Thousands of St Ignatius Church (SIC) parishioners ushered in the start of Holy Week during the Palm Sunday weekend of 12-13 April. The feast of Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem – as the Prince of Peace instead of a political messiah. SIC Parish Priest Fr Lucas Ng and SIC Assistant Parish Priest Fr Andrew Wong blessed the palms at the church entrance before the start of Masses which they celebrate. The 6 pm Mass on 13 April was preceded by the blessing of palms at the Grotto followed by a procession around the church compound with palms held up high. Selfless parishioners had gathered early the day before to help clean and cut the palms down to size for the benefit of all parishioners.
The bilingual Mass on Holy Thursday which began at 8 pm was filled to overflowing around the church building. This Mass of the Lord's Supper inaugurates the Easter Triduum and commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with his Apostles. Twelve Communion Ministers – eight from the English-speaking community and four from the Mandarin-speaking – had their feet washed by Frs Lucas and Andrew to illustrate the service & love of Christ who came not to be served but to serve. Fr Philip Tan (Provincial, CDD priests in Malaysia) was the concelebrant. Shortly after the end of communion, Frs Lucas, Andrew and Philip led the procession to transfer the Most Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle to the Altar of Repose on the first floor of Costantini Community Centre. Open for adoration till midnight, the Altar of Repose was set up by members of the Liturgy Ministry together with other volunteers.
A Way of the Cross around the church compound was held on Good Friday on 18 April. Cross bearers for the Stations of the Cross included representatives from SIC Scripture Study (SSS), Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), Sunday School, Parents Group, Senior Citizens, Communion Ministers (2 teams), Parish Integral Human Development (PIHD), Parish Communication Team (PCT), Formation Team, Charismatic Prayer Group, Youths, and Mandarin PCCC (2 teams). Bearers carried a bigger and heavier cross this year compared to the last occasion from one station to another. Fr Lucas carried a smaller cross from the altar to the First Station whilst 2 representatives from PCT carried it to the altar after the final 14th Station.
Participants and onlookers alike were able to experience and retrace through the Way of the Cross the last stage of the journey that Our Lord walked in his earthly life. Fr Andrew was the celebrant for the Mass that followed. Apart from the Liturgy of the Word, the Good Friday celebration of the Lord’s Passion also include the Veneration of the Cross. His Holiness Pope Francis has also given us a timely reminder on our living out the life of Christ when he tweeted (on 18 Apr 2014): 'It is not easy to follow Jesus, because the path he chooses is the way of the Cross.'
'I baptise you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.' Eighteen words which 36 elects of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) class of 2013/14 heard as they were baptised at the Easter Vigil Mass on 19 April. Simple yet profound, these 17 words open for them the gateway to life in the Spirit and the door which gives access to the other sacraments of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Accompanied by their godparents and witnessed by family members and friends seated amongst a fully-packed congregation, they were baptised by SIC Parish Priest Fr Lucas Ng and Assistant Parish Priest Fr Andrew Wong.
The newly-baptised (joined by another five candidates for confirmation) also received the Sacrament of Confirmation from Fr Lucas and Fr Andrew who anointed them with the Oil of Chrism to seal them with the gift of the Holy Spirit. With joy in their hearts, the new members of Christ and his Church then received their first Holy Communion – the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus. Newly-baptised Christina Foo and confirmand David Lim found the baptism, confirmation and RCIA journey (which began on 11 June 2013) meaningful. They realised that they have taken only the first steps of a lifetime journey of faith which they will soon take further together in holy matrimony. Kim Ang and Khor Chai Huat shared that they are 'so blessed to be the godparents of Christina and David. Once we were strangers but because of Christ, we are now family.'
We hope our new Catholics will continue to be nourished by the Word of God and the sacraments instituted by Christ out of love for the new chosen people in his Church. To deepen the roots of their their faith, they will have to take up Bible & catechetical studies and formation programmes. It is also important that they integrate into the life of the parish through serving in ministries and BECs. Thence, all Catholics are to go forth to make disciples of all nations and bring hope to the last, least and lost. At the Easter Vigil Mass in Mandarin which started at 6.45 pm, 17 elects were baptised and three candidates were comfirmed together with the elects. SIC wish all Catholics a Blessed Easter!
Photography by: John Ragai & Daniel Khong