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Our Parish

“Francis, Build My Church.”
A Brief History of the Church of St Francis of Assisi
From Tamilnadu to Port Klang – The Formative Years at St Michael’s Friary

The presence of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins (OFM Cap) in Malaysia is the result of the hard work put in by the Capuchin friars from province of Tamilnadu, India. In early 1954, two pioneer priests from Trichy, India, Frs Denis and Eusebius were invited by the late Rt Rev Michael Olcomendy MEP, Bishop of the Diocese of Malacca-Singapore, to preach missions and retreats in Tamil, Malayalam and English.

In 1960, the new Bishop at the time, Rt Rev Dominic Vendargon made a formal request to the Capuchin Provincial in India, to open a mission centre here in Malaysia. This was to address the urgent need for local stewardship of the growing Catholic community. In response, Fr Denis and one Fr Athanasius, were then sent to Port Klang, Selangor, to work on setting up a fully-operational mission centre.

A year later, Fr John of the Cross and Bro Reginald arrived to shore up the early Capuchin work that was taking place at St Anne’s Church in Port Klang. This eventually became the temporary Franciscan centre in Malaysia. Not long later and still in the early 1960s, Fr Noel Clement, a local diocesan priest worked on securing a site in the old coal mining district of Batu Arang, Gombak, Selangor. The site suited the requirements of the Capuchins then.

On September 18, 1962, upon blessings by Bishop Rev. Dominic Vendargon, the missionaries of the time set about more zealously to witness the Gospel through their mission. This centre became known then as ‘St Michael’s Friary’. It was during this formative time that amongst the community, came forth our very own Malaysian postulant, Bro. Dominic Francis.

In Search Of Greener Pastures – The Foundation of Iconic Gethsemane Friary

As the days grew with passionate Capuchin missions on going, the Friars then decided to seek out a centralised position to further expand and grow their mission work. It is through this need for more permanent grounds that culminated in the building of the original and iconic Gethsemane Friary. The arrival of Fr Gerrard, the Superior of the Capuchin Missions, to Malaysia in September 1963, is often closely linked to the origins of the Friary.

As the objective of Fr Gerard’s visit was to review and to further expand the missionary work of the Capuchin Order here in Malaysia, he held various discussions with Bishop Vendargon. It was both their views that further efforts had to be footed to extend the Capuchin mission work to newer areas, especially to the estates and rural areas, and at the same time, to also find a permanent location to serve as a centre for the Franciscan-Capuchin mission.

Through these meetings, Bishop Vendargon initially offered up a two-acre plot of land in the city, however, after some discernment, the proposed location was found not to be suitable. God’s will would have it that at the very same time, the Capuchin Mission was also approached with the sale of a five-acre land situated amidst the hills and valleys on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur from a rubber estate owner.

The said location in Cheras, about seven miles from the city, appeared promising for the Capuchin mission, as it was isolated, close to Mother Nature and yet accessible to the surrounding estate communities. God’s loving hand was definitely at work because even though finance proved to be a hindrance, God’s divine providence prevailed; Mr. Chooi Mun Sun, a lawyer, volunteered his services to arrange the transaction and necessary legalities. The land then acquired on an RM80,000 loan from Oriental Bank.

By mid-1964, the surrounding rubber trees were felled and the land cleared for construction works to commence. A modest building comprising of a chapel and a block for the friars’ quarters was soon erected and during this time, funds were successfully raised through the support and generosity of well-wishers and friends of the community.

Thus, on April 4, 1965, Bishop Dominic Vendargon consecrated the new Gethsemane Friary. With this, the former friary at Batu Arang, was subsequently returned to the Bishop after the friars had shifted to their new home and the Gethsemane Friary became a beacon of goodwill to all those who travelled down south passed “the church on the hill”.

Witnessing Christ’s Passion
– The Iconic Life-Sized Statues And A Growing Mission

By the close of 1965, Fr John of the Cross was appointed as the first Superior of the Friary. Together with Fr Hugolin and Bros Agatho and Reginald, they worked hard to develop the growing community and expand their missionary work to the surrounding areas. Under his guidance, a parochial hall was then built behind the Friars’ quarters to serve as an epicentre for training and formation in the Cheras district. Three years later, the growth of the Friary was so exponential that a more physical means of witnessing the Gospel of Christ was needed. With that, Fr John of

the Cross ordered a string of life-sized statues from India, meant to be part of the open-air Stations of the Cross that have now become an iconic fixture in SFA. Fr John of the Cross’s term as superior ended and Fr Monfort took over. He would return in 1972 from India to resume duties as Superior of the Friary.

