It is assumed that as early as the 14th century, Sabah then called Borneo was visited by the Franciscan and Jesuit missionaries. It was only until the 19th century that a Prefecture was established with its headquarters based in Labuan, an island on the north-west coast of Borneo. During this time many mission stations were set up. One of them was the St. Mary¡¦s Mission at Sandakan, a small town situated on the North East Coast of Borneo. St. Mary's was eventually taken care of by the Mill Hill Fathers and Sisters. Please refer to the table below for the Priests who had helped shape the present St. Mary's .
From a humble attap ( a wooden hut) this mission station was later transformed into one of the most beautiful landmarks. In 1952 after the post war years, Rev. Fr. A. Mulders arrived in Sandakan and wasted no time in getting down to business with a bulldozer. He changed the entire mission compound beyond recognition and made it one of the finest sites in Sandakan. In 1961, initiated by Fr. Mulders, Sandakan got the "Most Beautiful Church". Over 700 parishioners from all walks of life witnessed the consecration in a long but beautiful ceremony solemnized by his Lordship Bishop Buis, CBE, the Vicar Apostolic of Jesselton. After the opening ceremony Rev. Fr. Mulders celebrated the first Mass on the newly consecrated High Altar. St. Mary's Church continues to stand today as a place of worship for the community of Sandakan. Since then, many outstation missions have been established both in the urban and rural areas of Sandakan.