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BEC Trip to Historical Malacca

By Leonard Pasqual
 
Malacca can rightly be said to be the cradle of Catholicism in Malaysia which came to this land with the Portuguese colonisers in 1511. Fast forward to 11 July 2009 - a group of 38 BEC (Basic Ecclesial Communities) members makes a visit to this historic city for a brief taste of what our former colonial masters left behind.

It was a hazy Saturday morning when our group left SS3 in Petaling Jaya for Malacca. The trip, organised by the BEC SS3 St Catherine, started on a slightly disappointing note when two participants failed to make it by the departure time of 7 am. The bus waited for 10 minutes before we decided to move as a further delay would upset our tight schedule. We stopped for a quick breakfast at the Seremban rest and recreation area along the North-South Expressway.  After everyone have had their fill, we moved on.
 
Along the journey, it started to rain and those on board the bus were worried that our outing would be ruined. But by the time we reached out first stop - St Peter’s Church - the rain had slowed to a drizzle, to the relief of everyone. The church was closed as we did not make any appointment to visit it, but the church caretaker was kind enough to open it for our group to venture inside the oldest Catholic church in the country.
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The group was earlier asked to take note of the interior façade of the church which dates back hundreds of years. On the floor were tombstone engravings of those associated with the church many decades ago. A side ‘chapel’ had the figurine of our crucified Lord sleeping in a glass enclosure. On one wall was the statue of Christ in agony crowned with thorns - His face was tortured - while the statue of His Mother sharing his grief was on the opposite wall.

BEC TripOur next stop was St Francis Xavier Church, where many of us knelt down in prayer and asked St Francis to intercede for us. There is a plaque at the back of the church with the names of all the parish priests who have served there since it was set up. SIC Parish Priest Father Philip Tan’s name is also on it. This was followed by a short walk to Christ Church, now an Anglican church. This historical building was originally part of the Dutch Stadhuys complex. There was a constant movement of visitors to Christ Church, and the front section was cordoned off for a wedding later that day.

The next item on the agenda was the walk up St Paul’s Hill to the ruins of the church. There were a few senior citizens in our group and it was amazing that they managed the climb when some of the younger members were huffing and puffing! Then it was the climb down to A Famosa, the last remnant of a mighty fort built by the Portuguese during their stay in Malacca. 
 
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By this time it was about noon and our stomachs were growling. We soon boarded the bus again and headed to a restaurant for a Nyonya-style lunch. The air-conditioned interior was a welcome relief, and the lunch was good. Many said the lunch alone was well worth the trip. Appetite satiated, our members next headed to the Jonker Street area for a walkabout. By now it was blazing hot but this did not deter us from exploring the many quaint shops, small outlets and nooks in this historical Nyonya section of the city. 

Members also went on a buying spree and filled their shopping bags with cincalok, belacan, tarts, gula Melaka, biscuits, etc. After about 90 minutes we headed to the Portuguese Settlement for a quick look around. Some members managed to catch up with old friends here. Our final stop was the famous Tan Kim Hock shopping bazaar for last-minute buys. Then it was a two-hour drive back to SS3 during which many of us took the opportunity to get some sleep.
 
We reached home about 7.15 pm tired and exhausted, but happy we got to see a bit of Malacca. BEC SS3 St Catherine would like to thank all those who came for this trip, especially members from our sister SS3 BEC St Benedict and St Peter, as without their support the trip would not have been possible.

 
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