First mass for new $60m Punggol church

ST VIDEO: NG JUN SEN
Some 1,000 worshippers attended mass at the newly built Church of The Transfiguration in Punggol Central yesterday. The church, which sits on a 3,000 sq m piece of land, will be the 32nd Roman Catholic church in the Archdiocese's stable after its ded
Some 1,000 worshippers attended mass at the newly built Church of The Transfiguration in Punggol Central yesterday. The church, which sits on a 3,000 sq m piece of land, will be the 32nd Roman Catholic church in the Archdiocese's stable after its dedication on Aug 6.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Father Joachim Chang washing the feet of 12 churchgoers in a Maundy Thursday tradition during Mass last night at Singapore's newest Catholic church, the Church of the Transfiguration, in Punggol. The deed was a re-enactment of biblical history, when
Father Joachim Chang washing the feet of 12 churchgoers in a Maundy Thursday tradition during Mass last night at Singapore's newest Catholic church, the Church of the Transfiguration, in Punggol. The deed was a re-enactment of biblical history, when Jesus Christ washed the feet of his disciples the day before he was crucified on Good Friday, observed by Christians today. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Service held on Maundy Thursday to remind worshippers of the importance of humility

Singapore's newest Roman Catholic church held its first mass on Maundy Thursday, after four years of construction to erect the $60 million five-storey building in Punggol.

Some 1,000 worshippers attended the annual mass at the Church of The Transfiguration, located in front of Punggol Waterway Park and next to Punggol bus interchange.

The Maundy Thursday service, held annually on the Thursday before Easter, involves the washing of the feet of churchgoers. Yesterday, Rev Joachim Chang, who leads the church, washed the feet of 12 people who sat in front of the altar.

Said Father Chang, 54: "We chose this day for our first mass to remind our faithful that to serve in humility, one must lead in humility."

The church, which sits on a 3,000 sq m piece of land, will be the 32nd Catholic church in the Archdiocese's stable after its dedication on Aug 6. The 30-year leasehold land was acquired at $24 million in 2013. As of last month, the church has raised around $35.7 million out of the required $60 million, said Father Chang. Fund raising started in September 2015.

Bukit Batok resident Maggie Loo, in her 60s, who attended the service, said: "The service was good and the ambience of the church is okay, but it was rather crowded today."

The church, which can hold around 1,000 people, aims to accommodate the growing number of Roman Catholics in the north-eastern side of Singapore and will help reduce the strain at Sengkang's St Anne's Church and Pasir Ris' Church of Divine Mercy.

Father Chang said that those churches are often filled to the brim during services, with some worshippers having to stand at the doors.

"We are located near the Punggol MRT station, so we can potentially serve about 13,000 to 15,000 parishioners who live along the North-East Line," said Father Chang.

He said volunteers had worked feverishly to prepare for yesterday's mass. The church pews, of which 70 per cent had been installed so far, had to be carried in by volunteers. Additional seating was provided for the worshippers where possible.

"Over the past few weeks, I have had to chase the volunteers to go home and rest. If any company had employees like them, it would be very enviable indeed," said Father Chang.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2017, with the headline 'First mass for new $60m Punggol church'. Print Edition | Subscribe