09/13/2010, 00.00
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1935-2010: 75 years of Redemptorisit mission in Singapore and Malaysia

by Jeremy Lim
They arrived in the worst period for the region occupied by the Japanese on the eve of World War II. Their commitment has remained unchanged for over 75 years. A book and a musical to celebrate not only a congregation, but the whole Church in Singapore and Malaysia.

Singapore (AsiaNews) - This year the Redemptorists celebrate 75 years of their presence in Singapore and Malaysia. They arrived in British Malaysia in 1935 (pictured at the time), one of the darkest periods of its history, which saw the Second World War and mass killing, the Japanese occupation which led to poverty and hunger.

In a shattered world, they began to spread the love of God through their works. Over the years their presence has grown, and now they run parishes, care for prison inmates, follow the young and the elderly, and hold the famous Novena.

Saturday Novena is a real institution in Singapore and attracts thousands of people of different faiths, seeking the intercession of the Virgin Mary. Each week students, officials, affluent, Filipino domestic workers and even Hindus flock to the church on Thomson Road. It first began in 1949 and since then little has changed.

Father Peter Wee, a 30 year old Redemptorist tells AsiaNews that their goals are the same as they were in the beginning: to spread the Good News and pray for full redemption in Christ. "The methods may change - he says - and today we use modern technology such as Internet and texting to spread the Good News." "But we always want the people of God to experience the fullness of God's redemption, without distinction of social status, rich or poor, young or old, male or female, educated or not."

The Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer or the Redemptorists, now wants to involve people through a musical on the life of its founder, St. Alphonsus de Liguori. It was staged in Kuala Lumpur and Singapoer to raise funds for earthquake victims in Haiti.

A book will also be published for the 75th anniversary entitled " To mark their 75th anniversary, the Redemptorists also launched a special book entitled ‘Tree of Redemption: People, Places, Pilgrims’. It details their journey of faith and service and includes vivid interviews with priests and devotees. The book features inspirational stories of people whose lives were changed by the Redemptorists. In one tale, a suicidal girl drops by the church to say goodbye. Unaware of her plans, a priest invites her for tea. His generosity of time makes her change her mind, and the girl goes home to tear up her suicide note.

The book also recalls the story of St. Alfonso and the foundation of the Order, as well as the arrival of the Redemptorists in Singapore.

Vice-Provincial Fr Patrick Massang tells AsiaNews that " They came with nothing except a zeal and passion to make God known to the most abandoned. After 75 years, the passion and zeal still continue to live on"." This celebration - he concludes – is not just for Redemptorists but a celebration for the Church of Singapore and Malaysia”.

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