Heritage Cemetery launched in Penang
29 November 2015
By Lucia Lai
The oldest Catholic cemetery in Penang Island (226 years old), located off Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, is in the UNESCO World Heritage Zone. It is adjacent to the bigger, and more well-known old Protestant cemetery where Penang’s founder, Capt. Francis Light was buried.
Catholics and Protestants had worked together to restore the cemetery, in collaboration with the Penang Heritage Trust. An estimated RM300,000 was required for the restoration.
On Nov 1, the eve of All Souls Day, the Diocese of Penang launched the restoration campaign with a brief service. The service was held outdoors at St Joseph’s Home. About 100 people turned up for the service, with Bishop Sebastian Francis leading the prayers. Parish priest, Fr Nelson Chitty, and assistant parish priest, Fr Joachim Robert, of City Parish were also present.
Before the service began, Bishop Sebastian thanked the people and organizations involved in the restoration campaign, namely, the Penang Heritage Trust, Georgetown World Heritage and the State Government. Donors were not forgotten.
Bishop Sebastian informed the people that the oldest tombstone discovered at this Catholic Heritage Cemetery was that of a woman from Macau, dated 1798, and the most recent was from 1920.
“In this cemetery, lie many missionaries, traders, sailors and European noblemen. The missionaries, particularly the Infant Jesus Sisters, who are buried here, were the pioneers of education. We are forever grateful to them for the mission they carried out. However, we do not dwell in the past but let the mission continue.”
He said that the keyword to remember is ‘communion’ or ‘solidarity.’We live in communion with the past missionaries and the present missionaries, and it is the saints who unite us in this communion.
After the service, many people joined the Bishop and Fr Nelson, as they went about to bless the graves.
After the blessing of the graves, the Eucharistic Celebration was held at St Francis Xavier’s Church, with Bishop Sebastian as the celebrant.
In his homily, he spoke again on ‘communion.’ He said that we all live in communion or solidarity with the saints. All the saints are missionaries who were sent out.
“Mission, powered by the Holy Spirit, continues and never stops. We are all missionaries, like the saints, called by the Lord as we celebrate this great unity and communion with the saints.”
He said, “Saints are men and women of substance. This beautiful feast of the saints reminds us that the mission continues.”
NOTE: Photos at Facebook