Parishioners mark first day of Holy Week with joyful procession

(From left) Lee with his wife Owe and children, Regina and Branden; Sharon with her husband Calvin (carrying their daughter Valencia) selecting palm branches at the St Anne’s Church in Jalan Kulim, Bukit Mertajam, Penang. — Photos: MUSTAFA AHMAD/The Star

OVER 2,000 parishioners joyously waved palm leaves as they took part in a meaningful procession to celebrate Palm Sunday at St Anne’s Church in Bukit Mertajam, Penang.

They sang the chorus ‘Hosanna’ in different languages as they encircled the church compound before mass began at the main building also known as The Sanctuary.

Penang Catholic Diocese bishop Rev Datuk Sebastian Francis performed the blessing at the open air altar with the congregation, clutching palm branches at the entrance yesterday. He later led a 30-minute procession.

It was also joined by parish priest Monsignor Henry Rajoo, deacons, communion ministers, cross bearers, light bearers and altar servers.

Christians throughout the world celebrate Palm Sunday to commemorate Jesus Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem before His crucifixion.

Francis (centre)
Bishop Sebastian blessing the group of incense bearers before the start of the procession.

Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of the Holy Week is closely followed by Holy Thursday, where Jesus introduces the practice of the Holy Communion through the last supper with His 12 disciples.

On Good Friday, Jesus is put to death on the cross, before His resurrection on Easter Sunday, which is the most important day in the Christian calendar.

A brief reading from the Bible and introduction to the Palm Sunday celebration was also given at the start of the procession.

Peter Lee, 37, from Bukit Tengah, said attending mass on Palm Sunday had been a family tradition taken after from his parents and grandparents.

“We will usually replace the old palm branches hanging in our homes with newly blessed ones that we receive during this mass,” he said.

Lee, who was with his wife Susan Owe, 37 and children Regina, four, and Branden, four, said he also believed in exposing his children to the tradition at a young age itself to follow.

Company technician Calvin Williams, 45, was in his Sunday best with wife Sharon Mary, 37, and daughter Valencia Ann, four.

Lights bearers leading the Palm Sunday procession at St Anne’s Church in Bukit Mertajam. (Right pic) Bishop Sebastian blessing the group of incense bearers before the start of the procession.
Lights bearers leading the Palm Sunday procession at St Anne’s Church in Bukit Mertajam.  

Though they did not have a place to sit inside the packed church, they sportingly stood outside and knelt down in prayer when needed during mass.

“We are here to offer thanksgiving for the birth of our fourth child Thanisha Ann, who was born last November,” said Sharon, a teacher at SJK(T) Bukit Mertajam.

The couple have two other girls Elisha Ann, three, and Maurisha Ann, two.

Monsignor Henry said this year’s Holy Week focuses on fostering stronger ties and communication within the basic family unit.

“We hope families will be able to reflect on this theme to have greater bonding with each other,” he said.

He said Holy Thursday mass will be held at the church on Thursday at 8pm, while Good Friday service will be held on Friday at 3pm.

Easter Vigil mass will be on Saturday from 8pm to 11pm, while Easter Sunday mass will be on Sunday at 8am.

Parishioners taking part in the Palm Sunday procession.
Parishioners taking part in the Palm Sunday procession. 

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Religion , Northern Region , holy week , christian


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