- 2010/04/03 Churches packed as thousands mark Good Friday

George Town: One by one, parishioners came forward to kneel and kiss the feet of Jesus Christ on the cross.

The alter was stripped bare, the cross veiled and statues of the Holy Family and saints at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Pulau Tikus were covered with purple cloth.

It was a day of reflection and remembrance yesterday as Christians celebrated Good Friday.

From morning until midnight, the faithful packed churches all over the state for the anniversary of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

In Catholic churches, parishioners participated in the Veneration of the Cross Ė a special part of the Good Friday mass where Catholics honour Jesus Christ by kissing a crucifix.


Image: Thousands of Catholics gathered at the countryís oldest church, the 300-year-old St Peterís Church in Malacca, to witness the traditional religious observance of Good Friday here yesterday. They joined other Christians who attended mass at various churches throughout the country. The holy day commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ while Easter celebrates his resurrection.
Thousands of Catholics gathered at the countryís oldest church, the 300-year-old St Peterís Church in Malacca, to witness the traditional religious observance of Good Friday here yesterday. They joined other Christians who attended mass at various churches throughout the country. The holy day commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ while Easter celebrates his resurrection.



The attendance at Immaculate Conception's 3pm mass was overwhelming, as the church was packed for the one-and-a-half hour service with parishioners standing or sitting in the aisles and around the entrance.

Consultant Rohan Marshall, 47, said Good Friday mass was the perfect conclusion to the Lent season, a 40-day period of reflection and abstinence before Easter when Catholics remember Christ's fasting and temptation in the desert.

"This is a season of giving up one's self before experiencing the joy of the resurrection (of Christ). On a personal level, Good Friday mass is a chance to connect with God in a very special way," he said.

In Malacca, thousands of Catholics converged at the 300-year-old St Peter's Church for service.

They carried candles as offerings to fulfill their annual vows for blessings received and prayers answered.

Among the non-Christians present were Goh Say Fong and husband Tony Lim Sek Khiang, in their 50s, who travelled from Ipoh for the ceremony.

The Buddhist couple, who run a vegetarian foodstall in Kampar, said they came to know of Good Friday through a friend and made their first trip down nine years ago.

"We have been coming here for Good Friday over the years to offer prayers for our families," Goh said, adding that they made a vow to participate in the religious observance here when their prayers were answered four years ago.

Meanwhile, members of the local Portuguese-Eurasian community came out in full force to mark the occasion.

There was the appearance of the Irmaos de Igreja or Brothers of the Church, comprising male descendants from the local Portuguese community who assisted in the procession and ceremonies.

The group of men, robed in red and white, are known to be the oldest surviving Catholic church society in the region.

In Johor Baru, the Sacred Heart Cathedral was the venue of a re-enactment of the crucifixion of Jesus.

A parishioner, Josephine Fernandez, 46, said the play was so real that she was moved to tears.

"I could feel the pain that Jesus went through," she said, adding that she has been going to the church for the past 25 years.

John De Souza, the director of the play, said the 80 cast and crew members took months to prepare for the show.

In Sarawak, thousands of Christians thronged churches for Good Friday mass, one of two Malaysian states where it is a public holiday.

As in previous years, Good Friday mass begun on Thursday evening, but it was not until yesterday morning that most churches here were packed to the brim.

From as early as 8am, worshippers started to line the empty streets in various parts of the city, and in typical Sarawak fashion, services were conducted in English, Chinese, Bahasa Malaysia and in native languages.

Good Friday is also a public holiday in Sabah.

The holy day commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, while Easter celebrates his resurrection three days later.

In Klang, parishioners observed the Stations of the Cross, detailing the last moments of Jesus Christ, at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes. Today is Holy Saturday, marking the end of Lent.

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