Holy Door Visit In Penang

Kristus Aman BECCOT successfully organised a trip to Bukit Mertajam’s Church of St Anne and Church of the Divine Mercy in Bayan Lepas on Penang Island on 7 & 8 November 2016. The “pilgrims” consisted of 40 in the bus and another 15 who went in their own vehicles. Of this very enthusiastic group, the youngest was Jenelle Ho, 7, and the oldest, Maria Chee, 91.

At 6.30 am on 7 November, all the pilgrims gathered at Kristus Aman Chapel for Fr Michael Chua’s sending off prayer for the journey north. The bus stopped at a specially chosen food court in Ipoh for the busload of 40 to have breakfast. Adrian Ho, who planned the trip had chosen the most appropriate “makan” place where Kuala Lumpurians could stretch their ringgit and with toilet facilities easily available.

At St Anne’s, our KA pilgrims stood patiently in the drizzle and took turns to go through the Holy Door in the old Church before proceeding to have Mass at one of the rooms in the new wing. Fr Michael’s homily was about how the word “scandalous” has changed today. In the days of the time the Bible was written, those who left the Church or who led others astray were guilty of creating a scandal. Those who were not aligned to the thinking of the Church were viewed as a stumbling block in the way of those who were on the journey to Christ. In that way, we too become “scandalous”.

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In the day’s Gospel Reading (Luke 17:3-6) about continual forgiving, once the sinner is admonished, and after counselling, the sinner should be ever ready to accept repentance. Fr Michael also touched on the demand that the Church lower its threshold on its moral teachings to accommodate modernity. In answer to that, he said that there should not be any compromise, but to counsel with faith and love. Faith need not be grand but only as big as a mustard seed. Mass ended with special blessings from Fr. Michael on couples celebrating their anniversaries and on those whose birthdays were in November.

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After lunch, the pilgrims headed for College General, along Jalan Cengai, in Tanjung Bungah, Penang Island. The present location of College General is called “Mariophile” which means “Lover of Mary”.  What began initially as a holiday villa for seminarians and professors back in 1849 when the Paris Foreign Mission Fathers (MEP) first bought the land, today, it houses the main College General grounds, when the main administration building moved from Pulau Tikus in 1984.

Fr Michael in his briefing at the statue of the 5 Martyrs narrated that the College General, formerly known as the “Seminary of the Holy Angels”, was originally established as a central seminary to train priests from Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma and other South-east Asian countries. Throughout more than a 200 year history of its existence on Penang Island, many were persecuted, to the extent of being brutally tortured and executed as martyrs under various circumstances in their struggle to propagate the Faith when they returned to their home countries. A number of relics from the martyrs, including the venerable remains of the 19th century Vietnamese martyr Fr Paul Chau are interred in the Chapel of the Sacred Heart, up on the hill at College General. This elegant 111 year-old Chapel also contains first class relics of the Martyrs from Vietnam, Korea, Thailand, as well as relics of St Anthony of Padua and St Therese of the Child Jesus.

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Accommodation at Stella Maris was with the accompaniment of sea breeze and constant sound of waves breaking on the beach. While the air was damp, somehow the rain was held back. (Just before we left KL, Penang was experiencing floods from heavy rain). The rooms were adequately furnished with all the necessities and the beds were comfortable. Even towels were provided. Food courts and restaurants were just round the corner.

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Tuesday 8 November started early with Mass at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Pulau Tikus.

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Breakfast was at the cafe just across the Church, famous for its local hawker fare and the pilgrims were introduced to the famous Indian “apom” established since 1974 and “roti babi”, a hit with some and shared generously. There was just too much variety to try.

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After breakfast, we made a pit-stop at one of Penang’s Specialities shop to sample and shop for all the must-buys. Some of us were also fortunate enough to enjoy a free shoulder massage to relief the aches and pains from all the walking (and eating!)

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The next stop was across the island to the Church of the Divine Mercy (CDM) at Bayan Lepas – the newest Church on the island. After a short briefing on the history of the church by Peter of CDM, all pilgrims were led to do the St. Faustina Walk of Mercy around the church compound. The Walk of Mercy consists of 14 stations, each reflecting on the 7 Corporal and 7 Spiritual Works of Mercy..

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After the walk, the pilgrims were led through the 3-Dimensional Holy Door. They had the opportunity to touch the outstretched Hand of Christ, His Heart and His Feet.

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The Parish Priest, Fr. Martin Arlando later gave an explanation on the significance of the image carving of Christ and the Icons of Mercy on the reverse-side of the door. Relics of St Faustina and St John Paul II were also exposed in the church. The pilgrimage concluded with the renewal of our Baptismal Vows, led by Fr. Michael with the sprinkling of Holy Water upon each pilgrim.

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We concluded our pilgrimage with a late seafood lunch on the mainland @ Bukit Tambun, along with some unscheduled stops including Ipoh’s famous biscuit shop on the way back. It was an event-filled and meaningful journey, thanks to Fr Michael and his arsenal of local church history and his meaningful homilies. Special thanks also go to the organisers for taking the trouble to make sure that the bus was getting to the right stops, and for making arrangements for the meals and accommodation. Thank you too to Christopher Wee, the class monitor on the bus and to all who helped make the pilgrimage a success.

Lena Khaw, Aaron Lim & Adrian Ho

Holy Door Penang 12Church of St. Anne, Bukit Mertajam

Holy Door Penang 13College General, Tanjung Bungah

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