern Italy.

MIRI: Pioneering Mill Hill Catholic missionary Bro Albert Rottensteiner, who was well-known for his work with the Sarawak native communities, passed away aged 87.

The Italian missionary who was Malaysian PR holder, died at the missionary retirement home in Brixen town in northern Italy on April 29.

He had served in Miri Catholic Diocese in northern Sarawak for 38 years, transforming the lives of thousands of Orang Ulu natives before retiring and returning to Italy in 2000.

Orang Ulu National Association chairman for Sarawak Peter Kallang said the late Rottensteiner was a hero to the local natives.

“I was on the phone talking to him on April 29 and several hours later I received a message from a friend that he had collapsed and died after a meal,” said the activist who is a long-time friend.

According to Kallang, Rottensteiner was born in 1933 and came to Sarawak in 1963.

“By the time he returned to Italy in 2000, he was holding a Malaysian PR, a recognition from the government for his role in transforming the native communities in Miri Diocese, especially in Marudi and Long San where he served the longest.

“When he was here, he built the St Pius Primary School and St Paul Church, started a trading complex in Long San, modernised farming there and built and commissioned a micro-hydro dam in Long San, believed to be the first such micro dam in Sarawak,” said Kallang.

Rottensteiner also constructed the Long San clinic and taught modern agriculture methods, commerce, technical skills in carpentry and electrical wiring to local natives, said Kallang.

He noted that the Italian turned around the lives of thousands of poor natives.

“I have never met anyone so innovative, hardworking, spiritual, disciplined and friendly like Bro Albert,” Kallang told StarMetro.

The micro dam built by the Rottensteiner in 1979 provides electricity for some 3,000 natives in Long San and its vicinity, a remote enclave located six hours by timber road from Miri.

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