Devotees gathered around to photograph the crowned icon of Our Lady. Photos: MICHAEL LIEW

Jared Ng

“Mary, Our Mother of Perpetual Help, we remember today all the times you have stood by us fervently in prayer ... We ask that you continue to pray for us and our families.”

Redemptorist Father Simon Pereira proclaimed these heartfelt words during his homily at the Sept 2 Mass which was the first procession of Our Lady’s icon since Novena Church underwent a major rebuilding programme in 2015. The church was officially reopened in September last year.

Against the backdrop of the natural disasters and conflicts that have impacted countries as well as the scandals in the Church, Fr Simon implored Our Lady to continue to watch over the faithful and “help us be a community that cares for the poor and abandoned.”

Rector Fr Peter Wee, in his address at the end of Mass, said that “Mary is indeed a treasure that Jesus has given to the whole Church ... Ultimately, she wants us to look at Jesus.”

Thousands packed the church grounds eager to catch a glimpse of the icon of Our Lady as it made its way solemnly around the compound. Those seated in the church watched the event unfold via television screens. In unison they sang hymns as the icon made its way around.

The icon of Our Lady making its way around the church compound.

Many arrived well before the 6 pm procession to take part in praise and worship and the rosary recitation.

Ms Jane Ong, who brought her two sons for their first procession, said she was left “speechless and in awe” as the icon of Our Lady made its way past her. “Our local Church community’s devotion to Mary is so powerful and I think this was never more evident than today,” she said.

Mr Gary Sim, who has been attending the annual procession for about 40 years, said, “I missed the celebration so much when Novena was under repair. I would walk by [the church] almost every day waiting for this day to come and I was moved to tears when it finally happened. All love to our dearest Mother and Jesus Our Saviour.” 

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