Artist’s impression of the new church building, which was revealed during the Sept 4 Our Lady’s Procession.

Novena Church, which sees thousands of devotees flocking to its Marian devotions every Saturday, will be renovated and expanded to cope with the growing crowds.

This was announced at the end of the annual Our Lady’s Procession and Eucharistic celebration held on Sept 4. An artist’s impression of the new church was also revealed.

Church rector Fr Simon Tan told the 12,000-strong crowd that the existing church will not be torn down, but will become part of a bigger, fully air-conditioned one.

This is because the present building has become too small for the numerous devotees, who now spill onto the carpark.

The crowd watches as the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help is crowned.

More details of the redevelopment plan for Novena Church, the popular name for Church of St Alphonsus, are expected to be announced in the coming months.

According to Fr Simon, the rebuilding will only commence when the Redemptorists have raised 70 percent of the total cost, which is estimated at $40 million. In the meantime, they will embark on fund-raising activities.

Saturday Novena devotions and Sunday Masses will not be affected. Alternative arrangements will be made when renovations actually begin.

The Marian icon is carried in procession.

Fr Patrick Massang, the Vice-Provincial Superior of the Redemptorists in Singapore and Malaysia, said the redevelopment was not only the dream of the Redemptorist community but also all those who visit the Mother of Perpetual Help shrine.

He envisaged the new church to be a fitting home for the devotion, able to meet the growing pastoral needs of people as well as stand alongside other great Redemptorist shrines around the world like Aparecida in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and Baclaran in Manila.

He called on the devotees of Our Mother of Perpetual Help to create a “tsunami of support” for the rebuilding project.

The theme for this year’s procession and crowning of Our Lady’s icon was Blessed Are You, a reflection on the Beatitudes. The Redemptorists, in their preaching, emphasised the many blessings that people have experienced through Mary’s help and called for each person to be a blessing to others.

The procession featured the cheerful sounds of bagpipes and drums as the St Joseph’s Institution Pipe Band, together with the Novena Church Combined Choir, led the congregation in the singing of Marian hymns.

LED lights were also installed to create a special glow while the congregation waved LED torches in the night sky as the icon was crowned.

The day after the procession, in what has become a tradition, the Redemptorist Mission Team held a youth rally at the church, which featured songs, dance, skits, talks and a healing service.

The Redemptorists started the Novena devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Singapore in 1949. It has since grown from its beginnings in a little makeshift chapel to the present church, which was built and opened in 1950.

The current Saturday Novenas attract about 15,000 every week with devotees coming from diverse backgrounds.

By Fr Gerard Louis, CSsR and Michelle Lazar

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