However, it was under the leadership Fr Percival as the Superior of the Friary in 1971 that saw the completion of the erection of the life-sized statues. For a total cost of RM30,000, these life-sized statues were flown in and stood at the crest of the hill within the original Friary grounds. Local craftsmen were engaged at the time to erect these Stations all within walking distances apart from each other at a total assembly cost an additional RM15,000.

With this, Good Friday services that were held at the Friary began to attract thousands of pilgrims from all over Malaysia and the region and subsequently carve out a lasting legacy for the Gethsemane Friary. As part of the celebrations, a life-sized wooden cross is carried in procession as the Passion of the Christ is re-enacted by priests and the faithful. This grand annual witnessing of Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection have since been held at SFA Church. Even today, within the newly re-landscaped Church grounds, the same life-sized statues have been re-located to carry on this annual re-enacting of Christ’s Passion.

With the life-sized statues standing proudly atop the Friary hill, the ensuing years blossomed. Gethsemane Friary experienced more development, a testament to a growing congregation and also to the rising overall development of Kuala Lumpur and its surrounding districts. Capuchin priests and brothers, mainly from India, gave themselves in service in the true Franciscan spirit of love, peace and charity.

Christ’s Gospel Grows – The Need For A Bigger House Of Worship

Come the year 1975, with Fr Clement as elected Superior of the Friary, the mission was steadily growing. He worked tirelessly to improve the moral and religious formation in several places, mainly in Serdang and Semenyih. He constantly encouraged lay people to play an active role in the Church at large. During this period, a school for special children was opened and classes were held by specially trained teachers. This was followed by the opening of a kindergarten on the Friary’s grounds and during this time as well, the Friary even opened its doors to about 2,000 Vietnamese refugees between March 1977 to January 1981.


While the Chapel at Gethsemane Friary had served its purpose fruitfully for more than a decade, the time had come to make serious considerations to accommodate the growing number of the faithful, since the general population in Cheras was also rising rapidly. Thus, plans were set in motion to build a new and bigger Church to host the growing numbers. Initially, both Frs. Montfort and Clement made provisions to extend the existing Chapel but this was deemed a short-term solution. Thankfully, back in early 1974, Frs Monfort and Clement had also solicited funds and technical advice. Thus, by the year 1978, building plans for a new church were drawn, approved and put to work at an estimated cost of RM250,000.

On May 1, 1979 the first Church of St Francis of Assisi in Cheras was blessed by His Grace Archbishop Dominic Verdargon of Kuala Lumpur and officially declared open by then Deputy Home Minister Dato’ Seri Syed Ahmad Shahabudin with Fr Clement the first parish priest. Two months later, Fr Mariadass was appointed as the Superior of the Friary community, but was also elected as the parish priest of SFA Church.

The final touches to the new SFA Church however was made three years later: the bell for the new church was ordered from France by Bro Nicholas at a cost of RM9.000 and was blessed and installed on April 29, 1982 by Fr Germanus Rayen.

On January 1, 1983 the parish was erected under the agreement signed between the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Most Rev Dominic Vendargon and the Provincial of the Tamil Nadu Province, Very Rev Mathias OFM Cap.

Fr Germanus Rayen was the first vicar. SFA would be a territorial parish comprising the area from the Infant Jesus Convent, 5.5 mile Jalan Cheras to the 10th mile Jalan Kajang.

The new St Francis of Assisi Church quickly became a recognisable landmark for all, building further upon the legacy that had already been established by the original Gethsemane Friary. Seated upon an elevated hillock that overlooked a key passageway to head down south back in the late ‘70s to the early 90s, it naturally became an iconic landmark. Even till today, many who pass the Cheras-Kajang highway still refer to it as “the church on the hill” and to an older generation, it is still called “Gethsemane Church”, a testament to the old Friary’s legacy as well.

Into the new millennium, SFA Church continued to grow exponentially. Initially, the Church comprised of about 40-60 Catholic families living around the Cheras area. With the influx of new housing estates and population growth, the physical development of the parish has now escalated to about 600 families.

