Category Archives: Sept 2018

Kajang parish organises celebration for Migrant Sunday

KAJANG: The Church of the Holy Family, Kajang (HFK) celebrated Migrant Sunday on Sept 23 during the 9.00am Mass. The Eucharistic Celebration gathered people from many different countries, with different languages and customs. There were representatives from Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Nigeria.

The Migrant Ministry, under the umbrella of the Parish Integral Human Development (PIHD) Ministry, organised the event. A banner of the 104th World Day of Migrants and Refugees with the theme was displayed at the church entrance together with posters and flyers with a summary of the Pope’s message. The migrants and refugees, who were dressed in their respective national costumes, animated the Mass. The hymns at Mass were a rich blend of traditional sounds, with the offertory hymn being sung in the Indonesian language.

After Mass, there was a free Mobile Clinic and Medical Screening at the Church hall for the migrants and refugees, arranged with the help of Mr Kong Min Ho of St John’s Ambulance Kajang.
He came with a team of 40 volunteers including Datuk Nelson Tan, five doctors, nurses, dispensers and helpers.

About 120 migrants and refugees — adults and children — were registered for the medical screening.

The Migrant Ministry would like to extend our sincere thanks to our parish priest, Fr Andrew Kooi; the St John’s Ambulance Doctors and volunteers for the Mobile Clinic, the PIHD for their assistance in financing the event; the Liturgical team; AOHD for the Migrant Sunday Materials; and the Migrant Ministry core team members for their support and contributions towards the fundraising project, fellowship and organising the whole event.


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

CFC – HOLD’s 9th Echo Women’s Conference

KOTA KINABALU: The Couples for Christ (CFC) – Handmaids of the Lord (HOLD) organized the 9th HOLD echo Women’s Conference at Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish Centre on 16 September 2018.

An echo conference is a yearly initiative organized by the local CFC HOLD members who had attended the HOLD Icons (International Conferences) in the Philippines. The main objective is to share the same inputs they received in the conference, adapting it to the local context, making it beneficial to all the CFC Sabah Chapter who could not make it to the Icon. The CFC-HOLD have been organizing this echo conference since 2010, inviting participation not only among the members of CFC Sabah Chapter but also extending the invitation to other women in the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu.

The conference room was packed with more than 200 participants mostly from CFC-Hold members and CFC support groups and other interested individuals. It started with the recitation of the rosary at 7:00am, followed by Eucharistic celebration presided by Fr. Paul Loh, the CFC Spiritual advisor. The conference proper started at 9:30am, intertwining all the talks with life testimonies given by some selected HOLD members as well as creative presentations making the message more appealing and easily understood.

The theme for this year, on Fiery Wings, aimed to create enthusiasm to discover, through the talks, what it really means. The Conference was divided into five sessions, each facilitated by a different speaker.  Interestingly, all the speakers quoted from the second letter of St. Paul to Timothy to support their points.

The first session, entitled The Gift, was presented by Rosa Java. She highlighted the precious gift of the Holy Spirit given to each baptized Catholic during baptism and confirmation. She challenged the participants to reflect on whether the gift and the power of the Holy Spirit is being put to good use in their lives and ministries. Unfamiliarity with the gift of the Spirit, ignorant of His power to change and transform individuals to the image and likeness of God, selfishness, keeping the gift to oneself, failing to use the gift for the common good, and inconsistency in their spiritual growth are some of the reasons why the power of the Holy Spirit is not unleashed in the lives of Christians. In 2 Tim 1:6, which the speaker quoted, Paul exhorted the young Timothy to rekindle the “gift that is within.” This is also the call for all, rekindling the gift and keeping it aflame will allow the Lord to accomplish His work and purpose that He has entrusted to each one.

The second session on The Solemn Charge was presented by Karen Sigawal. In 2 Tim 4:1-2a, Paul gave Timothy the solemn charge, an obligation, to proclaim the Word and made it clear that it was a responsibility to be taken seriously. Likewise, the speaker in her talk reminded the participants about the challenge as women and how they should respond to this solemn charge. She quoted Pope Paul VI who said there is much urgency for women to be proclaimers of the Gospel in every situation and circumstances, in the various roles they play in society: as students, teachers, mothers, healers and leaders. In fulfilling the solemn charge the speaker exhorted the participants to imitate the five wise virgins who always had their oil lamps filled and lit, always ready to seize every opportunity to answer the call for mission.

In the third session Wendy Chin talked about the Daunting Task of being proclaimers of the Word and the undaunted Spirit each one must possess in order to be able to pursue the mission. In 2 Tim 4:2b, Paul gave Timothy a solemn charge to proclaim the Word and fulfil his obligation to be persistent, whether it is convenient or inconvenient, to convince, reprimand and encourage all through practice and teaching. She said that the work of an evangelizer is never easy. It requires passion, dedication, total commitment to make Jesus Christ and His gift of salvation known and embraced. A challenging mission indeed that makes one shrink in fear and trembling with anxiety at times, but there is nothing to be afraid of because the Holy Spirit will enabled us to do the impossible.

