Monday, October 11, 2010

Pilgrimage to St Pio's Monastery in Ulu Tiram, Johor (Pt 1)

Lovely landscape around St Pio's Grotto at Franciscan Monastery, Ulu Tiram in JohorA visit to St Pio's Monastery in Ulu Tiram was first suggested by Rose Yeow, co-ordinator of BEC MARS of the Church of St Francis of Assisi in Cheras early this year, as a project for its members. And, months later, her spouse George, a licensed Tourist Guide, was inspired to organize a pilgrimage there to celebrate the Feast Day of St Pio (the actual day being September 23rd). What a lovely coincidence, an added booster with George Yeow's expertise and spirituality!

Thus, with the joint effort of the husband-wife team and support from the BEC members and George's regular travelers, the final count of pilgrims who traveled there were 129 persons! Fantastic, huh? The Capuchin Friars must have been mighty pleased! God sure works in marvelous and unexpected ways, touching so many yearning hearts who desire to draw closer to Him. That included my beloved John and I, of course!

The 2 days 1 night pilgrimageto St. Pio, Ulu Tiram, Johor - 25-26th September 2010 with a power-packed itinerary was more spiritual than leisure. Some changes were made due to time and traveling constraint - it was understandable as definitely not easy to manage that large number. Price was just RM150 for 1 night stay at a 3-star hotel inclusive of breakfast, transport, sightseeing and dinner. However, due to the overwhelming response (3 busloads of pilgrims), George generously provided packed breakfast in the bus for the first morning and lunch at Kota Tinggi as well!

Saturday, 25th September
  • 7.30 am: 1st busload assembled at SFA Church, Cheras where our beloved and caring assistant Parish Priest, Fr. Andrew Manickam OFM Cap blessed us and prayed for our safe return journey and fruitful pilgrimage. We then departed for Kajang at 8am to meet up with the 2nd and 3rd buses from St Fatima's Church in Brickfields KL and SFX Church in Petaling Jaya, then onwards to Seremban to pick a couple of others before departure to Kota Tinggi, Johor.

  • 2.15 pm: Arrived at Kota Tinggi, Johor and headed straight to Restoran Public for lunch. Gosh, we were so hungry! Fortunately, service was prompt, the servings were large and we happily attacked them like packs of hungry hyaenas! Delightfully delicious dishes!

    Delicious dishes at Restaurant Public, Kota Tinggi in Johore

  • 3.15 pm: We then adjourned straightaway to the nearby Church of St Elizabeth (at Lot 1251 Jalan Kota Kechil, 81900 Kota Tinggi, Johor. Tel: +607 8824 472) to give thanks for the safe journey and to pray. The Parish Priest, Fr. Michael Teng OFM Cap who had joined us for lunch graciously directed us there. Welcoming us warmly, he shared a little on the life and spirituality of St Elizabeth (1207-1231), the daughter of King Andrew of Hungary and a 3rd Order Franciscan. More info @ Catholic Online and prayers to St Elizabeth of Hungary, the patroness of widows, young brides, death of children, bakers, the homeless, falsely accused, nursing services and tertiaries.

    St Elizabeth Church in Kota Tinggi, Johor

  • 4.30 pm: Finally, checked into Myres Hotel. Hmm....just picture the scenario of 129+3 guests crashing in at the small reception area! But, surprisingly the initial commotion waned as quickly. It sure was wonderful to observe that the room was clean, properly furnished and quite large! Hit the sack straightaway for 40 winks.

    John and I at the entrance of Myres Hotel. The other is an aerial view of KT town taken from our room at 10th floor

  • 6.30 pm: Proceeded to Church of Holy Family in Ulu Tiram for Eucharistic Mass at 8.00 pm.

  • 10.00 pm: Dinner at Restaurant Jin Yu at Taman Gaya in Ulu Tiram. Unsatisfactory meal - portions served were small and inadequate for 10 persons/plate. And, the worst thing was the assam fish tasted so horridly muddy...yak!!

  • 11.00 pm: Traveled back to Myres Hotel in Kota Tinggi for a good night sleep.
Sunday, 26th September
  • 7.00 am onwards: Buffet breakfast at the hotel.

  • 9.15 am: Checked out of Myres Hotel in Kota Tinggi and proceeded to St Pio Spirituality Centre in Ulu Tiram for Feast Day Mass Celebration at 11 am.

    Outside Myres Hotel in Kota Tinggi, Johore

  • 2.00 pm: Homeward bound with blessings of St Pio in our hearts. We made a detour to Yong Peng to buy biscuits, health drinks, etc. at Yoyo Native Food Products Sdn Bhd. Eeeek...cut-throat prices! John and I refused to be 'slaughtered'!

    Yoyo Native Products Sdn Bhd, Yong Peng in Johor

    Reached Kuala Lumpur seven hours later at 9.00 pm. and finally home sweet home about 1½ hours later after dinner with our usual BEC MARS gang! Praise and thank God for the safe return journey. Also, thanks to John Boi and Steven Tay who kept the bus driver awake and alert by interacting with him throughout the journey home!
Get to know more about St Pio of Pietrelcina (1887-1968), the stigmatized Capuchin Friar.

To be continued.......
with the highlights of the pilgrimage, in conjunction with St Pio's Feast Day:

Pt. 2 - Triduum Mass at Church of Holy Family, Ulu Tiram
Pt. 3 - St Pio Spirituality Centre, Ulu Tiram for Feast Celebration

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