In order to accommodate this bigger congregation, the number of church services also grew over time; a sunset Mass on Saturday was introduced, preceded by a Novena to Our Lady, Benediction and Rosary devotion. Provisions were also made to have an early Mass on Sundays at 7.30am for the Tamil-speaking parishioners, an English Mass at 9.15am, followed by a Mass at 11.15am for the Mandarin-speaking community. By the mid-2010s, the church was also catering for a steadily growing Bahasa Malaysia-speaking congregation too. Still, it was only a matter of time before a refurbished Church building was due because of the growing impact of Christ’s Gospel in the Kuala Lumpur area.

Thus, a new set of plans were tabled at the end of the 2000s to refurbish and extend the original Church building, complete with a new surrounding landscape. Now, after two years of construction works, we now have this new church grounds fully completed this 2018. St Francis of Assisi Church will still continue its part in the mission of Christ’s gospel; to be a steadfast symbol of the love, commitment and service of Capuchin missionaries to the Catholic population in here in Kuala Lumpur South District, and Malaysia.

A Vision
As the community grew larger, the parishioners had a vision to make this dream a reality in 2007.

CHERAS: The Church of St Francis of Assisi Building Fund campaign was launched on Easter Sunday, Apr 8, 2007.

The estimated RM6.5 million campaign was officially launched by Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, and Yang Berhormat Datuk Paul Foo.

YB Tan Sri Bernard in his speech shared how the project was achievable. “You are embarking on a new era, building a church. I know that raising funds would not be easy but all of you will have a sense of pride in building your own church."

“Many years ago, in my village in Sabah, we needed RM250,000 to build a church. This was accomplished in five years. One of the ways that we achieved this was to ask all the families to pledge RM1,000 for one or two years."

“So I can see no reason why here in Cheras, this project cannot be achieved,” he added.

Earlier, Fr Joe Matthews OFM Cap, parish priest of the SFA spoke on the need for the expansion. He cited a growing community especially the welcome presence of the East Malaysians and Indonesians, the lack of facilities (classrooms, carpark etc) for the various groups as the main reasons for the expansion.

Then a short video-clip on the need for the community centre and church expansion as well as the projected fundraising activities was shown. It was also during this time that the logo and motto, “Let’s build our church together,” was unveiled.

Later YB Tan Sri Bernard Dompok and YB Datuk Paul Foo, who are in the advisory board of the building project, beat the gong three times each to launch the project.

At the end of the launch, pledge forms were distributed to all present. YB Tan Sri Bernard pledged RM10,000 to get the ball rolling.

John Yeo, the chairperson of the fundraising committee explained that “the theme and logo emphasised the plurality of our church community with one mind and one heart as people of God working together to achieve the reality of building the church.”

Ground-breaking for community centre and church extension in Cheras

After nine years of waiting patiently, the Church of St Francis of Assisi will be undergoing its renovation to expand the current church, as well as to build a community centre.

More than 1,000 parishioners came together on Oct 9 to celebrate its final Mass before the ground-breaking ceremony at the church grounds.

Kuala Lumpur Archbishop Julian Leow led the ceremony by blessing the soil and mixing the old soil with the new to mark the event. At the end of the ceremony, the church bells were rung for the last time.

Building committee chairman John Yeo said that this marks a new milestone in the journey of the parishioners of SFA.

“It is truly a joyous occasion for all of us as we are now looking at the results of our patience and persistence of nine years,” he said.

Yeo thanked parish priest Fr Andrew Manickam OFM Cap, for his efforts in making the dream of the parishioners come true.

“However, this does not stop here. There is a lot of construction to be done and funds to be raised to achieve our goal,” he said.

Fr Andrew assured the parishioners that the church life will go on as normal with sacraments, catechism, formations all continuing, just at different venues.

Masses in English will be on Sundays at the IJ Convent at 7.30am and 10.00am while at Holy Family, it will be at 4.00pm.

There will be Masses in the vernacular languages once a month: Tamil on every second Saturday of the month and Mandarin on every third Saturday of the month at the IJ Convent at 5.30pm. Masses in BM will be celebrated every first Sunday of the month in the Church of the Sacred Heart at 5.30pm.

Catechism will be held at Holy Family Church Kajang.

The renovation of the church, which includes a multilevel community centre, is expected to be completed before the end of 2018.