In the fourth session, The Time Has Come, the presenter Maribel Oferina Chu also based her talk on the second letter of Paul to Timothy 4: 3-5, where St. Paul warned Timothy of the challenges that he could face in proclaiming the Good News.  The speaker exhorted the members to do reality check on the various challenges that the present day evangelizers are facing too.  “People will not tolerate sound doctrine …”, the speaker mentioned how many people have transgressed the 10 commandments, how modernization has allowed for same sex attraction or union, propagation of the LGBT lifestyle, in vitro fertilization, immodesty in dressing and in conduct. In all these challenges, St. Paul reminds us that in order to surmount the modern day challenges, it is important to invoke the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen us to be self-possessed under all circumstances, to put up with hardship and enable us to perform the work of evangelists.

In the last session, Anne Labadin presented the topic on Fiery Wings. She described in detail who the Holy Spirit is: the giver of life, the Spirit of Love, the Spirit of Truth, the Spirit of Unity, the Witness, the Paraclate and how the third Person of the Trinity has powerfully changed Christian lives.  Anne pointed out the many instances in Scripture where the Holy Spirit manifested His presence, His glory and his power through fire. She said, “We have been baptized with the same fire of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 3:11) However, because of personal problems, problems in community, unfaithfulness to God, or becoming victims of lies, gossip and the like, the fiery presence of the Holy Spirit has been quenched, diminishing the ardour of faith. In order not to lose the gift of the Holy Spirit in oneself, the speaker reminded the participants of the duties they need to do: Immersing oneself in prayer, meditation on God’s Word, attending the Sacraments, the Eucharist, Confession, devotion to Mother Mary and the saints, faithfulness in attending household teaching, and following the example of St. Paul in bearing the marks of Jesus on his body (cf. Gal 6:17). We are also reminded to help others to rekindle the fire of the Holy Spirit by reaching out to them through prayer and encouragement and accompanying them in what they are going through.

The conference ended at 5:00pm with a Praise Fest, making the participants leaving the conference hall spirit filled with uplifting messages from the sessions, ready to soar high with the fiery wings of the Holy Spirit to carry out their mission.


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

Malaysian Catechetical Commission Meeting 2018

There were many catechetical issues discussed in the recent Malaysian Catechetical Commission (MCC) Meeting held at the Catholic Diocesan Centre in Sibu, Sarawak from Monday 27th August to Thursday 30th August 2018.

Fr Alvin Ho SJ, Chairman of MCC led the meeting.  Twenty delegates from all arch/dioceses including the delegates from Brunei Vicariate attended this meeting. There were 10 priests including Most Revd Julian Leow, Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese and Rt Revd Datuk Cornelius Piong, Bishop of Keningau Diocese, and 10 Religious Sisters and lay leaders. The Diocese of Melaka-Johor apologized for not being able to send any delegates to this year’s meeting.

The Catechetical Commission plays a very crucial role in the church as it is the pulse and the very life of the church. One of the many activities of the Catechetical Ministry is to prepare our young Catholics for the reception of the Sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist, Confession, Confirmation and also spiritually prepare our children and teenagers to meet the challenges of the world. Without the dedication of the catechists in teaching and sharing the Catholic Faith, these students would not be well prepared and become strong in their faith. Therefore it is crucial that  formation of catechists to enable them to properly care for their students be given priority.

The meeting discussed numerous topics related to the Catechetical Ministry at the arch/diocesan level as well as at the national level:

— The topic on formation and training for all those involved in catechesis especially for catechists to deliver effective lessons is one of the many topics that were discussed which included formation and training for catechists and/or facilitators of Christian Adult Initiation (CIA) team, Joyful Weekend Gathering (JWG) / Religious Education (RE) Classes, conducting Communion Service in the absence of priests, and becoming sponsors/godparents of candidates for the reception of sacraments. We also discussed how On-line Courses could help to update the Catechists.

— Materials and catechetical books for JWG / RE need to be updated and improved by preparing supplementary materials to replace the existing ones. The meeting also discussed the necessity to have sufficient resources for the Rites of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) to respond to the needs of the candidates in all the arch/dioceses. We also had a discussion on Rites of RCIA.

— The theme for 2019 Catechetical Sunday is “Christ, Our Mission” (Phil 1:21). A reflection paper for this theme would be prepared by Most Revd Julian Leow; together with this reflection paper, various suggestions of activities for this celebration would be distributed to each arch/diocese by November 2018. The theme chosen is in line with the Church’s focus on Mission and Evangelisation.

