In line with tradition of all auspicious events at the Church of Divine Mercy, Penang (CDM) it rained on the 30th August. It had rained at the first mass at CDM and also at the installation of the church and first parish priest. As with all other events, the rain held back to allow all the parishioners first to assemble at SJK(C) Chung Shan, Bayan Lepas school field. Around 500 parishioners had assembled under six erected tents on the school field for this memorial event of the church. They came in cars, motorbikes and two buses that ferried in parishioners from church after the 9 am morning mass. Tents were labeled and decorated. Tables and chairs were set out for each zone’s potbless breakfast before the showers came down.
This event was planned many months earlier and the organizing committee had decided to have it at a nearby school field due to the space restrictions at CDM. It was the intention of the parish priest, Fr. Martin Arlando to have a event to bring all parishioners together in a closer relationship of community fellowship and understanding.
A total of 651 Family Day Ticket coupons were sold through BEC members. Out of these 34 coupons were given to the less privileged and all non-school going children were allowed in free. There were several migrants from various BECs who also turned up to join in the events. Some were given free tickets to encourage them to come celebrate this family day. Free meals were also given to those of the school staff who were helping with security and parking.
There were events planned to cater for all members of the family. In view of the rain, the march-past of each zone was held in the school hall. The seven teams paraded around the hall in various regalia to finally assemble in front of the stage and be judged by a panel of selected people that included Fr Martin and a Local State Councilor. At the end of the event, four birthday cakes were brought on stage to celebrate Fr Martin’s fourth year of ordination. Cracker fireworks were then let off and sequences filled the air. Everyone then assembled for a group photo. Each parishioner also got to taste a piece of anniversary cake.
Children and parents with young children were entertained three types of games where they won coupons for stickers. Sunquick drinks were distributed free. A lunch ticket entitled one to have a plate of curry chicken with vegetables and free seconds. Everyone got more than one ice-cream cup and a clown distributed free balloon sculptures. This proved so popular that almost all young children were seen moving around with a balloon sword, crown, mirror and some even held a balloon puppy dog.
The telematch games for the older parishioners included captain’s ball, sack race and a tug-of-war. This saw the participation of an all-women team from one BEC. There was also henna and face painting. It was heartening to see how patient people can be to wait in line to have themselves painted pretty in 20 minutes.
The Youth Ministry took the opportunity to raise funds for the upcoming PDYN event by selling canned drinks and song dedications. They also put up an impromptu event at the end of the day on the out-door stage.
At the end of the event, prizes were given out to the winners of the games. In addition, 15 lucky draw prizes were drawn. The lucky parishioners went home with hotel-stays, buffet lunches and dinners at popular hotels. It was undeniable that all who came for the event got to know each other better perhaps because of the downpour. Parishioners got to know better the BEC leaders. They all helped in the massive cleanup afterwards and had a chance to interact with young and old as well as their parish priest. The family day made everyone realize the importance of community spirit and the need to build a parish hall to cater for the fast growing community at CDM.
Dr. Ivan Filmer
12th September, 2015