Our Parish Community
The Church of Saint Thomas has a long, proud history of serving the community of Kuantan. Through the dedication of our priests and parishioners, past and present, we have committed ourselves to evangelize Jesus Christ by experiencing the Sacraments and being deeply rooted in the Word of God.
We, as parishioners, extend our warmest greetings and welcome you to join our vibrant community.
A Brief History of the Church Altar
This was related by Mr Aw Ti Kuang, the elder brother of Shirley Aw-Francis. His late father, Mr Aw Eng Kiaw, was responsible for the carpentry work of the present church building. The church furniture-the altar, the baptismal fount and the pews came from a huge tree, about 10-15 metre high, in the church compound.
When the construction of the church began, the tree was cut down and brought to the late Mr Aw Senior’s workshop. Fr Henriot asked him to use the trunk to build the bottom section and the flat-top of the altar. The remaining piece of the trunk was fashioned into the baptismal fount from which many baptisms have been carried out.
Some of the thick branches were made into stands to contain holy water at the church entrance. There were still plenty of good timber logs left from the tree. These were sawn into thick planks and used to make pews designed by Fr Henriot. The pews at the centre portion of the church, at the triangular section and the sides were made from this huge tree.
Contributed by Mr. Aw Dai Kooi
The Priest who Initiated
1964, Rev. Fr. Antoine Henriot was appointed as the new parish priest and served in Kuantan until 1970. Fr Henriot was a far sighted priest who saw the need to build a larger church to accommodate the increasing Catholic population of Kuantan. He contacted the Bishop of Kuala Lumpur Diocese, Rt Reverend Dominic Vendargon and started a Fund Raising Campaign for this purpose.
The latter gave the green light and even promised to reciprocate a dollar for every dollar collected. He would ask the parishioners to contribute through the pledge card for the future new Church building. He also appealed for donations from several sources by writing to the Vatican and also his parents in France. The response was fantastic and the amount pledged and collected far exceeded the target of RM250,000. Even the Bishop had a shock and had to withdraw his pledge of “dollar for dollar” but gave RM50,000 toward the building of the Church. The next stage was consulting the architect and calling for tender and etc to build the rhombus shaped Church.
A Glimpse into our Parish Beyond 50 Years
Since its first recorded baptism in 1906 at Sg. Belat by Fr. Vincent Gazeu, M.E.P., St. Thomas Catholic Church, Kuantan through her worship and outreach services from the visiting priests, has served as anchor and refuge to the spiritual and social needs of God’s people not only in Kuantan and the state of Pahang areas, but also along the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
Bishop Emile Marie Luc Alphonse Barillon, M.E.P.+, in an article published in MEP Bulletin in 1914, writes, “Among the Federated Malay States, that of Pahang is the largest, yet the most backward. However a railway line is being built which will link Singapore to Bangkok; it may help the development of that stage….”
A few years ago, Fr. Henry Duvelle, M.E.P., had built a small chapel at Sg. Belat. But that village was destroyed by a fire and most of the Catholics went away. So now that the chapel does not serve any purpose, at least for the moment. However, another chapel, dedicated to the Apostle St. Thomas, has just been built in the coastal town of Kuantan and was blessed on 24 February, 1913. There, we are sure to have something permanent….”
[N.B. This passage was taken from the MEP archives and provided through courtesy of Fr. Rene Nicholas, M.E.P., procurator of the Paris Missions Society (La Societe des Missions Etrangeres de Paris), Republic of Singapore.
A permanent wooden structure ‘Church’ was built in the early 1935 and Rev. Fr. Louis Guittat, M.E.P. was the first parish priest from 1950-56 & 1958-59. Fr. John Yap was the priest
in 1960-62 and followed by Fr. Leon Diffon, M.E.P for a year in 1963