Thousands make beeline to church in Bukit Mertajam for annual pilgrimage

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By S. ARULLDAS
Photos by MUHAMAD SHAHRIL

Holy duty: Flower girls with candles during the St Anne Novena and Feast procession in Bukit Mertajam.

MORE than 100,000 people are expected to attend the annual St Anne’s Feast celebrations in Bukit Mertajam this weekend where the highlight would be a candlelight procession around the church grounds tomorrow evening.

Most of the pilgrims would likely participate in the procession after the 8pm evening mass.

The 10-day ‘My Family, My Life’ feast will end this Sunday.

United in faith: Members of the congregation stand during mass on the Feast Day of St Anne at the Church of St Anne in Bukit Mertajam

In the past seven days, the sanctuary of the Church of St Anne along Jalan Kulim has been a magnet for pilgrims by the thousands.

They came to pray, make vows and give thanks to the patron saint, the grandmother of Jesus Christ.

Pilgrims who have had their vows fulfilled after praying to St Anne, returned to the 165-year-old shrine this year to offer flowers and other gifts as thanksgiving.

On the official day of St Anne’s birthday which fell on Tuesday, about 4,000 took part in a candlelight procession, which began at 9pm after Bishop Anthony Selvanayagam conducted mass.

Parish priests — Father Hendry Rajoo, Deacon Martin Arulando, Father Mark Michael, Father Nelson Joseph Jacob, Father Michael Dass — joined the bishop to celebrate the auspicious mass.

Volunteers shouldered the statues of St Anne and Mother Mary, which were placed on a floral-decked wooden dais and taken around the church compound in the 30-minute walkabout.

Altar boys bearing crosses, light bearers and flower girls accompanied the statues as the crowd sang religious hymns.

The adoration of the blessed sacrament and healing for the sick was also conducted by priests yesterday.

Two siblings from Sumatra, Indonesia, — Elisabeth Alam Shah, 45, a housewife, and her sister Emilia Alam Shah, 40 — have been attending the feast for the last three years but this is the first time that they came earlier to attend mass on St Anne’s birthday.

The siblings who arrived in Penang by flight on Monday, are returning tomorrow.

Sacred privilege: Members of the congregation receiving communion from Bishop Anthony and other priests in the church of St Anne in Bukit Mertajam

An Australian couple who only wanted to be known as Derek and his wife Sherry, both aged 45, from Melbourne, said they were delighted to have attended the celebration.

They said that this is their fourth trip for the celebrations and plan to make a trip annually.

“I have a strong belief in God and I believe that medicine alone will not cure sickness. It is our faith.”

According to Derek, he was in serious pain when he walked up the flight of church stairs.

Derek, who was on crutches, did not specify his ailment but said that he felt relief when he came down after praying to St Anne.

S. Belvin, 30, and his fiancee S. Alinda, also 30, from Kepong, Kuala Lumpur, said they came to pray to St Anne for their wedding, which is slated for Sept 1.

For further information about the feast, call the church at 04-5386405 or visit its online portal at www.stannebm.org.

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Posted by on July 29, 2011 under Tourism News.

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