KOTA PADAWAN — On 1 May, the Parish of St Ann celebrated a historical moment with the ordination of Friar Oliver Tham, OFM. This was the first ordination of its kind to be held in the Baruk after many years, while waiting for the new St Ann’s Church to be completed.
The parishioners from the villages and housing estates under St Ann’s Parish took great pride to ensure that the occasion would be an unforgettable experience for those attending the ordination Mass. The event was also broadcast live on Facebook and YouTube by St Ann’s media team.
The people who witnessed the ordination were greeted by a welcoming committee as they made their way up to the Baruk. There was also a team of young dancers with traditional costumes to welcome Archbishop Simon Poh, with sounds of drums and gong beats resonating in the background.
The atmosphere in the Baruk was truly electrifying in the midst of the gathering of the faithful. The combined choir, cantor and musicians led the people in the singing during the Mass. There was a spirit of great rejoicing and enthusiasm could be felt throughout the celebration of the ordination of Friar Oliver Tham.
The presence of Achbishops Emeriti Peter Chung and John Ha, together with Archbishop Simon Poh, also had a significant impact on the occasion for both the parishioners of St Ann and Franciscan friars.
The presence of the Franciscan Friars in Sarawak was initiated by Archbishop Emeritus Peter Chung way back in the late 90s’ and therefore this occasion had to be of great significance for him in a personal way. Both Archbishop Emeritus John Ha and later Archbishop Simon continue to be supportive towards the friars’ in St Ann.
The three bishops were also joined by Friar Philip Miscamble, OFM as Provincial and Friar John Wong as Custos, together with the priests from the diocese, friars from Australia, Singapore and Malaysia and Sisters of St Francis of Sarawak (SSFS).
Friar Oliver Tham with his parents, brother and other family members expressed their gratitude at the love and support of the friars and the people of Kuching.
The newly ordained priest will be posted to Penang as part of the Franciscan presence to serve and minister to the people there.
The parish of St Ann is truly blessed to have so many wonderful people who worked tirelessly in both visible and invisible ways to ensure the success of the ordination ceremony.
This ordination ceremony also became a dress rehearsal for the next important event in the life of St Ann when the parish will celebrate the mother of all celebrations with the opening of the new St Ann’s Church.
Fr Gerard Victor
Today’s Catholic Vol.29 No.1 May 2017