Malaysia's third oldest Catholic Church, the Assumption Church at Lebuh Farquhar, George Town, Penang is set to get a facelift via a RM2.5 million restoration project. Pix by Danial Saad

GEORGE TOWN: Malaysia's third oldest Catholic Church - the Assumption Church - is set to get a facelift via a RM2.5 million restoration project.

The 156-year-old church, which is located within the Unesco core zone here, is set to temporarily close its doors for 14 months beginning Sept 1.

It also houses one of Southeast Asia's oldest pipe organs which was assembled in Penang in 1916 and is Malaysia's largest church pipe organ.

The church was first built in 1860 and in 1928, underwent its first extension when two wings were added.

"The Assumption Church is already a monumental landmark in the George Town Heritage Site situated almost next door to many other notable buildings such as St George’s Church, the High Courts, the Logan Memorial, as well as Convent Light Street and St Xavier’s Institution.

"Our restoration efforts will enhance the historical value of our beautiful city of George Town," Assumption Church Restoration Committee chairman Reverend Gerard Theraviam told a press conference today.

Present were the Titular Roman Catholic Bishop of Penang Right Reverend Sebastian Francis and the project's fund raising committee chairman John Lau.

Bishop Sebastian said of the estimated RM2.5 mil costs for the restoration job, the church will contribute RM500,000 with the balance raised from fund-raising activities.

"I appeal to all Catholics as well as the public for your generosity to contribute by way of donations to this prestigious project," he said.

"The restored church will not only provide a conducive environment to the faithful to partake in the church services, but also enable tourists and pilgrims to enjoy and experience praying in the new environment of the restored church."

Lau said the committee would also welcome contributions from corporations, foundations and high net individuals.

The scope of work, Reverand Theraviam said, “will include replacement of the existing glass louvres windows with timber shutter windows as used in 1928.

"Extensive repair works will be carried out inside and outside. In addition, various new amenities will be installed or upgraded to enhance comfort and aesthetics such as the introduction of a new air-conditioning system, new sound system, new projectors, concealed rewiring works and internal and external lighting.

"The existing sanctuary will also be upgraded to enhance its heritage value and external landscaping works will also be carried out," he added.