PAKAN – On 4 October, St Anthony’s Parish (Sarikei) witnessed a historic even when the newly-constructed St Francis of Assisi Chapel in Pakan was blessed and officially opened by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Hii of the Diocese of Sibu.
The ceremony was held on the feast day of St Francis of Assisi, patron of the Chapel. Despite the rain, over 1000 Catholics packed the Chapel to share in the joyous occasion.
The ceremony began at the entrance of the Chapel with the handing over of the keys of the new building by the contractor, Leo Lau, to the Auxiliary Bishop, who in turn handed the keys to Paul Achan, Chairman of the Chapel Committee. This was followed by special prayers and an address by the Auxiliary Bishop.
Auxiliary Bishop Hii then blessed the outside of the Chapel with incense and holy water. The unveiling and signing of the commemoration plaque by the Auxiliary Bishop and YB Joseph Salang anak Gandum, Member of Parliament for Julau, marked the official opening of the Chapel.
The Mass followed, with Fr Joseph Sebastian (parish priest of St Anthony’s Church), Fr David Lau, Fr Paul Ling, and Fr Richard Lau also concelebrating. As they processed towards the altar, the Auxiliary Bishop blessed the congregation gathered using holy water. He also blessed the altar, cross, tabernacle and shrine of Our Lady.
In his homily, Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Hii thanked God for the blessing of a new chapel. He noted that although the building was large, it was called a chapel because of the shortage of priests. The Chapel will come under St Anthony’s Parish.
The Auxiliary Bishop urged the congregation to learn from the example of St Francis of Assisi who left behind his wealth to serve the poor and needy, surrendering everything to God instead of relying on worldly power.
The Mass was followed by a fellowship lunch held at the Dewan Masyarakat and attended by over 400 parishioners.
Pakan is a small bazaar about 40 km from Sarikei. The need for the construction of a new chapel to replace the existing chapel increased as the population of Catholics in the area increased considerably over the years. The construction of the new chapel on the original site of the old one began in 2006. The whole project cost about RM 560,000.
Joseph Wong/Matthew Juan