The church has produced special gold-plated coins to mark its anniversary this year.

The Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary has released gold-plated coins to mark the church’s 160th anniversary this year.

The limited edition souvenir coins, which sell at $68 each, have gone on sale since the first weekend of January.

A picture of the church adorns one side of the coin while a figure of the Virgin Mary adorns the other.

A team of parishioners had studied various samples of souvenir, such as those from Lourdes, for inspiration.

The design of the coin and the image of the church was done by a parishioner who wanted to be known only as Ms Lim.

She noted that the image of the Virgin Mary was more difficult to draw due to the folds of the dress. However, the designers at the Singapore Mint lent their expertise to this.

Ms Janemarie Lim, a member of the anniversary celebrations committee who suggested the idea for the coin, said it is a souvenir and collector’s item that can be passed down across the generations within the family.

The coin has already aroused the interest of both young and old parishioners who have purchased the item for family members, added Ms Lim.

Mr Vincent Yeo-Koh, who bought three coins, said he felt the souvenir was “well designed”.

Mr Yeo-Koh, who belongs to the third-generation of Catholics from the parish, said it is a “good gift for the next generation”. He intends to give the coins to his two sons and another relative for them to “remember the church for a long time”.

Other activities are also being planned for the church’s anniversary celebrations.

These include a golf tournament at Orchid Country Club on Feb 28 followed by dinner, and a walkathon in May.

The highlight of the celebrations will be the parish feast day celebrations in September with a novena, carnival and feast day dinner. Parish priest Fr Henry Siew told CatholicNews that a day of recollection and a parish retreat would also be organised.

A special prayer has also been composed for the anniversary.

The origins of the church can be traced to an attap chapel built in 1852 which was later replaced by a brick chapel named St Mary’s Chapel. Fr Jean Casimir Saleilles, parish priest from 1881-1911 built the present church in 1901, which was renamed the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Meanwhile, the parish plans to assemble a group of 20 youths aged 15-25 years for a mission outreach in Danang, Vietnam, from March 12-16.

The trip, which aims to introduce the youths to mission work, is the first project of a newly formed ministry – Nativity Mission Outreach Ministry.

Fr Siew started it last year to help parishioners be more aware of the needs of the less fortunate.

Through Fr Siew, the group came into contact with the Sisters of the Congregation of St Paul De Chartres in Danang.

The nuns work with the elderly, the disabled and orphans.

The youths will help in tasks such as cleaning and painting the homes that the nuns manage.

The group also plans to identify other areas in Vietnam and also in Myanmar that require help, said ministry coordinator Ruby Teo.

By Darren Boon
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