From The Star:
Church turns 150
MEMBERS of the Penang Catholic community will gather at the Church of St Francis Xavier tomorrow to celebrate its 150th anniversary.
Standing out amid the modern buildings along Penang Road with its thatched atap roof, the church was first established in 1856 by Fr Francis Xavier Hob.
According to church records, Fr Hob gathered a community of about 100 people to start a parish in a chapel close to a Catholic cemetery on what is now Penang Road.
Some 10 years later, the first church was built along with a presbytery and Tamil school.
Fr Perrichon took over the task of building a second church over the dilapidated first building at the beginning of the 20th century.
The number of parishioners swelled to about 4,000 in the 1930s and 20 years later in 1952, a new church was completed on the original site with financial help from a family in England with the surname of Grummit.
“St Francis Xavier’s was amalgamated with Church of Our Lady of Sorrows and Church of St John Britto in 1988 to form City Parish, Penang.
“The Church of the Assump-tion was amalgamated later as well,” said City Parish’s Fr Michael Thoo.
He said parishioners of the churches had dwindled as people began to move out of the town.
“St Francis Xavier’s currently has one mass a week, which is the Sunday evening mass in English at 6pm.
“The other churches of City Parish such as the Assumption are nearby and are able to cater for crowds at other times during the week,” Fr Thoo added.
However, the Church of St Francis Xavier has remained active with the La Salle Learning Centre, Lighthouse Community Service Centre for the Poor and St Joseph’s Home located within the church compound, he said.
Faithful from all over the Penang Diocese, which includes the states of Penang, Perak, Perlis, Kedah and Kelantan, are expected to attend the Triduum Masses at 7pm today in preparation for the anniversary. Masses were also held on Thursday and yesterday.
The feast day and anniversary mass will be held tomorrow at 6pm.
“All are welcome for the feast day mass and to a fellowship dinner after the mass as well,” Fr Thoo said.
For inquiries, contact the secretariat of City Parish at 04-2261502.