“It’s an experience that gives one a feeling of God’s love through Our Lady,” said 89-year-old Charlie Goh.
“I truly felt the presence of the Lord here. I feel very happy,” said 25-year-old Esther Ong, a wheelchair bound victim of a hit-and-run incident.
Mr Goh and Ms Ong were among a group of people suffering from health issues who attended the Lourdes Experience at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Dec 6. They were seated in front, on wheelchairs.
Some 11,200 people attended the five-and-a-half-hour-long event for the sick, the third of its kind here organised by the Order of Malta, Singapore.
It had the theme, Lourdes, The Joy of Conversion.
“When we think of Lourdes, these three things come to mind: peace, healing and prayers,” Archbishop Goh said during his homily.
As Christians, “we are called to grow in holiness,” he said. “Spiritual healing” is needed for one to be at peace and to be healed.
He added that if one wants to be healed of physical or emotional suffering, one “must be sincere”. The key to “long-term healing”, Archbishop Goh said, is to reflect on the Scriptures and what it means when Christians say, “thy will be done”.
“Pray for your own conversion,” he added, as “without prayer, nothing can be done. Only prayer can change lives.”
Fasting and mortification are also important, he noted. Fasting is necessary because “when we fast, we show sincerity in our prayers”.
He also urged Catholics to go for confession at least once a month.
During the Mass, Archbishop Goh gave Holy Communion to the sick and carried the Blessed Sacrament around the stadium for people’s prayers and adoration.
The Lourdes event also saw a nun and a married couple sharing their experiences of God’s healing in their lives.
Franciscan Missionaries of Mary Sr Rosalind Chan shared that she went to Lourdes, France, on two separate occasions, to pray for ailing heels and knees.
After taking a bath in the Lourdes water, “the pain was just gone. That’s how Our Lady interceded for me,” she said.
She added that in 2013, after doctors operated on both her knees, she was back on her feet within three days.
In the second testimony, Mrs Caselin Lee, accompanied by her husband Eugene, shared how their son Joshua, was born with multiple health issues, including two holes in his heart.
He had to be strapped to a ventilator then as his oxygen saturation level was below 50 percent. “Home, then, was a mini hospital,” recalled Mrs Lee, adding that at that time, “I started to think of funeral arrangements.”
She attended the 2008 Lourdes Experience in Singapore in trepidation as she was afraid of leaving her son’s side. Nevertheless, she prayed hard when the Blessed Sacrament was raised during the event.
The couple shared that a miracle happened later. At one point, the ventilator Joshua was on failed, which left him fighting for his life. However, while waiting for a replacement ventilator, his oxygen saturation level began to rise to optimal level.
His health has improved significantly since then.
Photos of Joshua, happy and laughing, were then projected onto the screens in the stadium. “We hope that Joshua’s story will bring joy to your lives,” said Mrs Lee.
During the Lourdes Experience, various foreign Catholic communities, dressed in their own native costumes, prayed the rosary in their own tongues.
They included Filipinos in patadyong and barong Tagalog, Indonesians in kebayas, Myanmar nationals in longyis, Koreans in hanboks, and Indians in their sarees.
Apart from participants who gave positive comments about the event to CatholicNews, a few said they faced certain challenges during the programme.
Seventy-seven-year-old Anna Lim complained of physical discomfort from sitting for the event’s duration. “It was too long,” she said in Teochew.
Ms Jacqueline Pang, 60, who suffers from polio, and who came on her motorised wheelchair, had to wait for about an hour for the crowd to disperse before she could head home. “It’s too crowded for me to move,” she said.
A volunteer communion guide also said there appeared to be some confusion when it came to the distribution of communion and hoped that things would be more systematic the next time.
By Lorna O’Hara