An estimated crowd of 12,000 packed the grounds of Novena Church.

SINGAPORE – This year, holds special significance for the Annual Procession at the Church of St. Alphonsus, more commonly known as Novena Church, as the Redemptorists in Singapore and Malaysia celebrate 75 years of their presence, reveling in the joy and the blessings that have come along all these years.

On Nov 9, 1732, led by the Holy Spirit, our father St. Alphonsus founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer for the purpose of preaching the Gospel to the poor and abandoned. In the year 1935, this same Spirit led Frs Aloysius Brennan, James Green, John Moran, Thomas Borthistle and Brs. Denis and Felix, sons of St. Alphonsus to Singapore. Over the years, with the blessing of God and through the intercession of Our Lady, the seed they planted has grown.

So many have experienced moments of joy and sorrow at the Novena. Here, people have encountered God’s plentiful redemption and Our Mother’s love, they have found hope in their suffering and answers to their prayers. The stories of the people are similar and equally resounding – the power of Our Lady’s intercession and Perpetual Help have kept the faithful coming back for years.

Archbishop Nicholas Chia blesses Our Lady’s Crown.

Margaret Khoo has been attending the Procession for the last 50 years since she was a teenager. She comes every year in honour of Our Lady. Amelia Yeo and Kelly Ng started coming to the Procession since attending the RCIA (Rites for Christian Initiation for Adults) at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church 2 years ago. Since then, they have made the Procession an annual tradition. Benny Nah, is another who has been coming to the Procession for more than 45 years. Benny, a Communion Minister at this year’s procession, has been a volunteer for a couple of years and finds it “an honour to be involved and is happy to be able to serve”. He was drawn to the Catholic faith, along with his wife and daughter, through the Novena services he attended as a teenager.

Julie Danker, her daughter and her parents came a few hours early to ensure that they get their favourite spot. This is a family tradition started by her parents, who came to the Procession with their children. Julie has been a flower girl, her daughter followed her footsteps and her son later became an an altar boy.

As with every year, the grounds and the streets across the Church were packed with devotees, this year estimated at 12,000. This year’s theme, One God, One World, One People was based on the Social Doctrine of the Church. During nine weeks of preaching at the Saturday Novenas and the Triduum before the event, the faithful were reminded how all of us are together in this journey of faith and life leading toward the One God, and how our faith must bear fruit in the practice of justice and care for creation.

To mark the anniversary, the beautiful Litany of the Crowning of Our Lady was put to music by former church organist Rafael Oei, now residing in Canada, and was chanted as the Crowning took place. In addition to the many local religious and priests, Redemptorists from the USA, Canada, Australia and the local region were present. The homilist was the Redemptorist Provincial Superior of Australia, Fr. Paul Bird. He emphasized the importance of justice and the teachings of the Popes as to how we are called to live our faith in practical ways.

The Procession kicked off a week of celebrations for the 75th Anniversary, with the musical The Reluctant Saint, culminating in a Gala Dinner celebration at the Singapore Expo.

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