Remembering the beginnings of 25-year old Church and those who built her

Church of Mary Immaculate, with its unique hands-clasped bell tower, Bukit Padang

BUKIT PADANG – When a momentous occasion such as a Silver Jubilee approaches, the first thing that everyone would be looking forward to is a celebration to commemorate the occasion.

When it comes to a church such as Church of Mary Immaculate (CMI), not only is it momentous but it is also a historical event for many people over 25 years and beyond that.

Although the celebration would be looked forward to, but it is the past that we have to go back to so that we are reminded of how God had worked through these individuals, both religious and lay people, who were chosen to build a church, where the communities have grown bit by bit over the years, and now has become one family.

This is reflected in the theme of CMI’s 25 years dedication: “Celebrating Our Journey Together as a Family of Faith”.

The Uniqueness of CMI

CMI is a triangular-shaped building with a 60-ft hands-clasped-in-prayer bell tower equipped with an electric chime.

The concept of the unique bell tower came from retired Town and Regional Planning Department Director, Datuk Thasius Joeman, a member of the building committee in 1990.

This was disclosed in an interview with him by the Silver Jubilee Committee at the church canteen on 8 April 2018 in conjunction with CMI’s 25 years of dedication. Present also was Thomas Koh, a PWD senior officer who was the treasurer of the building committee.

Joeman said he proposed the concept to founder Father Thomas Sham who in turn brought him to see Bishop John Lee.  It is utterly unique as Joeman said, he has not seen that design during his years of travel around the globe.

Joeman said he was thankful that the bishop accepted the proposal just as he did the idea of having a church on the ground and not having a hall beneath the church.  Earlier, the original design by Paul Chong to have a hall beneath the church had been approved by the bishop.

The retired director said he related to the bishop his experience in Sibu when he attended a Mass in a church that has a hall beneath the church.  He could not concentrate on the Mass because of the noise coming from the basement hall.  He also highlighted the point that it might be difficult to climb the stairs to enter the church as one ages.

After 25 years, the praying hands bell tower with electric chime is still unique and has become a landmark in the suburban area of Bukit Padang.

The Dedication

For the Silver Jubilee celebration, an organizing committee was formed to plan and carry out the jubilee activities from May 2018 onwards. It began with the monthly movie nights featuring “Mary of Nazareth”, “Lourdes” and “Fatima” from May to July; Parish Pilgrimage to the Church of Divine Mercy KKIP in August;  Exhibition by Ministries/Groups in September; Triduum leading to the Thanksgiving Mass and dinner on Sunday Oct 28.  As a weekly preparation until October, a Jubilee prayer was recited during Saturday and Sunday Masses as well as petition for specific groups/ministries in the Prayer of the Faithful.  A souvenir magazine and some souvenir items have been on sale as well.

The Future of the Church is the Community

Now that the construction of the building of the Church of Mary, Immaculate is completed, it is important that we proceed with the community building.  A Church without a community is not a Church. A Church’s community is a Christian Community. A Christian Community is a believing and evangelizing community and, a community in dialogue with God and at the service of others.” (Message from Bishop John Lee on the occasion of the Blessing of the Church of Mary Immaculate on 31 October 1993).

The church community has been steadily growing and now is in need of better facilities. With this in mind, an approval was given by Archbishop John Wong to proceed with the extension of CMI.

This extension will see the construction of a multipurpose hall, classrooms, additional toilets, canteen and rectory. An unveiling of this extension was done alongside the launching of the Silver Jubilee Exhibition in September.

In his message, parish priest Fr Paul Lo said the building of the multipurpose hall will provide facilities for the church activities, especially catechetical ministries and youth programs.  He added that he believed that this building project would mark the beginning of the establishment of this church as a parish in the near future. – Sources: Silver Jubilee Committee (Sr Anna Yap) / CMI SOCCOM / CMI Building Committee

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