GEORGE TOWN: The annual Feast of St Anne at Bukit Mertajam which draws thousands of pilgrims from around the world to Penang at the end of July, will go digital this year, due to Covid-19.
The Titular Roman Catholic Bishop of Penang, Right Reverend Datuk Sebastian Francis has also announced the deferment of an official ceremony scheduled for Aug 2, for the elevation of the Church of St Anne to a minor basilica.
"Having the common good of all in mind and heart, the curbing of mass gatherings by pilgrims and devotees at the Shrine of St Anne and the Minor Basilica of St Anne, is of utmost importance, given the current situation we are facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic," Bishop Sebastian said in a statement.
"As such, the Feast this year will not be celebrated in the traditional way it has been practiced. The mission to love and serve others through the Feast of St Anne, will continue in a way that is more creative, inclusive and bridge-building, so as to reach out to the thousands of pilgrims who faithfully gather at this sacred shrine every year from near and far."
The Feast of St. Anne which usually spans 10 days, will this year, include live-streaming of the celebration of the mass in all the main languages namely Bahasa Malaysia, Tamil, English and Mandarin.
The Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a nine-day Novena to St. Anne requesting for her intercession for many prayer intentions, and a large number of personal devotions honouring St Anne through prayers and petitions, will be celebrated from July 24 to Aug 2, through the official website www.minorbasilicastannebm.com which will be available from July 1.
Bishop Sebastian described the ten-day feast and celebrations held at the historic church on mainland Penang each year, as one which "gathers many pilgrims of goodwill from different nationalities, faiths, traditions and religions at the Shrine of St Anne, creating a tangible sign and a true expression of harmony. "
"I express my heartfelt thanks and gratitude to the entire people of God and devotees of St Anne for their earnest and prayerful support in journeying through these trying times," the bishop said.
During the months when the churches were closed, the statue of St Anne had been placed closer to the gates of the main entrance where she can be visibly honoured by those who pass by.
"As the church will be closed to the public during the feast this year," Bishop Sebastian said, "one of the original statues from the Shrine will be brought out to the gates of the main entrance, while the other original statue remaining inside the Shrine will be made available in the official website through live-streaming for public devotion."
"I assure my solidarity with all the pilgrims and devotees of St Anne, as we hope and pray to be able to celebrate the Feast of St Anne next year in the usual manner," he added.
Source : https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/