New Reality
A New Reality
Becoming a Missionary Church
After spending nine years of planning and fundraising with another two years building,
our Church and Community centre is now open. Here are some of the highlights:
A Reality

The space where the faithful gather is sometimes called the nave. The gathering of the baptised is the Church, therefore, this space is critical in the renovation of the house of the church. A variety of ritual actions such as processions, the singing of the prayers, movements during baptismal rites, the sprinkling of the congregation with blessed water, the rites during the wedding and funeral liturgies, and personal devotion all take place in the nave. Since the liturgy requires various postures and movements, the space and furniture for the congregation should accommodate them well. Styles of benches, pews or chairs can be found that comfortably accommodate the human form. Kneelers or kneeling cushions should also be provided so that the whole congregation can easily kneel when the liturgy calls for it.


Solid wood pews with cushion kneelers have been placed in the church. The pews are made of 100 percent solid Nyatoh wood. “Since human beings on this earth are always made of flesh and blood, gestures, postures, language and actions are the physical, visible and public expressions by which human beings understand and manifest their inner life” (BLS #23)

Presider’s Chair
(Christ’s presence is realised in the Priest)

The chair of the priest celebrant or presider’s chair stands as a symbol of his office of presiding over the assembly and of directing prayer. An appropriate placement of the chair allows the celebrant to be visible to all in the congregation. The chair reflects the dignity of the one who leads the community in the person of Christ, but is never intended to be remote or grandiose. The Presider’s chair is distinguished from the seating for other ministers by its design and placement.

Ambo – Christ’s presence is realised in the Word of God

“The central focus of the area in which the Word of God is proclaimed during the liturgy is the ambo. The design of the ambo and its prominent placement reflects the dignity and nobility of that saving Word and draws the attention of those present to the proclamation of the Word. Here the Christian community encounters the living Lord in the Word of God and prepares itself for the “breaking of the bread” and the mission to live the word that will be proclaimed”. The design of the altar and ambo bear a

“harmonious and close relationship” to one another in order to emphasize the close relationship between word and Eucharist. (BLS #61). The new ambo reflects these high standards and will aid in drawing one’s attention to the living Word of God.

The Baptismal Font

Through the waters of baptism, the faithful enter the life of Christ. The rites of baptism, the first of the sacraments of initiation, require a prominent place for celebration. Because the rites of initiation of the Church begin with baptism and are completed by the reception of the Eucharist, the baptismal font and its location reflect the Christian’s journey through the waters of baptism to the altar.

This integral relationship between the baptismal font and altar can

be demonstrated in a variety of ways, such as placing the font and altar on the same architectural axis, using the same floor patterns, and using common or similar materials and elements of design. The font is a symbol of both tomb and womb; its power is the power of the triumphant cross; and baptism sets the Christian on the path to the life that will never end, the “eight day” of eternity where Christ’s reign of peace and justice is celebrated. (BLS 67-68)

Altar – Christ’s presence is realised in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood

Among the expressions of Christ’s presence, the Eucharist is accorded supreme prominence. The celebration of the Eucharist is the centre of the entire Christian life, both for the universal Church and for local faith communities. The other sacraments, like every other ministry of the Church and every work of the apostolate, are linked with the Holy Eucharist and have it as their end.

At the Eucharist, the liturgical assembly celebrates the ritual sacrificial meal that recalls and makes present Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, proclaiming “the death of the Lord until he comes again.” The altar is “the centre of thanksgiving that the Eucharist accomplishes” and the point around which the other rites are in some manner arrayed. Since the Church teaches that “the altar is Christ,” its composition should reflect the nobility, beauty, strength, and simplicity of the One it represents.

The altar is the natural focal point of the sanctuary and is to be freestanding to allow the priest to walk around it easily and Mass to be celebrated facing the people. Ordinarily, it should be fixed (with the base affixed to the floor) and with a table or mensa made of natural stone, since it represents Christ Jesus, the Living Stone (1 Pt 2:4). Although there is no specified size or shape for an altar, it should be in proportion to the church. The shape and size should reflect the nature of the altar as the place of sacrifice and table around which Christ gathers the community to nourish them.

12 Consecration Crosses

Consecration crosses are crosses on the interior walls and exterior architecture of a Christian church or cathedral showing where the bishop has anointed the church with chrism or holy water in order to consecrate it. There is often a place for a candle in front of each cross which is lit on the anniversary of the consecration. The crosses signify the sanctity of the church.


The number 12 stems from the symbolic use of this number in Biblical tradition. The 12 stones used by Moses to build the altar of the covenant represented the 12 tribes of Israel. There are the 12 gates of the new Jerusalem mentioned

in the Book of Revelation (21:12-14). Likewise, there are the 12 apostles. When we say the Creed we confess that “We believe in one holy Catholic and apostolic Church.” Our faith is “apostolic” because it is based on the teachings of Jesus, carried on by the apostles, the direct successors of whom are our bishops, guided by the Holy Spirit.

Stained Glass Panels

Stained glass can remind us that there is something – something beautiful – beyond the world where we live. “Christ himself made extensive use of images in his preaching, fully in keeping with his willingness to become, in the Incarnation, the icon of the unseen God.” Pope John Paul II

In the Catholic Church, stained glass artwork is intended to illustrate, supplement and portray in tangible form the teachings of the Catholic Church. As in all church stained glass, the principal subject matter in Catholic stained glass is the life of Jesus, the parables, the disciples and the Old Testament. These Catholic stained glass artworks often reflect the greater emphasis placed on the Blessed Mother, The Stations of the Cross, the sacraments and the saints.

Here in SFA, the main stained glass panels depict the life of St Francis of Assisi and some of his contemporaries. The panels which were produced locally, are numbered here in an anti-clockwise direction from the left of the church, facing the altar.

Panel 1 – St Francis of Assisi.jpg

Panel 1 – St Francis of Assisi

St Francis of Assisi was born at Assisi, Italy in 1181 and died on October 3, 1226. He founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of Saint Clare, the Third Order of St Francis and the Custody of the Holy Land. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history and the current Pope, Pope Francis takes his name in his honour.

Pope Gregory IX canonised Francis on July 16, 1228. He is the Patron Saint of Italy (together with St Catherine of Siena), of ecology and animals. It is customary for Catholic churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of October 4.

Stations of the Cross

We are best known for the life-sized statues of the Stations of the Cross. Originally conceived by Fr John of the Cross in 1965 as a way of honouring the Gethsemane Friary and making the place a centre of worship.

These 15 statues were brought in from India at a cost of $30,000. Local and skilled craftsmen were engaged to erect these stations during Fr Percival’s time for an additional cost of $15,000.

The fifteen statues were all built on the slopes and crest of a hill... silently reminding us of the drama that took place on the way to Calvary – Jesus is condemned to death, He receives the Cross,... until His death and resurrection.

Each year during Holy Week and especially Good Friday, special services were held which attracted thousands from all over the country.

The Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur would re-enact the Passion of Christ by carrying a life sized wooden cross with the faithful following from Station to Station. Nowadays, the cross is carried by the priest.

The statues have been given a new lease of life after a hiatus of two years due to the construction of the church and community centre. A small group of parishioners have been diligently working at sanding and repainting the statues. Every Friday, the Way of the Cross is prayed at 6.30pm followed by Mass at 7.15pm.

Gethsemane Garden

Before the Church was known as St Francis of Assisi, it was called “Gethsemane Church.” Even today, many would call it by that name. The reason behind this is the unique life size statues the early Capuchins brought in from India. This time we have a new garden called Gethsemane to bring the special ‘flavour’ of this place. The statue of Jesus being consoled by the angel is described in Luke 22:43. The statue was made in Bangkok.

Grotto of Our Lady of Fatima

This new Grotto has a statue of Our Lady of Fatima. It’s conducive to pray or meditate within a beautiful landscape. The statue was ordered from Rome.

Our Lady of Sorrows (Wake Room)

The Parish now has a new wake room. It is named after Our Lady of Sorrows. It can accommodate at least 100 people who can sit comfortably and pray for their loved ones.

Each of us will at some point of our lives experience a similar desolation. Like the Mother of God, the events and circumstances of life will offer us not only love, but sorrow. In these moments the witness of the Mother of Sorrows will demonstrate to us that genuine faith is not a merely a comfort, a crutch or a diversion. Faith in Christ does not bring with it exemption from the reality of our existence but grants us access to the divine life in all thing - even suffering and even death and it is through precisely these experiences that we learn the extremity of true love.

St Francis of Assisi Community Centre

The five-storey SFA Centre is a brand new building connected to the church with an overhead link bridge at Level 2, where the Multipurpose Hall (the St. John Paul II Hall) is located. The hall can accommodate 30 tables of 10 for banquet use or 500 people for conference purpose. The parish office and the Priest’s office are also located at this level for easy access. Level 1 is an open area for fellowship and similar gatherings. At the front at this Level is the Portiuncula Chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Angels that can seat 120 people.

