A GRAND dinner attended by some 2,000 local and outstation church members, clergy and well-wishers as well as guests from Japan and England marked the close of a week-long religious celebration of the 500th birth anniversary of St Francis Xavier recently.
The dinner, which served as a fund-raising event, raked in a healthy sum close to RM100,000 which will be used to undertake extensive repairs and renovations to the St Francis Xavier (SFX) church built in 1849.
Dedicated to St Francis Xavier, often described as the Patron of the Missions, the local church spells a fitting tribute to the saint who used Malacca as a base for his missionary travels in South-East Asia and the Far East some 460 years ago.
The dinner highlights included the cutting of a large cake by local and visiting priests, a choral presentation by the youth choir of SFX church and a three-part tableau depicting the life of St Francis Xavier in Kagoshima and Malacca.
Together with dialogue and songs, the 22-strong cast received much ovation from the large crowd which included a 50-strong representation from Kagoshima as well as Japanese expatriates from Kuala Lumpur and twenty students from England's Stonehurst Junior College on a goodwill visit to Malaysia and Singapore.
Held at Pay Fong Middle School Hall, the glittering affair underscored tribute and recognition for the Malaysia-Kagoshima Friendship Association (M-KFA)-Malacca Club that presented Japanese-styled bronze statues of St Francis Xavier and his faithful servant Yajiro to the Banda Kaba Church of SFX on July 1.
According to SFX Church parish priest Fr James Rajendran, the presentation of the statues, apart from being gifts to commemorate the local church’s 160th founding anniversary late last year and the 500th birth anniversary of St Francis Xavier, also signalled twinning status between the local church and its namesake in Kagoshima.
“With the installation of the statues as a historical landmark in Malacca strategically located within our church compound, they will always remind us of their significance,” said Fr Rajendran.
In his dinner address M-KFA-Malacca Club chairman Akira Paul Kadota said: “We in Kagohsima feel that Malacca is a memorial in itself of the meeting of St Francis Xavier and Yajiro. The presentation and dedication of statues of these two personalities will continuously confirm the historic significance of the event.”
The saint spent some 11 years of his missionary life in Asia where he befriended Yajiro in Malacca in Dec 1547 and made his maiden trip to Kagoshima at the southern tip of Kyushu Island in Aug 1549.
The sculptor of the statues, Shuichi Mizoguchi, who was in the Japanese delegation that called at Malacca for the celebration, hoped the monuments would favourably depict the strong links between the historic city and Kagoshima.