— There was also a discussion on the management of the National Catechetical Office (NCO) in Kuala Lumpur. At this interim period, Dr Stephen Selvaraju was entrusted with monitoring the staff employed by Malaysia Catechetical Commission (MCC) for NCO.

— All the eight arch/dioceses and the Vicariate of Brunei reported on their catechetical events, activities, programmes and plans.

— At the end of the four-day meeting, the members elected a team of office bearers for the term 2019-2021. The result of this election is as follows:

Chairman                    :           Fr Nicholas Stephen (Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese)

Vice Chairman           :           Fr Mark Michael (Penang Diocese)

Secretary                     :           Mr Frederick Empanga (Miri Diocese)

Vice Secretary             :           Ms Stephanie Ng (Kuching Archdiocese)

The outgoing Episcopal President of the Malaysia Catechetical Commission, Rt Revd Datuk Cornelius Piong of Keningau Diocese, thanked all the MCC members for their tireless service, cooperation and friendship built throughout the term, led by Fr Alvin Ho SJ. His Lordship also heartily welcomed the incoming Episcopal President, Most Revd Julian Leow and hoped that the usual close cooperation amongst the newly elected office bearers would continue. His Lordship also congratulated the newly elected office bearers and encouraged them to serve with joy.

The outgoing MCC chairman, Fr Alvin Ho SJ, thanked all the MCC members for their cooperation given to him during his tenure as the chairman and he congratulated the newly elected office bearers.

The newly elected chairman, Fr Nicholas Stephen expressed his gratitude for the trust given to him by all the MCC members to chair the Commission for the next three years; he hoped that with cooperation of all the MCC members, together they could implement all that would be planned.

Most Revd Julian Leow, the incoming Episcopal President, thanked the outgoing office bearers for their tireless service. His Grace emphasized on the importance of catechetical ministry in a world where faithful, especially the younger generations, are being challenged by the worldly standard and secularism. Many young people who migrated to the West Malaysia compromised their Catholic Faith due to the shallowness of their faith.

Therefore, the archbishop said that there was a dire need to have ongoing continuous catechetical formation and training for catechists. His Grace emphasized that parents have to live up to their responsibility and to play their role effectively as the first catechists of their children, instead of fully relying on the catechists in the weekly Religious Education Classes. There was also a need to publish spiritual books and share the resources on-line for the catechists and parents to refer to.

The archbishop also acknowledged and appreciated the RE catechists for their time and energy. His Grace also encouraged all the catechists to continue with the good work and to engage in catechesis more creatively and effectively.

His Grace thanked all the delegates for their active participation in the meeting. The next MCC Meeting will be on 5th to 8th August 2019, and will be hosted by the Diocese of Penang.


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

Pioneer Church and missionaries laid a solid foundation

KUCHING: The “pioneering spirit” of the Church and early missionaries contributed to Sarawak’s social and human development, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah.

He said the missionaries had ventured into the jungles of Borneo to help the rural population by setting up schools for education and small clinics for health-care.

“I am one of the beneficiaries of such a school. If it had not been set up, I might not be standing here today,” he said when opening the International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Medico-Social Assistants’ (CICIAMS) 20th congress on Sept 5.

He added that the clinics set up by the missionaries, which were staffed by sisters and laypersons trained as nurses and midwives, became the backbone and foundation of government medical clinics as the state developed.

“The state government acknowledges this contribution and thus gives our support for this international congress to be hosted in Kuching,” he said.

The four-day congress is being held for the first time here with over 200 participants from Malaysia and 18 other countries.

On the congress, Uggah said its focus on issues affecting children, youth and the elderly would provide tools for education, sustaining life and promoting human development through the nursing and healthcare profession.

“I hope the findings of the congress can be shared with us as we move towards sustainable development for Sarawak,” he said.


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

Unifor reflects Sarawak Govt’s policy of inclusivity

KUCHING: Sarawak’s Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) is the only formal government agency in Malaysia to look after the needs of non-Muslims, reflecting Sarawak’s priorities regarding inclusion and diversity.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said Sarawak is a model for the country, where those of different religious beliefs can live peacefully.

“A high degree of religious tolerance, acceptance and mutual respect amongst the people of different religious beliefs prevail in Sarawak,” he said at the 20th International Catholic Committee of Nurses and Medico-Social Assistants (CICIAMS) World Congress on Sept 5.

“These harmonious surroundings and freedom have been strongly endorsed by the state leaders, including our Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, who practises a policy of inclusivity.”

He said Unifor looks after the affairs of non-Islamic religious bodies in Sarawak including Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, Bahai’s and Taoists.

“It is directly under my portfolio. The state government has committed a yearly financial allocation to Unifor for the construction and repair of houses of worship and other infrastructure facilities for the non-Islamic religious bodies,” he said.

