Over 1,000 attend IHM’s Christmas Fiesta

by Alison Snodgrass |  Edited on January 15, 2024

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“Have you ever received a message or encountered an event that left you feeling shocked, worried, confused or even angry? What if such a message or event could actually bring about love, hope, peace and joy?”

Those were the words of hope extended to all who were present at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary’s (IHM) Christmas production, “When Love Came Down”. It was held on Dec 29th & 30th as part of the church’s 2023 Christmas Fiesta. Over one thousand people attended the performance, which also marked the end of IHM’s 70th anniversary celebrations and wove the story of the Christmas Nativity and its relevance to the struggles and experiences of daily modern life into a captivating tapestry of masterful acting, beautiful solos and original musical compositions. Children in the audience were especially thrilled by the special effects of ‘snowflakes’ falling from the sky as well as the audience participation, where they were invited to draw pictures of baby Jesus to place on the crib in the manger on stage.

The event was the culmination of six months of dedicated effort by a committed team of IHM parishioners from all walks of life. Twenty cast members and 71 crew, including front-of-house representatives and musicians, poured their hearts out to make the production a resounding success. It saw them often ‘camping out in the church’. In the words of production director Ambrose Chua, who first pitched the concept to the IHM Parish Pastoral Council and led the organising committee: “It all started as a dream”. Playwright and director, Ms Geraldine Wee, shared that working on the production “reminded (her) of how our gifts are used for His glory”. Mr James Tan, who starred as St Joseph, described his involvement as a “fantastic journey in encountering the Lord with the family”, while another cast member, Mr Oscar de Silva, mused that “as much as Christmas is about Jesus’ birth, it is also about Mary’s and Joseph’s struggles in the face of immense challenges”.

Fr Paul Ngo, parish priest of IHM Church, said that he was “delighted to witness the dedication of parishioners across generations who (had) made this production possible. Beyond a community celebration, it’s a poignant reminder of the love and hope encapsulated in Christmas”.

The shepherds arrive at the nativity sceneIHM parishioners and their families, friends and neighbours, both Catholic and non-Catholic, thoroughly enjoyed the performance, exclaimed that it was “very well done and inspiring!”, and felt that it “truly brought home the experience of ‘Love Came Down’”. Some praised the artistic and musical talent evident throughout the production, saying that it was “wonderfully choreographed and presented” and that “the soloists were great… such pure voices”. The occasion was graced by His Excellency Archbishop Marek Zelevski, Archbishop Nuncio to Singapore, as well as former nominated member of Parliament Ms Janet Ang and the advisor for Aljunied GRC grassroots organisations and Serangoon PAP Branch Choir Ms Chan Hui Yuh as well as members of Serangoon Grassroots leaders and representatives of the various religious organisations in the Serangoon Harmony Circle.

In addition to the performance, the fiesta encompassed a sharing of the Catholic faith, an evangelistic invitation to “come and see”. Brochures welcoming guests to IHM explained the significance of the elements found in all Catholic churches throughout the world such as the sanctuary, as well as information on what Christianity is and its impact on world history. Several booths set up by various church ministries, including Landings (an international organisation created to welcome Catholics returning to the Church), Epiphany (which runs the Alpha course for those seeking to find out more about the Catholic faith) and Rite of Christian initiation for Adults (R.C.I.A.) and Youth (R.C.I.Y.), engaged guests in warm and friendly conversation amidst the camaraderie of food and fellowship.

The words on the back of the programme booklet said it best: “Christmas is not so much about us visiting baby Jesus. Rather, it is about Jesus visiting us and entering the clutter of our lives to bring us love, hope, peace and joy”.

The unexpected invitation from the Father to an unworthy servant

By Sonia

God must have known that I’d say no to acting but yes to my children who were very insistent about joining the Christmas Fiesta Production. Unlike our Blessed Mother at the Annunciation, I was so reluctant yet God is very patient. As weeks went by, I was unknowingly led through the gift of friendships, His Word and my sentimental weakness for music. There was much laughter but also tears as we shared our lives and discovered through one another, the nearness of our Lord. Preparing for our respective characters, each of us realised that we were assigned not because we were worthy – On the contrary, it was simply a personal invitation to enter into an inward journey with Him. It still baffles me that so many of us had that common experience. Repeatedly, we asked ourselves, “how can this be”. Love has truly come down to be with us in our brokenness. He came down to show us that the coldness of darker days can coexist with the warmth of hope and quiet joy. Our Blessed Mother stands with us as “the angel departed”, reminding us to hang on and ponder while we await for Him to unveil greater beauty of the cross. The next time a door appears ajar, I’d be reminded not to be too quick to say no, but to consider why not. He does not expect us to be perfect, just simply to be open and come as we are. Just so that He can reveal the infinite depth of His love for you and me. I wonder what you and I will discover next?

Highlights of the play

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