Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pilgrimage to Church of St John Vianney in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan

Had intended to do a post about our pilgrimage to the Church of St John Vianney in Tampin, Negri Sembilan last December but..?? Gosh, what a procrastinator I am! Better fulfill this before the Year for Priests ends this coming June 19...hehe!

This Church of St John Vianney in Tampin had been designated as the Pilgrimage Church in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur by our Archbishop Murphy Pakiam on July 21 2009, in conjunction with the Year for Priests.

Church of St John Vianney in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan - the different external views and a grotto of Blessed Mother Mary in its compound

The Year for Priests was inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI on June 19 2009 to encourage the whole Catholic world to focus on its Priesthood, to pray for priests worldwide to be strengthened in fidelity to Christ and to thank God for the gift of priests who dedicate themselves tirelessly for their flock. At that same time, the Pope also declared St. John Vianney as the Patron Saint of All Priests on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his death.

Hence, throngs of worshippers from far and near have taken the blessed opportunity to make a pilgrimage to this quaint St John Vianney Church in Tampin ever since.

Thanks to the promptings of Fr. Andrew Manikam, our beloved Assistant Parish Priest of SFA Church, a pilgrimage to the Church of St John Vianney, Tampin and St Francis Xavier Church in Malacca was organized by George Yeow. One busload of us, graciously accompanied by Fr. Andrew made that wonderful spiritual journey during the Advent Season, early last December.

Inside the Church of St John Vianney in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan

Arrived in Tampin around 10 am for the Eucharistic Mass Celebration that that was presided by Fr. Mari Arokiam, the Parish Priest of St John Vianney Church and concelebrated with Fr. Andrew. During his lengthy homily, interspersed with seriousness and humour, Fr. Arokiam shared much on St John Vianney, the Patron Saint of All Priests and gave some pointers on how to take ownership of our faith and spirituality, to have great love for God, Holy Eucharist and the Blessed Sacrament and also love for sinners and our priests. He cautioned never ever to gossip about our priests, especially during family meals and always to approach the priest directly to discuss problems or convey constructive criticisms.

Captures of the Patron Saint of the Church of St John Vianney in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan

After Mass, he presented each pilgrim with a set of 4 religious cards containing some wonderful information and insights on St John Vianney.

Later, we were all treated to a simple, yet delicious lunch at its adjacent community hall, followed by a group photo session before we departed around 1.45 pm for Malacca, our next stop in the itinerary.

Group photo of pilgrims to the Church of St John Vianney in Tampin, Negeri Sembilan, including its Parish Priest

We were told that the Church was established since 1956, slightly more than 50 years old. It was previously the Chapel of St Philomena before being upgraded. A really charming-looking Church, built in a valley with surrounding greenery and seemingly refreshing environment. I recalled that lovely sunny morning being very breezy and windy, rarely experienced in urban Kuala Lumpur. Equally charming was the team of parishioners that greeted us on arrival, served us lunch and bade us farewell. We were really overwhelmed by the gracious hospitality of Fr. Mari and his community. Thank you again, one and all!

Church of St. John Vianney
Batu Satu, Jalan Seremban
73000 Tampin
Negeri Sembilan.
(Tel: 606-441 7362)

Sharing some excerpts that were printed on the cards about St John Vianney, the Patron Saint of All Priests:

  1. The Priest who almost never was. St John Vianney is universally known as the Cure of Ars (Cure is French for Parish Priest). Born in 1786, he overcame many trials and obstacles to become a priest as he was deemed unlearned. Sent to a small obscure village (Ars) in France so that he could not do any damage to the faithful by his 'academic-under qualification. Eventually the whole village was converted to God through his fervant prayers and life of penance and sacrifice. He went on to be the Patron Saint of all Diocesan/Parish Priests as declared by Pope Pius XI in 1929.
  2. The Priest who was a sign of contradictions to the world. He led a life steeped in the virtues that ran contrary to what the world advocates. St John Vianney's life was exemplified by obedience, penance and poverty, chastity, charity, personal holiness, life of prayer, deep devotion to the Eucharist, great zeal for salvation of souls and courage to speak the truth of God.
  3. The Priest who could read souls. He was initially forbidden to hear confessions when he was ordained because he was deemed unlearned in the doctrines of the Church. When the ban was lifted, he went on to hear the confessions of about a million people in his life as a priest. He knew a penitent's sin even when the sins were withheld from him. Mere words from him alone could convert the most hardened sinners. He had the gift of reading souls and working miracles of healing. Up to 100,000 pilgrims visited Ars each year to attend Mass and to make a confession to Fr. John Vianney who'd spend 16-18 hours daily in a confessional.
  4. The Priest who loved God and his flock above his own life. He practised strict mortification, spending hours in prayer and fasting. His works of mercy included starting a free school and opening an orphanage called Providence. He worked numerous miracles of healing and also multiplication of wheat grains so that bread could be made for the poor orphan children. His love was so great that even on his deathbed, he asked for 3 pilgrims to be brought to his bed-side for confession.
    The body of the Cure lay incorrupt inside a golden reliquary in the Basilica of Ars today.

    Biodata & significant dates:
    Birthday: 8 May, 1786
    Ordained: 13 August 1815 (at age of 29)
    Died: 4 August 1859
    Feastday: 4 August
    Canonised: 31 May 1935
    Declared Patron Saint of All Parish/Diocesan Priests by Pope Pius XI in 1929.
    Declared Patron Saint of All Priests by Pope Benedict XVi on 19 June 2009, on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

More about Saint John Mary Vianney here.

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