Fr Joachim Chang talks about the financial challenges
Fr Joachim Chang, parish priest of the upcoming Church of the Transfiguration, seen here with religious statues and artefacts to be housed in the new church.
A magnificently adorned tabernacle stands at one spot, life-size statues of Our Lady line a wall, while gleaming procession lanterns adorn one end of a corridor.
These are some of the religious items that can be found all around the temporary living quarters of Fr Joachim Chang in Punggol, near the former site of the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary.
These items and many more are waiting to find their home in the new Church of the Transfiguration (COTT), expected to hold its first Mass on Maundy Thursday next year, April 13.
Fr Joachim, parish priest of the up-and-coming church in Punggol, also modifies and creates religious items such as ciboria for the new building using a metal workbench to save costs.
Construction of the church is well underway with the completion of the basement and the building’s five levels. The formation of pastoral ministries has also started. What is most daunting, however, is raising $60 million to build the church.
“The last parish, Church of Divine Mercy, was built in 2010 at a cost of about $25 million,” said Fr Joachim. “Owing to high rental and construction material costs, the Church of the Transfiguration will, despite our best efforts, cost more than twice that amount,”
About 45 percent of the amount has already been raised.
On most weekends since October 2015, Fr Joachim and his team of volunteers have been going round to various parishes to garner support. Numerous events have also been organised to keep the buzz going.
These included a walkathon and Star Wars Movie Night last year and a Fundraising Gala Night and Golf Charity Event this year. Next to come are a Fun Bowling Night on Sept 12 and another gala dinner at the start of 2017.
Nevertheless, there is still an urgent need to raise more money quickly. The church needs to raise another $9 million by March 2017 to defray construction and consultancy fees that will be due. This would leave another $23 million to be raised.
“Many people think that the Catholic archdiocese is rich with a lot of cash reserves,” quipped Fr Joachim. “Unfortunately this isn’t so as it is also currently committed to other ongoing projects.”
He added, “We are actively looking for sponsors for our auditorium, our numerous church rooms and pews which will come with naming rights either in thanksgiving or in honour of a loved one.” Fr Joachim also hopes that Catholics can contribute regularly through monthly GIRO deductions.
Nevertheless, he greatly believes in the power of prayer. “We started a monthly holy hour of prayer long before we started our fundraising efforts,” he said. “I always tell my volunteers that prayer can move mountains, and that the Church of the
Transfiguration will be established by the grace and will of God,” he said.
For more information on the Church of the Transfiguration, or to register to be a volunteer, visit www.transfiguration.sg or contact the Secretariat Office at 6341-9718. Facebook: www.facebook.com/cottsg