Monday, August 3, 2009

Church of the Holy Name of Jesus, Balik Pulau

Balik Pulau Catholic Church actual name is Church of the Holy Name of Jesus, Balik Pulau. The church is located at main street, Balik Pulau. It is under the Diocese of Penang,which covers the states of Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Kelantan and Perak. There are 28 parishes. In the state of Penang,there are:

1. City Parishes: Church of Our Lady of Sorrows(1888,Macalister Road), Church of The Assumption(1786, Farquhar Street), Church of St Francis Xavier(1957, Penang Road), Church of St John Britto(1969, Sungei Pinang Road)
2. Church of the Immaculate Coneption, Pulau Tikus, 1819
3. Risen Christ Church, Air Itam, 1968
4. Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, Green Lane, 1968
5. Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary,Butterworth, 1935
6. Church of St Anne,Bukit Mertajam, 1846
7. Church of the Holy Name of Mary, Simpang Ampat, Permatang Tinggi,1893 and
8. Church of the Holy Name of Jesus, Balik Pulau, 1848

The earliest was Church of The Assumption, which was found in 1786, the year Capt Francis Light found George Town. Balik Pulau Catholic Church or Church of the Holy Name of Jesus was found in 1848(as reported in the website of diocese),with 161 years history. The building was however completed in 1854( as seen in the church building). The beginning of the church can traced even earlier to 1845, when the first parish priest Reverent Father Ducotey start the first Eucharist service in an attap hut.

History of Catholic in Penang

Francis Light gave the Catholics a piece of land bounded today by Pitt Street, Bishop Street, China Street and Church Street. Immediately after Francis Light hoisted the Union Jack in Penang on 11th August 1786, he sent his ship ‘Speedwell’ to bring the remaining Catholics in Kuala Kedah to Penang . They landed on the 15th of August, a date that is known to Catholics as the Feast of the Assumption. The Catholic community, led by now Bishop Coude and his assistant Father Garnault settled in the vicinity and with ‘Light’s permission’, Father Garnault built the first Church, named Church of the Assumption, on Church Street. This primitive Church was built of timber and roofed with attap. It was constructed on stilts because the site was a mangrove swamp that extended from the eastern shore of the town to present Carnavon Street. In 1787, on the death of Bishop Coude, Father Garnault became Superior of the Catholic Mission in Siam with the title

of ‘Bishop of Siam and Queda’, and the Parish House for the Bishop and Priests was built on present Bishop Street. In 1860 the Church of The Assumption was built at Farquar Street and which was subsequently renamed The Cathedral of The Assumption.

The Catholic Community in Georgetown was located in, presently known, Argus lane, Love Lane and Muntri Street. The Hokkien inhabitants in the early days of Penang referred to these streets as ‘Sek-lan-ni hang’ and the church as ‘sek-lan-ni Le-pai-tng au hang-a’ which could be literally translated as ‘Christian Sunday Praying-place’ (cf, Reutens,G.S., undated)

(source: Early Catholic Church, La Salle Education and The Penang Story , by Dr. Anthony E. Siber t )

The beginning of the church can traced even earlier to 1845, when the first parish priest Reverent Father Ducotey start the first Eucharist service in an attap hut. In 1897, Balik Pulau had approx 250-300 catholic converts. Some of these converts were the followers of Taiping Rebellion in China, after the collapse of Heavenly Kingdom in 1864, the followers and the armies escaped from China. Some of them landed in Balik Pulau. In 1909, SJKC Sacred Heart was opened at main street .

The St George English School was opened at Balik Pulau in 1920(now SK St George Balik Pulau). In 1950, SMK Sacred Heart was opened, and 1953, SMK St George was opened.

Note: Penang was hazy when these photo were taken.

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