Last Saturday, 11 August 2018, we had a blessing of the icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help (OMPH) at our Church. It was held during the novena prayer to Our Lady at 6pm, before the Sunset Mass. It was also the day our 24 candidates received the Sacrament of Confirmation. About 800 parishioners, including those from other parishes, witnessed the blessing.
Many of our parishioners still remember the image of OMPH, which was placed at a prominent location in Church’s sanctuary. After a major renovation six years ago, the icon was removed. When I newly moved to this parish, I was doing some spring-cleaning and found two images of OMPH in the parish store room. One with a frame and the other, carved in wood. I was just waiting for a right time to bring the framed image back to the Church sanctuary but that didn’t seem to happen – probably because I was procrastinating. Finally, I decided to hang both images in the parochial house. Sometime last year, I have found a small painting of OMPH on wood, which someone had discarded in the Church’s compound. It was still intact and I believe it is more than 50 years old. The image is a beautiful green colour and I keep it on my office table. To me, it is precious and unique.
In June 2018, when I went on retreat to Chiangmai, Thailand, I happened to visit an old Thai friend, whom I first met in 1998 in Penang. He is an iconographer (a maker of sacred images or icons or drawings). In his little factory, I was shown an icon of OMPH and I was fascinated by it. I managed to have the icon commissioned for our church, and it was transported to our parish within a month. I opened the parcel 3 weeks later and found one of the angel’s wings broken and the icon of OMPH cracked. I immediately took them to Seremban for repair, and managed to have it fixed and ready before the blessing last Saturday.
The icon of OMPH has now been placed at the left wing of the Church’s sanctuary. It looks so majestic. Our Mother of Perpetual Help is also known as Our Lady of Perpetual Succor, which represents the Mother of God, holding the Divine Child while Archangel Michael and Archangel Gabriel present before Him the instruments of His passion. Years ago, thousands of this Holy Picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was sent from St. Alphonsus’ Church in Rome, to every part of the world.
Today, every Church has its icon or image or statue. In Malaysia, we have Churches dedicated to Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Ipoh Garden, Perak and Mentakab, Pahang. I know many Catholic parishioners who strongly devote their novenas to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Let us always recall and learn how the Blessed Virgin Mary lived her life on earth by cooperating to the will of God, keeping the Word of God and pondering them in her heart by serving others – especially her cousin, Elizabeth.
My dear parishioners, pray the rosary always so that our souls may join the Blessed Virgin Mary in magnifying Lord Jesus.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy
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