There are seven classrooms each on Levels 3 and 4. Meeting and other utility rooms are located at these two levels. Right on top at Level 5 is the dormitory that can take in 66 ladies and 56 men. On the front wall of the Centre is a wooden Tau Cross that gives the Centre a distinctive Franciscan look.

Classrooms Named after Young Heroes of Faith

A saint does not have to die young in order to be a role model for children and adolescents of course, and many of the most popular saints lived well into adulthood. Yet there is something appealing in a child saint, having the wisdom and intrepidity (because this is indeed what it takes) to discover God’s love early in life, and “leaving all to follow Him”.

Youth is no barrier to holiness, and mere children can become saints. The call to holiness begins at Baptism; we do not have to wait for old age and grey hair to serve God. Youthful saints tell us something about sanctity, and their example is especially luminous as they dedicate their young lives to God. Youngsters need flesh and blood heroes to admire, whose courage, determination and great love of God and his Church, have been their incentive to overcome temptation and difficulties. The example of the saints counters that of the straw idols that are all too often the only ones they are offered nowadays.

Parents need to tell their children stories of the saints and bedtime is usually the best moment. (It isn’t always easy when we have the TV, video games, play stations etc., as rivals!) As well as exciting adventure stories, fairy tales, and well-known children’s novels all children love, the true life stories of the great saints and martyrs of the Church awaken their interest and fascination.

Names of Classrooms















The Chapel of Portiuncula

In the ground floor of the multi-purpose building, we have located a chapel which will be used for our daily Masses and other spiritual activities, like the Eucharistic Adoration. The Chapel will be known as the “CHAPEL OF PORTIUNCULA”.

The name ‘Portiuncula’ literally means ‘a little part’. This is the place where Francis’ heart lay. In 1216, St Francis was immersed in prayer when he saw above the altar, Christ and his Holy Mother surrounded by a multitude of angels. They asked him what he wanted for the salvation of souls and he replied immediately: “I beg you that all those who have repented and confessed their sins, and come here to visit this church may obtain full and generous forgiveness and a complete remission of all their punishment”. The feast falls on August 2 and has Plenary Indulgence (The pardon of the Portiuncula).

The History of the Portiuncula Chapel

It was a night in the year of our Lord 1216, Francis was immersed in prayer and contemplation, in the small church of the Portiuncula, when all of a sudden the church was filled with a brilliant light and Francis saw, above the altar, the Christ clothed in light and on His right His holy Mother, surrounded by a multitude of Angels. Francis with his face on the ground adored his Lord in silence!

They asked him what he desired for the salvation of souls. Francis responded immediately: “Holiest Father, even though I’m a poor sinner, I pray that all who come to this church, repented for their sins and having confessed them, may they receive a bountiful and generous pardon, with the full remission of all faults”. “Your request is great, oh Brother Francis - the Lord answered - but of greater things you are worthy and greater things you will receive. I therefore grant you your prayer, but only under the condition that you ask my Vicar on earth, on my behalf, this indulgence”.

Bro Francis immediately went to the Pontiff Honorious III, who was staying in Perugia those days, and with great candour described the vision he had. The Pope listened to him with great attention and after some difficulty gave his approval. He then said: “For how many years would you like this indulgence?” Francis responded promptly: “Holy Father, I do not ask for years, but for souls”. Happy he went towards the door, but the Pope called him back: “Do you not even want a document?” And Francis: “Holy Father, your word is enough for me! If this indulgence is from God, He will know how to manifest it; I need no document, the paper must be the Holiest Virgin Mary, Christ is the notary and the Angels the witnesses”.

A few days later, along with the bishops of Umbria, he said with eyes filled with tears, to the population gathered around the Portiuncula: “My brothers, I want to send everyone to Heaven!”

Conditions to obtain the Plenary Indulgence, of the Pardon of Assisi (for oneself or for a departed soul)

  • Sacramental Confession to be in God’s grace (during the eight days before or after);

  • Participation in the Holy Mass and Eucharist communion;

  • Visit to the Portiuncula, followed by PROFESSION OF FAITH, in order to reaffirm one’s own Christian identity;

  • Say the OUR FATHER, in order to reaffirm the dignity as child of God that one received in Baptism;

  • A prayer according to Pope’s intention, in order to reaffirm one’s membership in the Church, of which the Roman Pontiff is the foundation and sign of visible unity.