He added the Sarawak government has also committed RM40,000 to fund the congress.

Themed Education for Sustainable Health: Engaging Development, Respecting Life, the congress seeks to focus on issues affecting children, youth and the elderly.

“I am confident that this congress will provide the vision and the tools for us to educate, sustain life and promote all that will enable each person to be fully human, living our life with meaning and purpose,” said Uggah.

He also expressed his appreciation for the pioneering spirit of the Church and early missionaries, who ventured into the jungles of Borneo to set up schools and especially clinics, staffed by religious Sisters and lay faithful who were trained as nurses and midwives.

“These became the backbone and foundation of the government medical clinics and hospitals we developed. The Sarawak government acknowledges this great contribution and thus gives our support for this congress to be hosted in Kuching,” he added.

“I hope you will be empowered by the congress and be promoters of integral human development through the nursing and healthcare profession. Carry on the mission of holistic healthcare and sustainable development in your own respective nations.”

The three-day congress, which started on Sept 4, involved some 200 participants from 19 countries.

Among those present were Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson; Apostolic Nuncio (Vatican Ambassador) to Malaysia, the Archbishpo Joseph Salvador Marino; and Archbishop of Kuching, the Most Rev Simon Poh.


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

Archbishop Emeritus Peter Chung celebrates his 90th birthday

KUCHING: The Archdiocese of Kuching rejoiced as her first Archbishop, Most Rev Peter Chung, celebrated his 90th birthday with a solemn Thanksgiving Mass on the evening of Sep 10, 2018.

More than 2,000 parishioners thronged St Joseph’s Cathedral to thank the Lord for the gift of their shepherd, pastor and friend.

The Mass, which Archbishop Emeritus Chung presided, was concelebrated with 10 archbishops and bishops and priests from all over Malaysia. Also present were his relatives from China.

Archbishop Emeritus Peter Chung has done a lot for the local Church in Kuching and Malaysia respectively. What matters most for the Archbishop Emeritus is the Church.

In all that Archbishop Emeritus has done as a priest, bishop and archbishop, and is still doing now as a retired archbishop, he wants to build the community up and make room for everyone in the community to play a role. This is clearly seen in the setting up of St Peter’s College by the Archbishop Emeritus to build up the local clergy and his effort to get the lay people involved in the life of the Church.

Archbishop Emeritus Peter Chung was ordained as Coadjutor Bishop of Kota Kinabalu on Nov 15, 1970. He was appointed as Apostolic Vicar of Kota Kinabalu on Aug 1, 1972, and installed as first the Archbishop of Kuching on Nov 26, 1976. He retired in 2003 due to old age.

Archbishop Emeritus in his thanksgiving note pledged his obedience and allegiance to the Church authority. He also affirmed his continuing service to the Church for as long as God allows.

A thankgiving dinner was held on Sept 9 at Thian Court Restaurant, Crown Square Kuching.

A tribute to Archbishop Emeritus Peter Chung
I take this opportunity to express our gratitude to you, especially for your ministry to the Catholic Church in both Sabah and Sarawak. You first served as the Vicar Apostolic of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah after your episcopal ordination in 1970. On 31st May 1976, you were then appointed as the first Archbishop of Kuching. Today, Sept 10, it is fitting that the bishops and priests of East Malaysia are here to celebrate your 90th Birthday.

In the 1980s, as altar servers, we remembered chatting with you in the Cathedral sacristy. You were also promoting priestly vocation. I still remembered a session during our YCS Formation Camp in St Lukas’ Centre at Mile 10. I was seated at the back of the Hall and you were inviting us to consider vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

Although I did not have any intention at that time, you had sown the seeds of vocation. In a way, the Lord wrote in crooked straight line. Thus in January 1982, when I entered the Preparatory Year in St Peter’s College, Kuching, you were there to welcome me when I rang seminary bell. I thank you for making me feel at home right at the start of my seminary journey. You have also played an important part in my priestly ordination in July 1988 and recently my episcopal consecration in September 2015.

From your sharing, we have come to realise the struggle and hardships you had encountered when you left China and landed in Sarawak. You had to learn English from scratch. In the 1990s, you even studied Bahasa Malaysia in order to minister to the Catholics in the rural villages. You gave your heart and life to fully serve the Archdiocese and the Church in Malaysia until 2003, when you were succeeded by Archbishop John Ha. I saw your great humility of heart as you accord him your full support. You have deeply impressed upon me by your sincere love for the Church and obedience to our Holy Father.

As the Metropolitan Archbishop of Kuching from 1976-2003, the Lord had used your zeal, commitment and dedication to build up Kuching Archdiocese. In 1980, you boldly established St Peter’s College as the Archdiocesan Seminary for formation of local clergy. You were even committed to teach in those early days of the seminary. Today, your vision has borne fruits by providing priests and bishops for the whole of Malaysia. Your commitment towards the empowerment of lay leaders, catechists, formation of Parish Councils and the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council has led to a church that has well-formed lay leaders who now work in collaboration with the clergy.

