We number approximately 600 Catholic families, a
mixture of old Puchong, of estate-mining roots, and new
Puchong, young families catching the development wave.
We worship in a shoplot chapel at 13th-Mile Puchong Road, this being the latest in a series of location moves since pioneers erected the first chapel on estate land at 10th-Mile in 1934.
Many of us do not attend Sunday mass at the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes, the reason being it seats only 120 persons at most. We do not have facilities for Catechism lessons for our children. Instead they, with their parents make weekly visits to the surrounding churches in Petaling Jaya and Kuala Lumpur for their religious education and worship obligations.
Our BECs function only in fits and starts, if at all. It is extremely difficult to mould our parishioners into a cohesive community. Tipping the scales further is the fact that our parish priest is not resident in Puchong. In a setting that is tradition-bound to look on him centrally for references spiritual and temporal, it is little wonder our faith community struggles for relevance and focus.
This sad state is about to change, or so we hope, seeing that structures to our new church have begun, and will be complete by 2004. At this juncture, it is perhaps relevant to go back to the beginning, take a look at how it all began, and pluck references from there, on which to build our future.
One man's strong faith, vision and dedication brought about the birth of the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes, and with that the eventual church named in honour of Our Lady of Guadalupe in April 2002 by Archbishop Emeritus Soter Fernandez at its groundbreaking ceremony.
For our beginnings, we owe a huge debt to the late Mr M Singarayan, a mandore at Castlefield Estate, Puchong. In 1934, feeling the need for a place of worship for the Catholic community there, he appealed to the estate management for a piece of land for the purpose. This was graciously granted by his manager, Mr Stewart, who also helped to build a wooden chapel near the estate cemetery at the 10th-Mile Castlefield Estate Road. That was the modest beginning. The structure could accommodate only 20 people at most. This chapel at 10th-Mile Castlefield Estate was demolished in 1954 for security reasons.
At the height of the Emergency (period of communist insurgency in the country), on the orders of Sir Gerald Templer, the residents of Castlefield Estate were relocated to Division One at the 11 1/2th Mile Puchong Road.
Once again, the Catholic community found itself without a house of worship. The untiring Mr Singarayan once again rose to the occasion and persuaded estate owners, Harissons & Crossfield , through the good offices of their manager, Mr Herman, to donate a half acre of land at 11 1/2th Mile Puchong Road in 1959. With that, efforts to build another chapel began in earnest.
Mr Herman contributed the granite, cement and bricks for the building of the altar and grotto. The granite was mined from the nearby hills.
Mr J S Sebastian, manager of Hume Industries supplied the pebbles and sand. Much help came from a few of Mr Singarayan's Christian friends, who solicited cash donations from the estate and tin-mining communities in the vicinity.
The late Rev Fr Noel Clement, parish priest of St Anthony's Church, then mother church to Puchong district, contributed to the effort by supplying teak beams for the roofing, while tending to the spiritual needs of the enlarging community.
Between 1959 and 1960, the chapel at 11 1/2th Mile Puchong Road began to take shape under the watchful stewardship of Mr Singarayan.
The statue of Our Lady of Lourdes, previously housed in the old demolished chapel was then brought to the new premises.
Sadly Mr Singarayan did not live to see the official opening of the new chapel. He passed away peacefully on 20 January 1960.
The new chapel at 11 1/2th-Mile, named in honour of Our Lady of Lourdes was graciously opened by His Grace Archbishop Emeritus Tan Sri Dominic Vendargon on 25 February 1960.
This Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes served as the focal point for the Catholic community in need of a house of worship and a centre for fellowship.
Unfortunately, this too had to be demolished in 1995, this time because development moved in. So began another of three location moves, first to the Seri Setia Construction Office in Pusat Bandar Puchong, then across the highway to a shoplot nearby, at 27G, Jalan Bandar Tiga, and onward to the present premises, at 5G, Jalan Industri PBP 1/2, Taman Industri Pusat Bandar Puchong (13th-Mile Puchong Road) in October 2001 when the lease on the old shoplot expired.
The note of cheer in this string of dislocations is that the present chapel faces its future church grounds. Each Sunday, we can look across at the construction site, and dream of the day when we can offer praise in a church big enough to accommodate all who are community.
Fundraising for the project has reached about the halfway mark. With the fervent efforts of sister churches in the P J district namely, St Ignatius, Assumption and Francis Xavier, and well wishers from around the Klang Valley and beyond, the church that had its modest origins in the estate can now look to the day of its completion. That in the one instance will be fulfillment and advent.
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Demolished Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes at 11 1/2-Mile Puchong Road:
The late Mr Sinagaran.
The grotto above the altar
Artist's drawing of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe.