Jeremiah Liauw, who suffers from a spinal condition, served his first Mass in a wheelchair at the Church of Divine Mercy on May 14.
“Jerry” as he is often called, suffers from spina bifida, a condition that affects the spine. The backbone that protects the spinal cord does not form and close as it should. This often results in damage to the spinal cord and nerves.
During the Saturday evening Mass, the 10-year-old from St Joseph’s Institution Junior was helped around the altar by a fellow altar server.
A ramp, built by a parishioner for Jerry, was also used for him to have better access to the altar.
During the celebration, Jeremiah brought water to Fr Valerian Cheong for him to wash his hands for the preparation of the gifts.
After the Mass, parishioners could be seen coming up to Jerry to congratulate him on serving his first Mass.
“I felt really excited and nervous at the same time,” Jerry told CatholicNews after the Mass.
“I have always wanted to be an altar server since the day I saw them [altar servers] at the altar.”
It was earlier this year that Jerry was approached by Fr Johnson Fernandez, parish priest of the Church of Divine Mercy. Jerry said that: “he came up to me after Mass and asked if I wanted to be a server.”
“I had asked mummy before whether she had seen someone like me be a server or priest before and she told me to pray about it. Before Fr Johnson left, he told me to pray about it too,” said Jerry.
Fr Johnson shared that he had noticed Jerry paying special attention to the things happening at the altar and he felt prompted to speak to Jerry after Mass.
Mrs Michele Liauw, Jerry’s mother, said that Fr Johnson later requested from the church that a ramp be built at the altar for Jerry.
“He [Fr Johnson] and Fr Terence [Kesavan] have been so supportive of us throughout this journey and we can’t thank them enough,” she said.
A week before his first Mass, Jerry attended the commissioning Mass for altar servers together with his elder brother, Nathaniel, 14.
Nathaniel, previously an altar server at the Church of Christ the King, was also commissioned that day. “I’m glad that he is an altar server, we’re now closer as brothers,” said Nathaniel, who also served Mass with Jerry on May 14.
The two brothers may not always serve Mass together due to their different schedules.
Jerry said that he is “looking to serve more Masses” and thanks God “for the opportunity to serve and glorify Him”.
His advice to those may want to be of service to the Church but suffer from physical conditions: “Don’t give up on your dream. My dream was to become an altar server.”
By Jared Ng