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen. We believe in one Lord , Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified, he has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

(A prayer according to the Pope’s intention.)

Bell Tower

The Parish has a new bell tower. It has three bells imported from Rome. The bell tower points heavenward, reminding men of their supernatural destiny and forbidding them to be so engrossed in the pleasures and cares of the earth as to forget their only true home.

Statue of St Michael

St Michael is believed to be the defender and protector of the faith. He is an archangel of God who has made several appearances in the Bible and other religious texts. St Michael, whose name can be translated from Hebrew to mean ‘who is like God’, is considered a manifestation of the protection and power of God.

Missionary Disciples
Missionary Disciples
Now the parishioners of SFA are called to be Missionary Disciples of Christ proclaiming the good news to the ends of the earth.
What are Relics?

Relics are physical objects that have a direct association with the saints or with Our Lord. They can be classified into three classes:

First class relics are the body or fragments of the body of a saint, such as pieces of bone or flesh.

Second class relics are something that a saint personally owned, such as a shirt or book (or fragments of those items).

Third class relics are those items that a saint touched or that have been touched to a first, second, or another third class relic of a saint.

The word relic means “a fragment” or “remnant of a thing that once was but now is no longer.” Scripture teaches that God acts through relics, especially in terms of healing. In fact, when surveying what Scripture has to say about sacred relics, one is left with the idea that healing is what relics “do.”

Any good that comes about through a relic is God’s doing. But the

fact that God chooses to use the relics of saints to work healing and miracles tells us that He wants to draw our attention to the saints as “models and intercessors” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 828).

When did the veneration of relics begin?

It was present from the earliest days of Christianity, during the Apostolic age itself. The following is an account written by the Church in Smyrna (modern day Izmir, Turkey) when its bishop, St Polycarp was burned alive:

“We adore Christ, because He is the Son of God, but the martyrs we love as disciples and imitators of the Lord. So we buried in a becoming place Polycarp’s remains, which are more precious to us than the costliest diamonds, and which we esteem more highly than gold.” (Acts of St Polycarp, composed approx. 156 AD)

Polycarp was a significant figure. He was converted by John the Apostle, who had baptised him and subsequently ordained him a bishop. Thus we see that from its outset the Church practiced devotion to the remains of the martyrs.

What is the spiritual significance?

St Jerome put it best when he said:

“We do not worship relics, we do not adore them, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the creator. But we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore him whose martyrs they are.” (Ad Riparium, i, P.L., XXII, 907). We venerate relics only for the sake of worshiping God.

The Relics in SFA

The Parish of St Francis of Assisi has been blessed with six first class relics -- St Francis of Assisi (2 relics), St Pio, St John Paul II, St Teresa of Kolkata and Blessed Angelo.

Two of these relics have been placed in the altars, one at the Chapel of Portiuncula and the other at the altar in the church. The other relics will be open to the public for veneration. – Source: CNA

Sacred Relics

John Paul II

The First Class Relic of the still liquefied blood of St John Paul II was personally presented by the Director of the John Paul II Foundation in Rome, Fr Krzysztof Wieliczko OSPPE, during Mass on Dec 7, 2017.

John Paul II was, in a real sense, the first globally oriented pope. His election coincided with the arrival of routine, worldwide, instantaneous audio-visual communications, and many of his major efforts were intended to adjust — though not to challenge — the essential tenets of Catholicism for an open, interconnected world in which nations and religions must live in daily contact with one another. By publishing unprecedented papal meditations about other faiths, he demonstrated how a Catholic may approach them with reverence. He also hoped to strengthen Catholicism in many cultures around the world by canonising far more saints — drawn from a broader geographical and occupational spectrum — than had any of his predecessors.

Fr Andrew shared that the Missionary Pope, St John Paul II, was the inspiration behind his efforts in transforming the parish of SFA into a missionary church. He also informed that the parish will continue to hold Holy Hours and provide opportunities for veneration of this sacred relic.

St Francis of Assisi

The Holy Relic of St Francis of Assisi corpus (body) was presented to Fr Andrew Manickam OFM Cap, parish priest of SFA by Fr Damian Gheorghe, the Minister General General of the Conventual at the Holy Land) at St Peter’s Basilica at the Chapel of Pius X on April 19, 2018.

