Volunteers helping to sort the recyclable items

By Karen Ann Theseira

Mar 19 2024

BUKIT MERTAJAM, Penang — Basilica of St Anne is poised to celebrate a significant milestone in 2025 as its recycling programme reaches its 25th anniversary. The programme, a cornerstone of the parish’s commitment to environmental stewardship, has become a model of sustainability and community engagement.

Vincent Yong, head of the parish Creation Justice Ministry (CJM), outlined the standard operating procedures of the recycling programme. He explained that each year, groups and ministries within the parish are invited, via the bulletin to take on the monthly recycling duty. Upon acceptance, they are assigned a specific month for their recycling responsibilities. At the end of each month, a designated contractor collects recyclables and issues receipts, which are meticulously recorded by the administration office. The funds generated from recycling activities are deposited into the church’s account, and expenses are approved by the head of administration.

In January 2024, CJM received RM1,500 from the recycling proceeds, enhancing their ability to support ministry activities. Other groups, such as the Tamil Women’s League and St Anne Seniors, have also benefited from the programme, using the funds for community celebrations and welfare initiatives.

The origins of the recycling programme trace back to a newspaper article that inspired parishioner Donat Anthony Theseira and his wife, Mylene, to initiate a collection drive in their neighbourhood of Taman Bukit Indah in 1996. The recipient of the first collection was Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital in Penang. The success of their efforts led to the establishment of a similar programme at St Anne’s in 2000, approved by then-parish priest Fr Michael Cheah, with the dual aims of waste reduction and fundraising.

After a successful run, the recycling programme in Taman Bukit Indah held its final collection on Jun 30, 2016. Over two decades, the initiative amassed a total of RM99,768.60, preventing 368.82 tonnes of valuable resources from reaching landfills. All proceeds were allocated to various charitable organisations, including the Penang Caring Dialysis Centre, Persatuan Kebajikan Kanak-Kanak Cacat Yee Ran Jing Sheh, and Little Sisters of the Poor.

Over the years, the programme has evolved, with dedicated volunteers like Joseph Lim, chairman of St Anne Seniors, overseeing sorting efforts and ensuring that recyclables are properly processed. The involvement of youth groups, led by Deacon Dave Kameron and his wife Marianne, underscores the parish’s commitment to instilling environmental consciousness in future generations.

In collaboration with CJM, the St Anne Recycling Management Committee meets annually to plan the recycling schedule and educate parishioners on best practices. Together, they exemplify the parish’s dedication to environmental sustainability and community welfare.

As the parish commemorates 25 years of recycling, Vincent Yong encourages others to emulate their success, emphasising the spiritual significance of caring for creation. For more information on starting a recycling programme in your parish, contact Vincent Yong at cjmstanne@gmail.com. – Herald Malaysia