“Each parish community has its special charism and very often it comes from the name of the church.” This is what Bishop Sebastian Francis said in his homily at the installation of the parish of Divine Mercy on the 29th September 2013. He added that in CDM this charism is about Mercy and Compassion. It is not about human or man-made mercy but the Divine Mercy of God. Divine Mercy has the special mantra, “Jesus, I Trust in You”. He said the leaders of this new parish must ask especially to fulfill the aspirations of Blessed Pope John Paul II’s 2nd Encyclical (dated Nov. 30, 1980) Dives in Misericordia (The Father of Mercies and God of all Comfort). In this encyclical, the pope explained the revelation and incarnation of God’s mercy where the church seeks to put this mercy into practice. Bishop Sebastian asked that CDM digest this encyclical and come to know about the riches of God’s mercy to bring out this special charism.
He stressed that this fundamental image of mercy and compassion must be developed in each parishioner’s heart. He gave the recent example of such a show of compassion by His Holiness Pope Francis when he telephoned a distressed pregnant woman in Italy after she wrote to tell him that the father of her child had abandoned her and did not acknowledge the child. He comforted her and even offered to baptize the child after its birth.
His Lordship remarked that other than City parish, CDM has the most migrant community in this part of Penang and they should be welcomed. He emphasized, “Didalam gereja Katolik tiada orang asing, semua ikut serta sesama-sama adalah anak Kristus.” As CDM has a comparatively younger generation of people in the parish, they need to be patient with them and to make them feel at home. He reminded the congregation that Pope Francis had recently challenged the youth to bring the church to the streets.
He also mentioned another example of the anguish of a young boy recently featured in the newspapers whose parents attempted have the whole family commit suicide but only succeeded in killing his sister. “My sister is dead.” He said that we can help by building up our catechists, liturgy, prayer and service groups to take the church to the families, BECs and the community. We needed to reduce the rules and regulations and take the church to families who are struggling, such as the family of this boy. He warned that this only possible if we all begin by listening. This is because listening is fundamental in our relationship with others and with God.
His Lordship added that the multi-ethnic congregation of CDM is special as it can bring out the fullness of the mystery of Christ. Each one in the parish can focus and bring more than one dimension to the mystery of Christ.
In conclusion, he thanked the parish of Divine Mercy Shah Alam for sharing the relic of St. Faustina with CDM Penang on this special occasion. He asked for the intersession of St. Faustina and Blessed John Paul II for the gift of listening to show mercy through our compassion in this new parish at CDM.
After the homily, the rite of the installation of the parish began with the reading of a letter to the bishop requesting for a parish priest. This was then followed by the presentation of the Decree of the Installation of the Parish being brought up and presented to Bishop Sebastian by a young member of the parish. Msgr. Bernard Paul then read the 12 provisions of the decree. The letter of appointment of a parish priest was then read out. The decree was then handed over to Fr. Martin by Msgr. Bernard. A speech was also given to explain the journey of Fr. Martin Arlando to become CDM’s first parish priest. Fr. Martin then came forward for the Rite of Installation of the Parish Priest. Fr. Martin reaffirmed his commitment to the Catholic Church and acceptance of the appointment. The signing ceremony was then conducted. Bishop then handed over a symbolic key of the parish to Fr. Martin.
The order of the mass was then continued with the Creed. At the offertory, Fr. Martin’s parents and aunt came forward to present to the gifts. Towards the end of the mass, the Youth of CDM presented a dance entitled “Rise Up”. This was followed by a welcoming address given by a senior member of the new parish to Fr. Martin. Much to the delight of the parents of Fr. Martin and the congregation, the parish pledged to love their new parish priest and to feed him. In his speech, Msgr. Bernard remarked that his work of repaying the diocese for CDM was done as the bishop had written off the last RM 2 million owed. CDM therefore begins with no “hutangs”. Msgr. reinforced the words of the bishop by saying that parishes are living communities and like children each has their own character. CDM also has its own character to grow to the heart of Divine Mercy. It was now time to begin the journey, to rise up and grow.
Fr. Martin began his speech expressing his concern that when he woke that morning, there was a heavy downpour. Fr. Francis Anthony who also came for the celebration, calmed his fears by saying that it always rained during all auspicious occasions at CDM. It rained at the official launching, the first mass, the official opening of the church and now at its installation. Fr. Martin also thanked all the people who helped him in his journey of faith as a priest beginning with Msgr. Bernard Paul who was his parish priest. He thanked Bishop Emeritus Rt. Rev. Antony Selvanayagam and all the priests that helped build CDM and the parishioners of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit (CHS) for their support. He asked CDM now to support CHS in their efforts to build a formation center. He thanked all the people who came forward to make this occasion a success and mentioned a few firsts in CDM. This included the first parish bulletin and first combined church choir with two visually challenged sisters on keyboard.
An anniversary cake celebrating CDM’s 3rd anniversary was cut by Bishop. In closing, Bishop Sebastian reminded the parishioners of the contributions of H.R. Watts and his family donating the land of this church and the decreased Rev. Fr. Paul Chin. After mass, bishop went to unveil the plague at the front of church commemorating the installation of the parish and the new parish priest.
A crowd of about 1,400 people were then invited for lunch. Each person was also given a commemorative bookmark containing the Divine Mercy Chaplet and a pamphlet on the timeline of CDM becoming the seventh Catholic Church on Penang Island and the first new parish after 44 years.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
5th October, 2013