PETALING JAYA: What started out as a dream 16 years ago, has now become a reality. For years the parishioners of St Thomas More (STM) faithfully worshipped God in shop-lots, factory outlets and college halls. But on April 10, parishioners from Subang Jaya, USJ and Putra Heights finally had a permanent place to call HOME. Situated in an industrial area, this supposedly warehouse has now become a house of God. Crowds of people started pouring in as early as 1.00pm although the ceremony was scheduled to start at 4.00pm.
Plastic chairs and tents were put up around the church for the expected crowd of 3000. People of other nearby churches too came together to celebrate this special occasion. It was noticeable that the parishioners of STM were beaming with pride and awe of this church. “We are all really excited and overwhelmed,” said Raymond Michael from the choir of STM.
The choir had been practising their hymns for six weeks. “I am tremendously excited and I couldn’t sleep since 3.00am,” said another parishioner, Marie Goonting. By 3.00pm the church was packed, both inside and out. The church doors were closed at 4.00pm. Archbishop Murphy Pakiam led the other priests to the door of the church and knocked on it using the crosier. The door opened and the celebration began with the greetings of the Archbishop. James Pushparatnam, as Chairman of the building committee, presented the key of the church to the Archbishop.
The key was then presented to STM’s Parish Priest Fr Simon Labrooy. The bishop then invited the procession of 22 concelebrating priests to enter the church. Hymns were sung loudly by the whole congregation. Excitement was definitely the mood of the evening. The Archbishop blessed the water and then, accompanied by the other priests, passed through the main body of the Church, sprinkling the people and the walls with holy water.
The Archbishop then approached the sanctuary and sprinkled the altar and the ambo with holy water. The rite of dedication together with the litany of saints commenced. The anointing of the altar and the columns of the church was very interesting and it was obvious that people paid great attention to what the Archbishop was doing. He anointed the altar by first pouring the Sacred Chrism oil in the centre and then at the four corners. He then rubbed the oil into the altar.
Four other priests anointed the columns of the church at twelve designated points. The altar represents Christ, who is the head of the body and the columns and walls represent the people who are the church. The twelve columns signify that the building is an image of the heavenly city of Jerusalem. The incensing of the altar, people and church was next.
Incense was burnt to signify Christ’s sacrifice and it ascends to God as an odour of sweetness. It is also a sign that the prayers of the people rise up pleasing and acceptable, reaching the throne of God. The clothing of the altar was done followed by the lighting of the altar and church.
The inauguration of the tabernacle with the Blessed Sacrament was the last in accordance with the tradition of the blessing of the church. After the final blessings, the Archbishop delivered his speech. “St Thomas More is a model for our society today and an exemplary model of family life. It is important for us today to pray to this model father and faithful husband for a special grace to our family life.” He also thanked all those who tried their best to get this church for the community and was happy to see the level of enthusiasm each one of them had.
He was also very happy to see Fr Larry Tan SJ who came down from Taiwan to be with everyone during this occasion, citing that it was Fr Tan’s earnest pleas that made them decide to have a parish in Subang Jaya. He also thanked the CDD and Jesuit fathers who have dedicated their lives nurturing the faith of the people. He also expressed his thanks to the Catholic family leaders and congratulated them. Besides that, he thanked the architect for being a great hero in overseeing this project to completion.
“He took this project with a smile and got a wonderful response from the community.” When it was Fr Simon Labrooy’s turn to deliver his speech, there was thunderous clapping. “To all parishioners of Subang Jaya, USJ and Putra Heights, this is your HOME! To all our friends who have come from far, WELCOME TO OUR HOME!” He thanked Archbishop Pakiam, fellow priests, brothers and sisters for coming. He also thanked the Selangor State Government, the police and MPSJ for all their commitment towards making this celebration a success.
“I can’t mention all of you, but you know who you are. We’ll take the lead, to stand up for justice and truth and to be a sign for the world to know. Of course, all of this would be impossible without God.” The celebration ended with fellowship and a grand dinner was served. As the parishioners left for home, it was with hearts full of thanksgiving to God for giving them a place to call their OWN. The day truly ended on a joyous note. — By Audrey Soosay