As a young child of 5 or so, my mum would drag me from our home in Kovan Road to the Novena Church, as the Church of St Alphonus, is affectionately called. Dragged, because as a five-year old playing with my dolls Orange Blossom and Rose Red was more important. Then began my relationship with the Novena Church.
All through my growing pains, examination woes, and relationship problems, I had always turned to the church and Our Lady. I would go every Saturday, come rain or shine. Occasionally, when I got a bit slack, somehow or other, something or other would compel me to be back at the Novena.
I remember an old cactus plant, which used to be in the church way, back when I was a kid. Churchgoers would scratch their prayers and wished on the leaves. I remember having done so too.
Because I used to live close by in my youth I would just walk to the church whenever, I fancied whether or not there was a service. So much so my dad thought I was going to become a nun. I did not end up becoming a nun, but my unabiding love for the church continued. At one stage, when I lay in a coma, one of my favourite priests from the church, Father Simon Pereira gave me extreme unction.
That I live to write this piece is a miracle of God, for which I continue to remain grateful.
In October 2014, it was announced that the Novena Church would be renovated and services would be temporarily held at a church nearby. I then decided, after attending the last Novena service at the old premises in Novena that I would wait for the new church to be built before returning to the Novena. So I stopped going to the Novena.
Someone once told me “If you want God to laugh make plans. “It proved true in my case. Recently a family member suffered cancer and on learning the news, I made my way to the holding church where the Novena services were being held and thus started my first Novena for this year. While at the service, it dawned on me, how much I had missed being at the Novena and that it does not matter where a church is located but the strength and comfort prayer gives us.
As I lit candles for family and friends that Saturday, I thanked God for teaching me important lessons on trust and faith. Thank you God for touching me, teaching me and loving me.