First chapel within hospital in Sarawak: Sacred Heart Chapel opens in Sarawak Heart Centre

(From left) Dr Mohd Asri, Poh, Richard and Roy in a photo call after officiating at the Sacred Heart Chapel in Sarawak Heart Centre.

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By Lian Cheng and Karen Bong

KOTA SAMARAHAN, March 4: The Sacred Heart Chapel of Sarawak Heart Centre, the first chapel within a hospital compound, has been declared open today.

Catholic Archbishop of Kuching Dr Simon Poh, who was one of the guests of honour to officiate the opening, said the chapel was built to provide a place for Christians patients and Sarawak Heart Centre staff to pray.

“This is the first chapel to be built inside a hospital compound. The chapel is not only for the use by Christians, but a space has been partitioned as a prayer space for the use of those of other faiths.

“This is Sarawak, and Sarawak Heart Centre will be a role model in Malaysia. The chapel is a symbol of mutual respect, acceptance of differences of various religions, faiths and cultures,” Poh told DayakDaily.

The Sacred Heart Chapel is the first facility of its kind to be built in a hospital compound in Sarawak.

Following the opening ceremony today, a monthly mass will be conducted at the chapel, as that was the main reason for it to be built in the first place. At other times, anyone may enter and pray at the chapel.

Poh said starting in 2015, due to requests among the hospital’s Christian staff and patients, the Catholic Church had started to conduct monthly mass in the hospital, sometimes in a small room and other times, along the corridor.

With that, Sarawak Heart Centre director Dr Mohd Asri Riffin saw the need and agreed for a chapel to be built within the hospital compound.

In his brief speech, Dr Mohd Asri emphasised that the hospital is all for taking care of the needs of people of all faiths so as to create a harmonious atmosphere with mutual respect and tolerance, more so in Sarawak which has led the way in racial unity and diversity.

“We are thankful for the allocation from the State government and Unifor to make this possible that provides a place not only for the Christians to pray but for all of us with different faiths to come together and strengthen our ties and bonds,” he added.

Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) Sarawak director Richard Lon pointed out there are plans to set up similar facilities in hospitals in other parts of Sarawak with the help from local organisations and communities.

“This is an inclusive initiative. This is not only a chapel for Catholics but our aim is to create a place for people of other faiths to find a quiet time to pray and seek strength in times of need,” he said.

Poh (in white robe) together with (from right) Roy, Richard and Dr Mohd Asri cutting the ribbon in a symbolic gesture at the opening of the Sacred Heart Chapel in Sarawak Heart Centre.

Poh expressed thanks and appreciation to Unifor for contributing RM280,000 for the building of the chapel, while the Catholic Church chipped in RM100,000.

The chapel, which can cater to more than 100 worshippers at a time at full capacity, will only be able to accommodate 40 worshippers due to the Covid-19 pandemic after taking into consideration the preventive measures and standard operating procedures (SOP).

“A hospital is a place offering physical healing. The need to build a chapel within its compound shows that apart from physical healing, we also need emotional and spiritual healing.

“I believe with the chapel, Sarawak Heart Centre can offer a holistic healing for anyone visiting the place,” Poh added.

The chapel will be managed by a committee chaired by Roy G Fender Entusa.

It will be open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm. — DayakDaily