Photo by Darren Boon

SINGAPORE – The process of building Church of Divine Mercy had been fraught with delays and obstacles since the project commenced four years ago.

But for 60 parishioners on a Nov 22 preview tour (photo), the wait has only served to heighten their excitement at seeing what will become their new parish.
This is their first visit to the church which is still undergoing its finishing touches.

Parish priest Father Johnson Fernandez toured the premises with the parishioners as he explained various features of the building.

First impressions were positive.

Mr and Mrs Kenny Poon were mesmerised by the eight stained glass panels featuring Italian artist Roberto Fasio’s impressions of the sacraments and the Risen Christ.

The couple noted that despite the limited land available, the four-storey building, plus two basement car parks, was spacious.

Another parishioner Darius Lim thought the church was “beautiful” and “well-designed” as the space has been “well-utilised”.

Mr Lim who liked the open area on the rooftop, also said that the high ceiling of the sanctuary made it spacious despite its small external appearance.

Assistant parish priest Father Ignatius Yeo said, “I like the sense of height in the sanctuary. Because when we come to praise and worship God, our hearts must soar into heaven.”

He told CatholicNews that the building committee had put in a lot of effort to construct the church, learning from other parishes’ prior church-building experiences.

He noted that when one steps into the church, one can see the entire main sanctuary. This is “an optical illusion because the church is sloped downwards”, said Father Ignatius, “It’s done
on purpose so that we can get the full effect of the sanctuary.”

What Mr and Mrs David Fong found impressive was the crown of thorns and the three-metre crucifix suspended from the ceiling. These defined the church, they said.

The five-metre-wide crown of thorns reminds the faithful of the importance of suffering in the Christian faith, and encourages them to follow Christ in the hope of redemption.

However, not everything about the new church was praiseworthy.

Mr Poon highlighted its lack of greenery, while Mrs Fong found the basement chapel claustrophobic on first impression.

Father Ignatius joked that the hub of activity – the office and the canteen – are in the basement where mobile phones are not able to receive phone signals.

But it will be the parishioners themselves that matter, said the Fongs and the Poons, who hope for a friendly and close-knit community that is focused on God.

Mr Lim summed up the overall sentiments when he said that the long wait “with all the trials and tribulations” including worrying about the church and the efforts taken to gather the people together, has been “worthwhile”.

The church seats more than 1,200 and is expected to receive her first parishioners soon after receiving the Temporary Occupation Permit from BCA.

The parish will celebrate the official opening with a Blessing and Dedication Mass schedulled for Saturday Jan 9, 2010 at 5.00pm followed by a celebratory dinner. Father Piotr Prusakiewicz, a Polish priest will bring with him a relic of St. Faustina and is expected to preach at a triduum leading up to the opening day.

Sunday Masses will henceforth be held at 7.00am, 9.00am, 11.00am and 5.30pm. Sunset Mass will be held at 5.30pm. Weekday Masses are at 6.30am and 6.00pm.

The opening of the Church of Divine Mercy will bring the total number of Catholic churches in Singapore to 31.

Father Johnson Fernandez points out various features of the church to the visiting parishioners.

By Darren Boon
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