The rain stops, and the walkathon at Pasir Ris Park begins. Father Johnson Fernandez (in the grey T-shirt), who oversees the building of the new church and parish community, walks alongside his parishioners. Photo by Valentine Ong
Church of Divine Mercy Walkathon and Family Day builds community bonds, raises building funds
SINGAPORE – Echoing the devotional words of the Divine Mercy prayer, “Jesus we trust in You”, the downpour on Monday morning Aug 10 did not wash out the enthusiasm and attendance of the 350 people who turned up for Church of Divine Mercy (CDM) Walkathon and Family Day at Pasir Ris Park.
When the rain fell two hours before the walkathon’s flag-off time at 8.30am, Lorna Chng, 35, choir member with CDM was concerned that the event would be cancelled. A call to the organising committee was met with a reassuring response that the day’s activities would proceed as planned, and that the committee had prayed for the rain to stop.
The rain cleared a few minutes before 8.30am and a fresh cool breeze blew through the park and allowed the participants, both young and old, to commence the 1.5-kilometre walk.
“We went with one heart and managed to have fun,” Madam Chng said.
The morning also saw many fun-filled and interesting activities with the likes of “body-tattoos”, face-painting, a magic show, table soccer and an indoor golf lawn. The children volunteered and participated in singing, saying grace and various stage activities.
While some people participated in the activities, others sat about the lawn to chat and bond with one another over finger food prepared by a Pasir Ris Catholic resident.
Describing the day as beneficial to community building, Madam Chng said the event allowed for future CDM parishioners to get to know one another and will help build a homely environment so that the new parish will not be one comprised of strangers who just attend Mass without much community interaction.
Fred Ho, 59, also agrees that the event helps to build fellowship and foster parish bonds before the physical church is formed.
“The event brought about so many people both young and old. It’s very encouraging that despite the wet morning, many came to participate. This is all in the spirit of oneness,” Mr Ho added.
Both Madam Chng and Mr Ho are eagerly waiting for the new church to be ready “so we can all work together under one roof”.
While the walkathon aimed to raise money for the church building fund, it is the first mass event to see future CDM parishioners living in the Pasir Ris and Loyang areas come together for fellowship. Most of the parishioners currently worship at St. Anne’s Church (Sengkang), Church of the Holy Trinity (Tampines) and other East District parishes.
The funds raised from the walkathon came to about $218,000. To date, $11 million out of $12 million have been raised for the church building fund. The CDM community, which took over the fundraising efforts in January, hopes to meet the $12 million target required to for the church building. But there is still a need for funds for the interior of the church, systems and other installations.
The church hopes to open its doors to the 4,500 Catholics in the Pasir Ris and Loyang districts by Christmas 2009.
To make a contribution to CDM’s building fund, please make out a cheque to The Church of Divine Mercy c/o Church of the Holy Trinity, 20 Tampines Street 11, Singapore 529455.
By Darren Boon and Tricia Kat