[Recap] KA’s Pilgrimage to Novena Church, Singapore

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Kristus Aman’s senior parishioners were once more treated to an outing cum pilgrimage to the newly renovated Church of St. Alphonsus, more popularly known as Novena Church on Thompson Road, Singapore on 21 May 2018.

On the afternoon the day before, two luxury coaches with 58 pilgrims together with 2 priests – Fr Michael Chua and Fr Dominic Tan left Taman Tun Dr Ismail for Majodi Centre , Johor , where they were to spend the night and then to proceed to Singapore early the next morning for Mass at Novena Church.

Dinner was specially ordered at a “home-cooking “ restaurant at Yong Peng. The menu was of authentic Hock Chew cuisine with the delectable red wine chicken and other savoury dishes.

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After a breakfast of fried beehoon and sausages at Majodi Centre the next morning, Fr Sebastian Koh joined us for the pilgrimage. We got through heavy traffic at JB and the Immigration at the CIQ. When we arrived at Novena Church we found the old church surroundings totally transformed. The old Church was still standing but as an annexe to the new Church majestically towering beside it like a big brother.

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We were divided into 4 groups each with a “tour leader” from the Church to show us around the new Church section by section and what the renovation had entailed. The renovations included new structures for a new church built over the piece of land which had previously housed offices, canteen and some open space that was beside the old church. Renovation work started in 2014 and it was to take three and half years to complete. The new Church was opened on 29 September 2017.

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We were informed that the beautiful stained glass windows were configured by an Italian artist Roberto Faiso who spend 3 years working at the worksite, drawing and then painting images of the saints and the various scenes on the life of Christ. On the other hand, the Crosses for the Stations of the Cross were imported from Philippines. Marble tiles for the flooring was from Italy, the ambo from Birmingham, UK, but refurbished in Spain, and the 65 kg sanctuary lamp was designed by the project architect Melvin Gamayot but made in Spain. The huge tabernacle in a recess in the wall was from the United States. The church is fully air-conditioned during worship times with the air vents subtly incorporated into the design of the internal structures.

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From the outside the new Church looked like it was lifted from one of the cities in Europe except that it was spanking new. It was designed in the Gothic style with soaring granite arches outside but clad in limestone on the inside, with a dome and 18 large stained glass windows. The intricate columns were an inspiration from the Bible of King Solomon’s Temple structures which were inlaid with engravings of palm trees. Architect Melvin Gamayot had tried to replicate the temple scene in the columns of the main sanctuary in the curved limestone segments by creating the appearance of thin palm tree trunks with ribs reaching up for the heavens.

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Outside, the old car park was elevated to become a plaza to cater for an even greater seating capacity from the new limit of 1,500 within the Church. The new car park is now underground. The whole project cost SGD54 million. It is obvious a lot of effort had been put into the renovations of this Church famous for its Novenas and answered prayers.

Mass was con-celebrated by our 3 priests with the main celebrant Fr Gerard Louis, who acknowledged us visitors from KA in the 12.15 Mass.

The journey home was broken by timely toilet and dinner stops. Overall the pilgrimage was very well organised. Thank you PIHD leaders for the effort put in and thank you Mary Chong for the intricate planning of the whole trip.

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