We are indeed indebted to you for setting the foundation of the local Church after taking over from the Mill Hill bishops in 1976. The task then was indeed daunting but you never lost focus. Today we are all here to celebrate with you the numerous works that the Lord has accomplished through you and is continuing to do so. — By Archbishop Simon Poh, Archbishop of Kuching

Important milestones in Archbishop’s life
Arcbbishop Emeritus Peter Chung was born on Sept 10, 1928 in Yunxi, Hubei Province in China.

At the age of 12, he joined the Junior Seminary of the Vicarite in Lauhekou and seven years later, joined the Regional Seminary in Hankow and Macao.

He completed his studies in 1954 and was sent to serve the Chinese Apostolate in Bau, Sarikei and Sibu in Sarawak.

On Sept 26, 1954, he was the first priest to be ordained in Sarawak.

In October 1963, he left for Rome for further studies.

Once he returned, he was appointed Rector of St Joseph’s Seminary, Miri in 1966.

On Nov 15, 1970, he was ordained Bishop Coadjutor of Kota Kinabalu and in August 1972, he was appointed Apostolic Vicar of Kota Kinabalu.

In Feb 1975, he was officially transferred to Kuching and on Mar 14, 1975, he was installed as the Apostolic Vicar of Kuching.

On Nov 26, 1976 he was installed as the first Archbishop of Kuching at St Joseph’s Cathedral.

He was instrumental in setting the foundation of the local Church after taking over from the Mill Hill bishops in 1976.

He issued his first pastoral letter, “Our Task and Responsibility,” in which he set the direction for the faithful in various areas of life

He took the role of the laity in the Church seriously and instructed parish councils to be formed throughout the Archdiocese. The First Parish Council Convention was held on Nov 10, 1979.

He was the driving force for a seminary in the Archdicoese and St Peter’s College was opened on July 21, 1986.

He was even committed to teach in those early days of the Seminary. and today, his vision has borne fruits, providing priests and bishops for the whole of Malaysia.

He saw the importance of dividing the territorially large Archdiocese into two dioceses in order to promote faster growth of the local Church here.

To this end, the Diocese of Sibu was carved out of the Archdiocese on Dec 22, 1986.

He was awarded the title Datuk on July 7, 1987 by the Chief Minister of Sarawak.

He issued his last pastoral letter, “We are the Church — Salt of the Earth and Light of the World” on Oct 19, 2002 and on June 22, 2003 he retired as the Archbishop of Kuching.

His commitment towards the empowerment of lay leaders, catechists, formation of Parish Councils and the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council has led to a Church that has well-formed lay leaders who now work in collaboration with the clergy.

Formation of the laity was an essential part of his pastoral endeavours to enable and empower them to serve as leaders.

The local Sisters also drew his attention and resource persons were invited to give formation to them.

A retired Archbishop has plenty to do
“Friends are admiring my age and health, and asking me the secret to live to such an age in good health. I usually answer them frankly: “I have never paid attention to my health and age. My daily diet is simple and my physical exercise consists in short but frequent walks around the house. My daily routine includes much time at my desk and computer (not for searching for useless entertainment), reading good books, receiving people coming to visit me.

“In my years of retirement, I have not taken even a short leave away from Kuching. I have kept a disciplined life in my daily routine for prayer, for work (some people call me workaholic!) for meals, for walks and for a cold shower immediately after I rise in the early morning.

“Nowadays, people seem to like coming to see me for all kinds of reasons. I have always kept my door open, except at night, to receive people, most of whom do not let me know before they come. They come for some spiritual help, for counselling or seeking advice, or to talk about their family problems. I have always shown them my welcome.

“During the last six years, I have given religious instructions to people (mostly of senior age or professionals, like lawyers, doctors), and prepared them for the sacraments of initiation.

“Usually, I spend five to six months for such instruction. Besides all these, I have spontaneously offered my priestly service to help in parish churches every Sunday. I am very happy I can continue to exercise my priestly ministry for the local Church.

“This is basically how I have spent my retirement in the past fifteen years.

“Looking back on my 16 years in the priestly ministry (5 years in Sabah) and 27 years in Kuching in the episcopal ministry, I gratefully acknowledge the great blessings the Lord has showered upon me and upon others through my priestly and episcopal ministries. As I had little time to pay attention to myself in those active years, the Lord is so graciously granting me years of retirement so that I can give him and also myself more time as, I should.

“The words of the Apostle Paul, “The love of Christ urges us” (2 Corinthians 5:14) have much encouraged me to persevere in my long ministries as priest and bishop to serve the Lord and his people in the local Church. These holy words likely have been “the secret” that have kept me in good health and long life.

