Monday, April 20, 2009

Kuala Sepetang, Kuala Sangga and Pantai Remis *** 十八丁,老港,班台 ( 2 )

The boat journey

Peter has arranged a boat to pick us at the restaurant jetty for the 25 minutes trip to kuala Sangga Island to visit the small church.

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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The interior of the church, Mr. Lee at left. 教堂内部。 最左为李先生


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。

船主李先生是天主教徒,本地人,以渔业为生。他告诉了我们有关这小教堂的历史及故事。

老港处在十八丁及桑加河口。大约在一百年前(十八 、九世纪),来自中国潮州的移民就定居在这个岛上,以海为生。他们在海岸旁建立了木屋,以木桥互相连接。这里到今天,仍然没有电流及自来水的供应。他们以发电机发电,雨水作为食水及日常使用。他们也建立了一所学校及一间教堂。

随着环境的改变,许多岛民已经移居到内陆,目前只剩下大约四十户人家,没有一家是天主教的家庭。

大约在四十年前,一场大火烧毁了数间屋子,但到了教堂,火却熄灭了。当时有一位妇人,她说看到一位妇人,在教堂上把火熄灭。他们认为就是圣亚纳,这间小堂的主保圣人。

随着教友的减少,这件破旧教堂的维修及保管非常困难。驻太平的管理神父决定把它关闭,并移走所有的圣像及圣物。这个决定受到当地非教友岛民大力的反对。

他们归功圣亚纳的保佑下,岛民享受稳定及平安的生活。他们也去找过膜拜的神,通过乩童,被告知千万不要让这圣像被移走,教堂拆除,不然这个岛的平安及财富就没有了保护了。

为了不让圣像被移走,村民们展开了“保堂行动”。我想这是有史以来,第一次非教友保护教堂运动。他们慷慨的捐赠现金 、建筑材料及劳力等,把水泥教堂建起来。新的教堂在1998年,8月31日正式开幕祝圣。

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)。

今天,岛上已经没有天主教徒了。这间教堂的保养 、清洁工作,就由非教友村民负责。他们在每个农历月的初一及十五,必会到来点蜡烛,供奉鲜花。天主教徒只有在每年的八月,到来参加主保日敬礼及弥撒。

这小教堂是全水泥建筑物。看起来很新 、清洁,也有一种宁静的气氛。我们大家在里面躬诵玫瑰经,要求圣妇亚纳,继续为这个小岛的村民转祷,祈求天主继续降福他们,平安,生活稳定顺利。

这间教堂是宗教和谐,人和大自然共融的见证。这是来自中国的移民,勇敢、勤奋开荒,为国家作出贡献的活生生历史。这也是我们天主教会历史的一部分.

到过了这教堂后,至今仍然有一种非常温馨 、回家的感觉。

可惜,当我查阅教会的通信录册子,这间教堂没有列入册内。

2 comments:

溪水信女 said...

哗!好羡慕叻!以后再到那里时,别忘了我啊!希望在那里记得为我在圣妇亚纳耳边寄上一些祈祷:不用做圣人,做个好修女就心满意足啦!

Simon Phun said...

哈哈,我和阿婆说了, 是个“好修女”叫我来的。我也转达你的问候。

假如有机会,到那一日游,退省 、放松 、回归大自然最好不过了。。。

下次你带队吧!