Monday, April 20, 2009
Kuala Sepetang, Kuala Sangga and Pantai Remis *** 十八丁，老港，班台 ( 2 )
Our boatman Mr. Lee, a local resident and a fisherman, told us the story of Kuala Sangga and the church.
Kuala Sangga is a small island at the mouth of Sepetang river and Sangga river. About 100 years ago, Catholic migrants from Teochew, China inhabited the island and lived off the sea. They built houses along the coast line and linked with a long wooden bridge. There was no running water and electricity supply. They relied on rain water and power generated by generators even untll today. They also built a school and a church.
As time progressed, many had moved to the mainland. Today, about 40 households remained and none of them is Catholic.
It was about forty years ago, a fire destroyed few houses but stopped at the church. A local lady resident claimed that she saw a lady on top of the church putting out the fire. They believed it was St. Ann, the patron of the church.
With the dwindling Catholics in the island, priest from Taiping found it difficult to maintain the wooden church which was in deplorable condition. So they decided to close the church and removed the statue and other religious articles. The move met with strong opposition from the non-Christian residents.
They claimed that St. Ann was protecting the islanders. They enjoyed peaceful living and good fortune. Moreover, they have consulted their god through temple medium that should the church and statue removed, their safety and fortune would not be protected.
In order to keep the statue, they started the "save the church" project (believed to be the first and only in history by non-Christians).They contributed money, materials and labour to rebuild a new church for St. Ann. It was completed and dedicated on 31-8-1998.
They have another testimony after the building of the new church. On 26-12-2004 when islanders received the news of the tsunami, they set out to the open sea to scout the horizon for movement of the waves. They saw great waves coming towards the island but changed course when reaching the river mouth of the island. They thanked St. Ann for saving the island. (The strong waves could easily destroy all the wooden houses built right at the coast line）。
Today, there is no Catholic in the island. The church is maintain by the non-Christian islanders. They light candles, offer flowers and fruits at the altar on the 1st and 15th days of the lunar month. The Catholics would come once a year only in August to celebrate St. Ann's feast with Mass and prayer.
The small church is a full concrete building. It looks newish, clean and peaceful. We stayed there for our Rosary and prayed to St. Ann to continue intercede for the islanders. May God continue to bless them with peace and happy living.
The church is the testimony of religious harmony and the communion of people and nature. It is the living history of hard working migrants from China braving the challenging living conditions, and in their small ways, has contributed to the building of the nation. And it is a part of our local church history too.
I have a very warm, home coming feeling after the visit to this small church.
I checked through our local Catholic Directory, sadly, this small St. Ann church is not listed.
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兴文安排了小船到餐馆楼下的小码头接我们，到老港 （kuala Sangga)去参观圣亚纳小教堂，船程需时二十五分钟。
村民还有另一个见证。在26-12-2004 海啸发生后，岛民得知了消息，马上派船到外海观察海浪的移动情况。他们看到巨浪朝着他们的方向前进，但当到了小岛所处的河口时，大浪转了方向分散。这使老 港逃过了可能的灾难。他们感谢圣亚纳的又一次保佑。（巨浪会轻易的把建在沿岸的木屋摧毁）。