“I thank God for having given me, up to now, fifteen years of retirement. I must acknowledge this retirement is a privileged time the Lord has granted me to take good care of myself, not so much of my body as of my soul. I am really happy and thank God and also thank the Archbishop for arranging for me to live in the retirement home with good accommodation, good care, good environment and good everything.

“One thing I wish to put down here. I hope I will be remembered by our beloved priests in the Mass and by our beloved people in their prayers after my death. So that through their generous and prayerful remembrance, I will not remain for long time in purgatory.”


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

In Memoriam: A golden voice has gone silent

Former parishioners and those who have had the privilege of attending the Masses he celebrated would certainly remember how the late Fr Mari Arokiam would unexpectedly burst into song in the middle of his homily. Blessed with a beautiful singing voice, he unabashedly gave back to the Lord this wonderful gift by praising the goodness of the Lord in song.

Another unforgettable ‘trait’ of his during his homilies was to call out the name of a parishioner he knew so as to evoke a response from the unsuspecting individual and from the congregation at large. “Praise the Lord”, “Can I get an Amen?”, “Are you with me?” and other similar catch-phrases were not uncommon during his lively and thought-provoking homilies which would conclude with “God bless you. Mother Mary loves you”, signifying his deep devotion to our Blessed Mother.

A medical impediment to his leg, which resulted in his using a cane or, sometimes, a wheelchair and having to be seated when celebrating Mass for the past three years or so, did not in any way deter him from celebrating the Eucharist, which always remained his first love as a priest. So it certainly came as a shock to many when the otherwise robust and lively priest passed away unexpectedly on September 15, 2018 at the age of 60.

Many retorted with a “I just spoke to him/ saw him yesterday” and the disbelief was even more so when the parish community of the Church of the Assumption had just celebrated the 26th anniversary of his priestly ordination a week earlier on September 8.

Often, when encouraging young men to consider the vocation to the priesthood, Fr Mari would tell his own story where, with only a secondary education and work experience as an assistant in a ‘teh-tarik’ stall, as a caddy, and as an office boy in two different schools, he was still able to respond generously to God.

A dapper dresser, often seen in a hat and neatly tucked-in shirt/t-shirt, Fr Mari once mentioned that he owed his fashion sense to the late Fr Joe Pereira who had taken this ‘kampung-boy from Kg Pandan,’ as he unabashedly referred to himself, under his wing and brought a little ‘Western’ culture into his life. Ever the epitome of humility, he was never shy to talk about his background and instead became an inspiration to many young people, expressing that with passion and determination, anyone could be a ‘success story.’

Always a compassionate listener, Fr Mari became a father figure to many — both young and old. His often no-nonsense attitude which sometimes came across as being brusque was his way of showing ‘tough love’ to those who actually needed advice or counselling in such a form.

A son of the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Health, Kg Pandan, Kuala Lumpur, Fr Mari had his early education at La Salle Peel Road and SM Datok Lokman, Kg Pandan before venturing into the working world. After some initial hesitations, Fr Mari joined the seminary at the age of 24. He was ordained a deacon at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Mentakab in March 1992 and a priest at his home parish that same year on September 8, on the Feast of Our Lady of Good Health and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. His chosen theme was My Soul Glorifies the Lord, the first line of the Magnificat.

Following his ordination, his first posting was to the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Mentakab as Assistant Parish Priest. In 1995, he was sent to the Church of St Joseph, Sentul where he assisted the late Fr Edward Soosay for two years.

In 1998 he became the Parish Priest of the Church of St Anthony, Pudu. Five years later he took a break from parish ministry to pursue his studies at the East Asia Pastoral Institute in the Philippines where he obtained his Master’s Degree in Pastoral Studies.

Upon his return in 2006, he was sent to Negeri district where he assumed the post of Parish Priest of the Church of St John Vianney, Tampin and Administrator of the Chapels of Mary Mother of God in Bahau, St Joseph in Kuala Pilah and St Christopher in Gemas. Thereafter, he served as Parish Priest of the Church of Holy Redeemer in Klang from 2012 to 2014.

The following year, a leg infection caused Fr Mari to take yet another break for six months while he underwent treatment. He was subsequently sent to the Church of the Assumption in Petaling Jaya where he served as Assistant Parish Priest until his demise.

Fr Mari once said, “One day when I am gone, I want to be remembered as a faithful priest who had compassion.” Indeed, this was evident by the outpouring of grief that flooded Social Media in the short span when news of his demise was first announced and from the huge crowd that came to bid farewell at his funeral on September 18 at the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Health, Kg Pandan.

The late Fr Mari leaves behind two brothers, three sisters, 28 nephews and nieces and a host of relatives and friends to mourn his loss. He is pre-deceased by his parents, three brothers and a sister.


