Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Amidst the fast developing town of Parit Buntar lies the 102 year old Church of Our Lady of Good Health. The sufficiently large, dove-white building is a refuge for approximately 120 families from seven areas. The church began catering to the needs of Catholics in the locality in 1903 when Fr. Auve, a French priest in Nibong Tebal, formed the parish. Fr. Auve also purchased the land to establish the Chapel of St. Francis Xavier in Dennistown Estate in Parit Buntar.

In 1940, Fr. Aloysius was the first Indian priest appointed to lead the parish. Fr. Guittat followed him and later, Fr. Ashness. Fr. Noel Clement took over and developed the schools in the district. Fr. Swaminathan succeeded Fr. Clement and in turn was replaced by Fr. Andrew Francis. Fr. Francis was assisted by Fr. Norris and both were then replaced by Fr. Gauthier in 1960. Fr. Dorett served the parish for two years before leaving for Rome. Later, Fr. Manickam relieved Fr. Dorett although he in turn was posted to Sungai Petani for some time. Fr. Manickam returned to supervise the building of the new church building. In 1968 the new building was successfully completed and this is the church which stands today.

Fr. Joseph Victor was the first residential priest of Parit Buntar in 1971 and served the parish for seven years. During this time, the feast of Corpus Christi and the parish feast were celebrated on a grand scale. He organized the feast of Corpus Christi at the Town Padang, with the collaboration of the other two parishes. He changed the name of the church to Church of Our Lady of Vellangkani. It was originally known as the Church of Our Lady of Good Health. He published a monthly bulletin called "Sudar Oli" as its information arm. It was during his tenure the Aggiornamento was held in Penang in 1976. It was the first time in the history of the Church, the laity were called to conduct services and funerals.

In 1978, Fr. Victor had to leave the country due to immigration problems. The then Bishop of Penang, Soter Fernandez took over the running of the church. During this time, the laity became more involved in the pastoral work of the parish as there was a shortage of priests. In April 1979, Fr. Murphy Pakiam was assigned to celebrate the Sunday masses in the parish. A year later, in 1980, the parishioners were blessed with the arrival of two I.J. Sisters, Sr. Pia and Sr. Mary Joseph. Sr. Pia served for four years and Sr. Mary Joseph rendered her services till 1986 before being transferred to Ipoh. The sisters introduced the first Christmas carolling for the parishioners besides encouraging the youths to play a more active role in the church. In addition, they played a pivotal role in forming the Parish Women's League. Two other I.J. sisters arrived in 1986, Sr. Odile Rayan and Sr. Annamary. In May 1988, the parish was blessed with another sister, Sr. Gemma Wong.

Fr. Francis Regis served the parish for some time after Fr. Pakiam followed by Fr. James Gnanapiragasam. Fr. Anthony Pillai was then assigned to the parish. Fr. David Lourdes took over later and served the parish before Fr. Michael Dass became the resident priest in 2001. Meanwhile, Sr. Antoinette arrived in 1995 and rendered her services for eight years before being transferred to Seremban in 2003. Sr. Mary Lourdes replaced her and served the parish until 2006. In April 2002, Fr. Regis returned to the parish, this time with the assistance of Fr. Mark Michael. After the untimely death of Fr. Regis in October that year, Fr. Mark took over the helm of the church until 2006 when the current parish priest, Fr. Francis Xavier replaced him.

source: Golden Jubilee Diocese of Penang 1955-2005 Souvenir Book

Parish Priests

The priests who served the parish:

1. Fr. Francois Auve MEP 1903-1924
2. Fr. Louis Riboud MEP 1924
3. Fr. Le Mahec MEP 1924
4. Fr. J B Souhait MEP 1924
5. Fr. I.J. Aloysius 1930-1933
6. Fr. Louis Ashness 1934-1936
7. Fr. Louis Guittat MEP 1937-1939
8. Fr. Noel Clement 1939
9. Fr. Lionel Norris 1943
10. Fr. Savery Swaminathan 1948
11. Fr. Andrew Francis 1949
12. Fr. Pierre Gauthier MEP 1953
13. Fr. Anthony Dorett 1955
14. Fr. Xavier Manickam 1960
15. Fr. Joseph Victor 1971
16. Bishop Soter Fernandez 1978
17. Fr. Murphy Pakiam 1979
18. Fr. Francis Regis 1981
19. Fr. James Gnanapiragasam 1989
20. Fr. Anthony Pillai 1991
21. Fr. David Lourdes 1995
22. Fr. Michael Dass 2001
23. Fr. Francis Regis 2002
24. Fr. Mark Michael 2003
25. Fr. Francis Xavier 2006

source: Golden Jubilee Penang Diocese 1955-2005 Souvenir Book

Centenary Celebrations 1905-2007

The parish, together with the parish priest, Rev. Francis Xavier is in full swing preparing for the belated Centenary Celebrations this year.