Fostering Unity

Malaysian Catholic Clergy Assembly: DAY 2

The Process

Using the See, Judge, Act method, Archbishop Emeritus John Ha led the as- sembly into a one-day recol- lection based on the theme, May they all be one, just as, Father, You are in me and I am in You, so that the world may believe it was You who sent Me (John 17:21).

Using a video presentation, Arch- bishop Emeritus Ha shared his per- sonal readings on the situation of Malaysia: the Church in the Penin- sular, Sabah and Sarawak. The uni- ty from pre-Malaysia days has seen a gradual erosion primarily due to a political agenda to divide and rule over the last three or four decades, which was also felt in the Church.

He emphasised that the Church, as a community of Christ’s disci- ples, is called to be a beacon of uni- ty in Malaysia. In response to this call, this first Malaysian Catholic Clergy Assembly was convened in the belief and conviction that deep- er communion among the clergy will lead to a greater unity amidst our diversity among the dioceses in Malaysia.

In Christian practice, this must be carried out in the light of the Word of God. Archbishop Ha preached on Judge in the homily at Mass.

Mission and communion are one: communion is for mission and mission seeks communion. “This is the reason why Jesus prays to His Father to make His disciples ‘one in Us’. With this communion, they will be credible executors of the mission Jesus has entrusted to them.

In this way, they will effectively draw the world to faith in Jesus so that they too may have eternal life, ie they will be drawn into the oneness rooted in, and modelled on, the mutual in- dwelling between the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. With the guidance of the Holy Spirit and by His power, these first Disciples of Christ, the apos- tles, carried out the mission Christ entrusted to them.

The Acts of the Apostles, sometimes called the Gospel of the Holy Spirit, records the ministry and mission of the apostles under the guidance of the Advocate. Like Jesus, they also ap- pointed successors to continue this mission. By this “apostolic succes- sion”, the name of the Father con- tinues to be made known, and His word proclaimed, so that people of every age continue to be led into a relationship with Him through Jesus. The high-priestly prayer of Jesus sweeps across all genera- tions to reach us today and those to come after us until the end of time. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we have come to know the Father as the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent. We now inherit the mission Jesus entrusted to His dis- ciples and, if we allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit, the prayer that Jesus asked us to pray will be realised in our time.”

This took place in the after- noon. After time spent in applied reflection and personal prayer during the Adoration, the clergy then shared their experi- ences in groups and deliberated on the way forward to work to- gether for the Church in Malaysia.

The Teaching Moment : See, Judge, Act orientation of Lectio Divina
The Learning Experience : Group interaction Visit to parish communities

Pope John XXIII picked up Pope Pius XII’s expression the ‘signs of the times’ and used the phase to call the Church to renewal in its own life and in its involvement in the world by ‘reading the signs of the times’. A phrase that became popu- lar with the process of Vatican Council II.

In his writings he himself set about reading the hopeful and concerning signs of his time. In Mater et Magistra he affirms the process of See, Judge, Act as a way of reading and responding to the signs of the time.

“There are three stages which should normally be followed in the reduction of social prin- ciples into practice.

First, one reviews the concrete situation; secondly, one forms a judge- ment on it in the light of these same principles; thirdly, one decides what the circumstanc- es can and should be done to implement these principles. These are the three stages that are usually expressed in the three terms: observe, judge, act,” Pope John XXIII, Ma- ter et Magistra, 1961 (# 236). Source: http://socialjustice.

Today in Malaysia we use the See, Judge, Act method during our BEC gatherings.

Mater et Magistra
explores the role the Church in efforts to achieve social progress and justice in the world. Pope John XXIII calls for a greater awareness of the need for all peoples to live as one commu- nity with a common good.

Visit to Parish Communities: the Learning Moment
The first and second days of the assembly were a time for build- ing new friendship among the cler- gy and rekindling old ones among brother priests. Many who were classmates in the seminary years ago had the pleasure of strengthen- ing their bonds of friendship.

In addition, the clergy were brought to visit South Johor Vi- cariate parishes to experience and witness, first-hand, the reality of the Catholics from Sabah, Sarawak and Semenanjung living together in communion and mission.

They were welcomed by the pa- rishioners dressed in their tradition- al attire and treated to local food and drinks prepared by the various ethnic groups who were part of the parish community.

This reinforced the notion of unity in diversity which is a distinct character of the Malaysian Church.

The Bishops of Malacca Diocese

1. Bishop Antonio de Castro (Sep 3, 1738 – Aug 9, 1743)
2. Bishop Miguel de Bulhões e Souza, OP (Mar 28, 1746 – Feb 19, 1748)
3. Bishop Gerardo de São José, OP (Feb 19, 1748 – Jan 1760)
4. Bishop Alexandre da Sagrada Familia Ferreira da Silva, OFM Ref (Dec 16, 1782 – Feb 14 1785)
5. Bishop Francisco de São Damazo Abreu Vieira, OFM Obs (Oct 29, 1804 – Mar 15, 1815)

Vicariate of Malaya

Malacca Diocese ceases
By the Brief Multa Praeclare (Aug 24, 1838), Malacca Diocese lost its jurisdiction and the see of Malacca was transferred to the Vicariate Apostolic of Ava and Pegu (Burma). However, due to an acute shortage of missionaries, the whole Malay Peninsula was temporarily placed under the jurisdiction of the Vicar Apostolic of Siam in 1840. Then in 1841, the Vicariate of Malaya was established. The bishops were:

1. Bishop Jean-Paul-Hilaire-Michel Courvezy, MEP (Sep 10, 1841 – May 18, 1845)
2. Bishop Jean-Baptiste Boucho, MEP (Jun 3, 1845 – Mar 6, 1871)
3. Bishop Michel-Esther Le Turdu, MEP(Mar 6, 1871 – May 10, 1877)

Diocese of Malacca
AUG 10, 1888

The old See of Malacca was revived by Pope Leo XIII and raised from a Vicariate into a Diocese, as a suffragan to Pondicherry. Rt Rev Edouard Gasnier, the Apostolic Vicar from 1878, was appointed the first bishop. His residence was in Singapore as with the other bishops.

1. Bishop Edouard Gasnier, MEP (Apr 5, 1878 – Apr 8, 1896)
2. Bishop René-Michel-Marie Fée, MEP (Jul 21, 1896 – Jan 20, 1904)
3. Bishop Émile Marie Luc Alphonse Barillon, MEP  (May 10, 1904 – Jan 10, 1933)
4. Bishop Adrien-Pierre Devals, MEP (Nov 27, 1933 – Jan 17, 1945)
5. Bishop Michel Olçomendy, MEP (June 1, 1947 – Sept 19, 1953)


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

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