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

Orang Asli “Merdeka” gathering at Pos Kemar

For the first time ever, a festival to celebrate the country’s “Merdeka Day” was organised to bring together Orang Asli from various villages in Perak. This was the desire of the new Perak state government and support was provided by various groups including the Perak Deanery Orang Asli Apostolate’s Sahabat Orang Asli (SOA) team. The gathering was held at Pos Kemar, Gerik, comprising 15 registered Orang Asli villages with a population size of approximately 4,500 people.

Other than the Orang Asli of Pos Kemar, the three-day-two-night event was attended by other groups of Orang Asli from different areas of Perak such as Tapah/Cameron Highlands, Simpang Pulai and Kampar. SOA was involved in organising logistics, transport and accommodation for the visiting Orang Asli. The Pos Kemar villagers enjoyed several economic benefits from providing boat transportation, hosting homestays and preparing all the meals for the gathering.

External sponsors also helped to defray some of the costs.

Prior to the gathering, SOA had helped to sponsor the construction of a new community hall and two eco-tourism chalets at this village. The hall and chalets were fully utilised for this event.

A highlight of the gathering was the surprise visit of Perak’s newly minted Menteri Besar, YAB Tuan Ahmad Faizal bin Dato’ Azumu. The humble and youthful Menteri Besar impressed the Orang Asli with his down to earth manner and willingness to listen to the issues affecting their living conditions and way of life. In addition to holding a dialogue session with the village chiefs, he also visited the school, health clinic and water source at Pos Kemar and took note of their present conditions.

We are optimistic that the Menteri Besar’s visit will bring greater empathy and compassion for their welfare.

The Merdeka concert at the conclusion of the festival almost ended in disaster when the area encountered a violent storm which destroyed the recently constructed external stage. Fortunately, the concert was moved indoors and no one was hurt. It was a truly special and meaningful Merdeka celebration all in all.


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

Largest Mission Field is still the Schools

KOTA KINABALU: The hundred over delegates at a recently held Education Consultation Workshop in the city would not dispute that a clarion call has been sounded to recognize and realize that the largest mission field that faces us today is still the schools.

“The Role of Mission Schools in the Present School System” was the theme for the Education Consultation Workshop jointly organized by the Sabah Council of Churches (SCC) and Sabah Council of Christian Mission Schools (SCCMS), held at All Saints Cathedral here on 7 July 2018 for school heads, boards of governors and mission authorities (the churches).

Altogether there are 100 mission schools in Sabah that are made up as follows: Anglican Mission (11), Basel Mission (15), Catholic Mission of Kota Kinabalu (43), Catholic Mission of Keningau (18), Catholic Mission of Sandakan (10) and Protestant Church of Sabah Mission (3).

Of the 174 delegates, 84 were school heads and senior assistants, 68 board of governors and 22 mission authorities representatives.  Church leaders who graced the event included Bishop Dr James Wong of BCCM, Rev Datuk Jerry Dusing of SIB Sabah, Neil Mah representing Archbishop John Wong of RC Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, Pastor Chin Chi Kiong of Commission of Sabah Affairs (COSA) and Archdeacon Moses Chin of SCCMS.

In welcoming the delegates, Bishop Datuk Melter Tais, President of SCC affirmed that the mission schools are our Godly heritage and legacy. He recalled the audience to the Education Forum 2017 where various resolutions were adopted to reclaim the ethos, character and traditions of our mission schools. Foremost is “to restore the presence of God” in our schools. Next, is to strengthen the faith of the younger generation through Bible Knowledge and Christian Fellowship, and new programs are being put together to promote the holistic development of students who go through our mission schools.

The president noted that the educational landscape of our country has changed over time due to various policies implemented by the government. As such there is a need to revisit the role of our mission schools in the context of the present school system, hence the reason for the Education Consultation Workshop 2018.  It brings together the different stakeholders of our mission schools to engage in a dialogue of clarifying their roles as they revisit the vision for our mission schools, with the possibility of recasting of vision in order to stay relevant with the times.

How educational development policies have impacted misson schools in Malaysia
The keynote address entitled “The Educational Development and Policies in Malaysia and Their Impact on Mission Schools” was delivered by Ms Moey Yoke Lai. She is the Chairperson of the Federation of Councils of Christian Mission Schools Malaysia (FCCMSM) which oversees the 437 mission schools in the country.

Moey pointed out several key issues that had impacted the mission schools, as follows: 1) The surrender of the control of the mission schools under the Aziz Report 1971 without any grant for maintaining the premises; 2) The reduction in non-bumiputra intake into the Teacher Training Institutions; 3) The maximum consultation with the Mission Authorities over the appointment of principals were not followed through; 4) The National Language Policy; and 5)The constant changing of the school curriculum.

