SFA Church blessed and opened

After eleven years of planning, fundraising and building, the parishioners of the Church of St Francis of Assisi (SFA), finally witnessed the dedicati

Oct 12, 2018

By Lavinia Louis
After eleven years of planning, fundraising and building, the parishioners of the Church of St Francis of Assisi (SFA), finally witnessed the dedication of their newly built Church and community centre on Oct 4. It was also the Feast of St Francis of Assisi and the 25th sacerdotal ordination anniversary of Fr Paul Cheong OFM Cap.

Accompanied by the beating of drums (Chinese and India culture), kompang and the blowing of the Jewish horn (shofar), Archbishop Julian Leow led the procession from the Chapel of Portiuncula to the main entrance of the church at 7.00pm. At the entrance of the church, a member of the building steering committee, Michael Ong and the architect, Don Cheong, handed over the legal documents and the keys to the church to the archbishop. Archbishop Leow gave the keys to the parish priest Fr Andrew Manickam OFM cap to unlock the door. Once the door was opened, Archbishop Leow invited everyone to enter.

In his homily, Archbishop Leow said that the faithful would have an overdose of signs and symbols reflecting the order of Mass. He congratulated the priest and people for the completion of the new building, which was a source of joy. He then reminded them that now it was time to build the community

The rite of dedication began with the litany of supplication, followed by the rite of the anointing of the altar and church walls with the Sacred Chrism. This was followed by the incensing, lighting and dressing of the altar in preparation for the Eucharist.

After Holy Communion, the faithful witnessed the Inauguration of the Tabernacle. The candles and oil lamps near the tabernacle were then lit, symbolising the presence of Christ.

The chairman of the organising committee, Chris Tan, in his speech thanked everyone who was involved and worked tirelessly day and night to ensure the day went on smoothly.

The Church of SFA has grown from a humble chapel in 1964 to this majestic building in 2018. The Indian friars first came to Malaya at the invitation of Bishop Michel Olcomendy. They continued their stay in the Kuala Lumpur Diocese at the request of Bishop Dominic Vendargon. Their mission — to preach to the Tamil-speaking community living in the estates and peripheries. Fr Michael Raymond OFM Cap, Custos, Malaysia Custody shared this in his speech.

He also highlighted the presence of the Indian friars, Fr Jonathan who served in Archdiocese and Fr Mariadass who was the second parish priest.

“The idea for the building first started with Fr Joe Matthews OFM Cap, continued on with Fr Valentine Gompok OFM Cap and is now completed through Fr Andrew,” explained Fr Michael.

Jubilarian Fr Cheong in his speech said, “Twenty-five years ago, in a small and simple church, I was ordained a priest by the then Archbishop Soter Fernandez. Today, I celebrate 25 years as a priest in a totally new, big church.

“I am grateful that I still find deep meaning, purpose, joy and fulfilment in my priestly life and ministry,” he added

“My wish now is to make meditation the central activity of my life. According to the teachings of John Main, meditation is the way to simplicity, to poverty of spirit and to purity of heart. For only the pure of heart can see God.

‘’It is my fervent desire that the external beauty of this church will lead us to simple desire and cultivate this inner beauty and freedom of simplicity. The inner beauty of poverty of spirit, the inner beauty of simplicity and the inner beauty of purity of heart. Everything we do must lead to the purity of the heart. That is my desire and I wish the same for you,” said Fr Cheong at the end of his speech.

“It is not only the building that makes the church, all of you that fill this sacred space are the Church. Let us always remember to build communities who are faithful to God. To build our nation through our efforts to strengthen the bonds of unity not just within Catholics or Christians of all faiths,” said Archbishop Leow.

“I believe this is the role SFA can play, to lead the way in interreligious dialogue, to help build harmony in Malaysia and beyond borders, to be an example for others. Malaysia boleh,” he added.

Also present at the celebration were YB Dr Jeyakumar Xavier, Minister of Water, Land and Natural Resources, Dato’ Sri Dr Edmund Santhara Segamat MP, pastors, leaders of other faiths, clergy and religious brothers and sisters.

To commemorate the event, a 240-page souvenir magazine is on sale. Those interested to purchase a copy can contact the parish office at 016-3258236.

SFA has six first class relics
“We have waited two years since the consturction and it is great to see everything fall into place today. Thank you all for your hard work and perseverance,” said parish priest Fr Andrew Manickam OFM Cap.

“Thanks to the prayers of our parishioners and several benefactors, we have also been blessed with six first class relics during our two-year hiatus, two of which we have placed in the altar table at the Chapel of Portiuncula (Blessed Angelo) and also in the main altar in the church (St Francis of Assisi),” added Fr Andrew.

The celebration on October 4 began at 3.00pm with the veneration of SFA’s four first class relics; St Francis of Assisi, St Pio of Pietrelcina, St John Paul II and St Theresa of Kolkata.

Then, Fr Eugenio Juanilo Lopez, Minister Provincial of the Capuchins blessed the St Francis of Assisi Community Centre. This five story building consists of a multi-purpose hall, parish office, 14 classrooms, several meeting rooms and the dormitories which can house 66 beds. This same building is also where the Chapel of Portiuncula is located on Level 1.

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