The sun beat down on the backs of the thousands who stood in the carpark, fanning themselves and waiting in anticipation of the Our Lady procession to begin at the Novena Church on Sept 7.
The 61st anniversary of the yearly procession was the final one before the church closes for renovations.
“I’m very sad. I don’t know if I’ll be able to live to see the next procession,” said 88-year-old Theresa Klyne who has never missed the annual Novena procession since it first started in 1953.
The celebration was a communal affair as those in the carpark ate food and sat on foldable chairs and rattan mats while waiting for “The Joy of the Gospel with Mary” Novena procession to begin.
The pews and plastic chairs in the main hall were already packed by 2.30pm despite the procession starting at 6pm.
Half an hour before the procession, a man and woman led the congregation in a lively praise-and-worship session. Accompanied by a live band, the lady named “Ross” sang loudly as her black and blue sari fluttered in the breeze.
As the congregation prayed the rosary and sang hymns with the aid of words flashed on screens throughout the church, boys and girls threw flower petals as women carrying the Our Mother of Perpetual Help icon made their way slowly around the carpark towards the main altar.
The Mass was presided over by the Vice-Provincial Superior of the Redemptorists in Singapore and Malaysia, Fr Patrick Massang, and the homily delivered by Redemptorist Fr Joseph Stephen.
During the homily, Fr Joseph posed a question to the 15,000 present: “Are Christians joyful people?”
As dark clouds began blanketing the sky, he invited them to reflect on the theme, The Joy of the Gospel with Mary, and pray and understand what joy actually meant.
Fr Massang then placed the crown on top of the Marian icon while the “Families for Consecration” book was placed at the foot.. It was announced that the book contained 93,200 consecrations to Our Lady from families.
People in the congregation clapped and many were seen whipping out their phones to snap photos.
Mr Lawrence Png, 79, who attended the last Our Lady procession, feels that “it’s a joy to know that there will be a new church. We can look forward to new activities. I’ll come back every year.”
At the end of the procession, Novena Church rector Fr Simon Tan said that the church was still in need of funds.
By Lorna O’Hara
|Updates on new Novena Church and services
In a phone interview with CatholicNews, Fr Simon Tan revealed that the new main church hall would be able to sit 2,000 people – up from 700.
Other facilities include an auditorium which can house up to 200 people, a multi-purpose hall, a spacious canteen and three to four meeting rooms. He added that the main church hall would also be air-conditioned.
Fr Simon said he hopes the new church would be ready by the middle of 2016.
The last Novena service would be on Sept 28. However, services would continue at the Church of the Risen Christ from Oct 4 on Saturdays at 8am, 9am, 10am, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm (Mandarin). Masses would also be held on Sundays at SJI Junior at 8am, 10am and noon.
Slightly over $6.1 million still needs to be raised – $5.3 million for the church infrastructure and $823,478 for 19 panels of stained glass from Milan, Italy.