Even with the above, Moey is utterly convinced that our mission schools have an important role in the present school system. She said that our mission schools’ emphasis on holistic education (academic excellence, co-curriculum participation and character formation) and its special character (Education for All and for Unity, Compassion for the Poor and Weak, Education that is Person-Centred, Discipline with Love, Prayer and Presence of God, Passion and Perseverance) have pursued the aspirations of the Rukun Negara and the National Philosophy of Education long before they were formulated.

In revisiting the Role of Mission Schools in the Present School System, Moey recommends that mission schools provide world class education, especially in English, at affordable prices. She also urged “We should provide character-first holistic education, focusing on the whole person. We should teach children the joys of learning and of respecting and appreciating God’s beauty. We should introduce students to the important aspect of religion and Christian virtues of discipline, diligence, charity, compassion and integrity.”

Other speakers included Sister Rita Chew of the KK Archdiocesan Education Commission who presented her paper on “The Role of Mission Authorities”, while Ms Yap Pak Shun of the Basel Christian Church of Malaysia Central Education Board spoke on “The Role of School Management Boards”.

In another session to highlight “The Role of School Heads”, Moey related her personal experience beginning with a quote from 1 Timothy 3:1 that whoever aspires to be an overseer (a school head) desires a noble task.

She maintained that the ethos and performance of a mission school depends on the qualities and character of the head. She underlined “The formula for success as head is to live out your Christian life in practical ways that all can see you are different because you are walking in the footsteps of the Master, our Lord Jesus Christ.

“A School Head is responsible for everything that happens within the school. That means the academic curriculum, the co-curriculum, the physical environment, the conduct and welfare of the teachers, support staff and students, the relationships with the State Education Department, PIBG, Alumni, Board of Governors, Mission Authorities and the public,” elaborated Moey.

Parallel workshops were also held for the different stakeholder participants: Mission Authorities, School Management Boards and School Heads to clarify their roles in relation to the theme.

The workshop concluded with recommendations made to enhance the leadership roles of the Mission Authorities, School Management Boards and School Heads.  With the realization that there are 10,000 schools in the country today, with a population of 10.59 million young people from the age of 1 to 19 years old, the workshop delegation could not but help recognizing that there is indeed a need to claim back our Mission Schools and make them our mission field.


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online

Hospitality ministers called to be welcoming to all

KUALA LUMPUR: “The primary role of the Hospitality Minister is to welcome parishioners, visitors, migrants and strangers into the church with a smile, respect and kindness. Taking up the collection is secondary.”

This was disclosed to 25 Hospitality Ministers at a session held recently in the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist, facilitated by its Coordinator, Bernard Anthony.

The history of hospitality can be derived from Genesis 18:1-8, where Abraham welcomed the three visitors, not knowing that he actually welcomed the Lord and two angels. Hebrews 13:2 uses this incident as an example of the kind of hospitality we are to show towards strangers. Bernard added that hospitality is a wonderful quality we all need to work at improving, as being a hospitable host makes our guests feel welcome and comfortable. He said Abraham entreats these visitors to stay and be refreshed (Genesis 18:3-5).

Bernard also gave a short briefing on the background of the ministry. Earlier, it was known as ‘Warden’ Ministry and, more recently, as ‘Hospitality’ Ministry — a Ministry of Joy — being in the frontlines of the cathedral. “We are called to offer our care and to make everyone coming for Mass feel welcome, and to give a sense of belonging, with our warmth.”

Those present included new members who learned more about the history of this 135 year-old parish and what facilities are available. Every Hospitality Minister should have all this information to be able to assist visitors and tourists.

They were also informed on the characteristics a Hospitality Minister should possess: friendliness, caring, concern, tactfulness, a willingness to help and to be welcoming. They should be dressed appropriately when serving and be faithful to the Lord and the Church’s teachings.

Hospitality is an art that requires a large dose of creativity, motivation, innovation and inspiration. One must offer, where called for, individualised and unique attention to the OKU, the mentally challenged, people who have personal issues, etc.

Hospitality Ministers were informed that they must be baptised, received First Holy Communion and are Confirmed. Their duties were also explained in detail.

Bernard said it is important to deepen our own spirituality as ministers in a parish ministry in Church. We are all called by God to serve in this ministry and it is a privilege to serve the Lord and to become his disciples.

There was also group sharing on the characteristics or qualities that a Hospitality Minister should possess, how best we can improve ourselves and what we can do to motivate ourselves to be more committed in serving God and the parish.

Another session would be held on September 30, 2018 on Spirituality and Service. These sessions are held to challenge the Hospitality Ministers to be more committed in their service, to deepen their spirituality and to make sacrifices for Christ and for the community.


Article reproduced from Herald Malaysia online
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