On Aug 20, 2018 the parish was blessed to receive another First Class Relic of our patron saint – a small fragment of his bone. This relic will be placed in the altar in the Church.

The first part of St Francis’ call was his encounter with God at St Damiano chapel where he heard God’s invitation. (Francis, go and build my Church which as you see is being destroyed. Francis, go and prepare a house.) He immediately answered his call and spent the rest of his life inviting others to help rebuild the church,” he said, adding that not just a physical Church was to be built but to rebuild the people and clergy.

This was the mission and proof that guided all of Francis’ life.

In 1209/1210, Francis walked to Rome to request that Pope Innocent approve his lifestyle. The church elders took time to discern and reflect on what Francis was asking.

“John of St Paul, the Bishop of Sabina said to the supreme pontiff, Pope Innocent the III and his brother cardinals, “If we refuse the request of this poor man when all he asks is to be allowed to live the gospel life, for if anyone says it is something noble and irrational or impossible to observe in this man’s desire to live according to the gospel, he will be guilty of blasphemy against Christ, the author of the gospel.” Pope Innocent then approved Francis’ lifestyle after he was advised by the bishop and also by the College of Cardinals.”

St Pio of Pietrelcina

St Padre Pio was an Italian priest who was known for his piety and charity, as well as the gift of the stigmata, which has never been explained. He was born on May 25, 1887, in Pietrelcina, Italy. As a child, he was very religious and by the age of five he reportedly made the decision to dedicate his life to God. At the age of 23, he was ordained a Capuchin priest.

On September 20, 1918, while hearing confessions, Padre Pio had

his first occurrence of the stigmata: bodily marks, pain, and bleeding in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ. This phenomenon continued for fifty years, until the end of his life.

Padre Pio became internationally famous His advice on the practical application of theology he often summed up in his now famous quote, “Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry”. He directed Christians to recognize God in all things and to desire above all things to do the will of God.

Padre Pio died on September 23, 1968 and Pope John Paul II canonised Padre Pio on June 16, 2002. His feast day is September 23. He is the patron of civil defence volunteers, adolescents, and the village of Pietrelcina.

Thus 2018 is the 100 years of stigmatisation of St Pio and 50 years of his birth in heaven. And on August 20 of this significant year, SFA received the first class relic of St Pio (strands of his hair) in Rome.

St Teresa of Calcutta

Nun and missionary Mother Teresa, known in the Catholic church as St Teresa of Calcutta, devoted her life to caring for the sick and poor. Born in Macedonia to parents of Albanian-descent and having taught in India for 17 years, Mother Teresa experienced her “call within a call” in 1946. In 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation which had over 4,500 sisters and was is active in 133 countries as of 2012.

The congregation manages homes for people dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; dispensaries and mobile clinics; children’s and family-counselling programmes; orphanages, and schools. Members, who take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, also profess a fourth vow: to give “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor”.

The Parish wrote to the Missionaries of Charity, India for the first class relic but the application was turned down at the first attempt due to the request made by Mother Teresa that her body should not be exhumed. Thus, it was indeed divine intervention when we received the relic of Mother Teresa (ex capilis - hair) on Friday, September 7, 2018 in the parish office.

She lived a humble life and gave her life for the service of the destitute with so much love of God in her heart. She came to our parish in such a humble manner. Mother Teresa’s own humble faith and artless simplicity provide a good model for the way in which we receive and venerate her relic.

Blessed Angelo of Canete

Trouble had been brewing a long time, and in mid-July of 1936, it finally boiled over. Units of the army in Spanish Morocco rose up in rebellion. The Spanish Civil War had begun.

This bloody struggle that followed from 1936 to 1939 stands as one of the traumatic events of the 20th century. Historians see it as setting the stage for World War II. As many as a million people, civilians included, might have died in a conflict that pitted class

against class, ideology against ideology, unbelief against faith and left a shattered nation.

The Catholic Church was one of the main sufferers. Thousands of priests, religious and laypeople died for the faith in execution-style killings. British historian Michael Burleigh called the killing of clergy and religious “the worst example of anticlerical violence in modern history.”

Among these martyrs were Blessed Angelo of Canete and his six companions. They were all martyred in 1936. On Aug 20, 2018.

Fr Andrew led a group of pilgrims to Rome to receive the first class relic of Blessed Angelo – a small fragment of his bone. This holy relic will be kept in the new altar of Portiuncula Chapel.

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