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St Ann’s new church construction progress

KOTA PADAWAN — 9 February saw The Right Honourable Prime Minister YAB Datuk Patinggi Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak and The Right Honourable Chief Minister YAB Datuk Amar Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Abang Haji Openg making the official site visit to St Ann’s Church. They gave a grant of RM4 million received from the State Government and the Federal Government, of which the 24,591 strong Roman Catholic parishioners are most grateful.

Earlier this year, the parish also received a grant of RM400,000.00 under the Minor Rural project (MRP) from Majlis Perbandaran Padawan (MPP). With these grants, the first of the four phases of the new St Ann’s Building project is well on its way towards completion.

The St Ann new Church site, covering 6 acres, sits strategically on the intersection of Jalan Puncak Borneo and Jalan Landeh, at Kota Padawan 10th Mile Kuching-Serian Road. The total cost of the First phase amounts to RM 14.5 million which covers the construction of the main Church building (that can accommodate up to 2,225 parishioners), infrastructure works and reclamation of the swampy land.

The opening ceremony of the new Church scheduled on 30 April has been postponed to the end of this year to give time for the parish to attend to the following critical and urgent concerns:

  • The boundary drainage issues encompassing also the site’s immediate surroundings and other related infrastructure works.
    The roof extension around the main Church, which provides an additional sheltered external seating area, that will cater for the additional number of parishioners attending the major liturgical celebrations like Easter, Ash Wednesday and Christmas.
  • Although the roof and concrete platform extension as mentioned above were planned to be carried out at a later date, the St Ann New Church Building Committee had been advised that it is more judicious and cost-effective to add these extensions during the current period of the construction of the Main Church building.
    The works have started on the two major drainage boundaries and commencement for the roof extension will begin soon, based on the grants received from Majlis Perbandaran Padawan (MPP), State Government and Federal Government. This will be followed by the major interior works for the main Church building, in preparation for her historical official opening by end of 2017.

The Rector of St Ann’s Mission, Fr Gerard Victor, OFM, stated, “The entire building and construction team have done their best and we are convinced that these delays are in fact for the good of the overall St Ann Building Project and long-term interest of the parishioners. The parish team is committed to the fullest accountability and transparency and will continue to keep parishioners and well-wishers informed from time to time of the construction progress through our St Ann’s Parish Facebook page and website.”

He added that the parish is very thankful for all the contributions and support received from near and far. This will enable the parish to begin planning for Phase Two of the building project, which includes the Church office and classrooms for faith formation, meetings and other Church-related activities.

In anticipation of continuous unfailing support, the parish is confident Phase Three and Phase Four which consist of a Multi-purpose Hall and a Priests’ residential building is in the offering.

St Ann’s Church

Today’s Catholic Vol.29 No.1 May 2017

A new deacon for the Archdiocese of Kuching

BUNAN GEGA — In the Archdiocese of Kuching, each diaconate ordination brings hope to the people of God, where they look forward to the gift of another priest.

On 23 April, the Archdiocese of Kuching rejoiced over the diaconate ordination of Galvin Richard Ngumbang. More than 2000, including family and friends of Galvin from far and near convened at St Jude’s Church, Bunan to witness the solemn ceremony.

Galvin was ordained into the order of deacons by Archbishop Simon Poh. It was the first ordination ceremony for the new Archbishop of Kuching since he took possession of the Archdiocese.

Born and bred in Kuching, the thirty-four year old is the youngest son of the late Richard Lee Ngumbang and Iris Ulat Pasa. Galvin underwent his primary and secondary education at St Joseph’s school and later graduated from UiTM Samarahan Campus in 2004 with Diploma in Science. Prior to entering the seminary in 2010, he worked as an Assistant Science Officer with the Malaysian Pepper Board in Sibu.

In his speech, the newly ordained deacon encouraged young people to courageously answer God’s call to the priesthood or religious life. “Offer up everything to God, your family and your anxiety. Be assured that God has a beautiful plan for those who totally give themselves to him,” said Br Galvin.

At the end of the ordination Mass, Archbishop Simon Poh thanked the community of St Jude’s Parish for hosting the ordination event. He also thanked the deacon’s mother, Iris Pasa for offering her only son to God in the service of God’s people in the Archdiocese of Kuching.

Br Galvin Ngumbang will continue to serve in St Jude’s Parish, Bunan until further appointment.

Audrey Yu

Today’s Catholic Vol.29 No.1 May 2017

Archbishop Emeritus John Ha: I retire with peace of mind and heart

KUCHING — In his address after the installation Mass on 20 March, Archbishop Emeritus John Ha, 70, whose resignation was announced on 4 March, shared the reason of his resignation from the Archbishop’s Office ahead of the canonical age of 75. Below is his speech that evening:

“With my successor found, the Most Reverend Simon Poh Hoon Seng, I am now able to retire with peace of mind and heart. I certainly feel a profound relief and joy deep within me. To me this sense of relief and joy are an affirmation that I have made the right decision to request the Holy Father’s approval for my resignation from the Archbishop’s Office ahead of the canonical age.

On hearing the official announcement of my “resignation”, many have asked “WHY?” I guess the term “resignation” which is the canonical term carries some negative connotations like ill health, inappropriate conduct, disillusionment. To clear the air, I now share my reason for my decision to request for early retirement.

The Holy Father’s acceptance of my request for stepping down prematurely from the Archbishop’s Office was announced on 4 March 2017, deliberately timed to coincide with my 70th birthday. My reason for this timing was that I thought the age of 70 would be readily accepted as grounds for early retirement.

Thinking back, I suppose I could say that at the rock bottom my reason for requesting for early retirement is my love for the Church, though this may not have been so explicit in my mind. I have been deeply inspired and encouraged by Pope Benedict XVI who resigned from the papacy a few years ago primarily because he had realised that in his condition then he would not able to lead the Church as effectively as the Church deserved.

Over the last few years, I have been increasingly feeling my age as it gradually manifested its symptoms – brevity of attention, frequent lapses of memory, quick mental exhaustion at meetings. In addition, I gradually felt worn out by challenges from within and from without myself personally as well as the Church. At times, I felt rather discouraged if not totally helpless. Administrative work also started to take its toll on me, so much so, that I began to feel it more as a burden than as a joyful ministry.

I felt that these gradually debilitating realities of mine must not be allowed to hamper the growth of the Archdiocese of Kuching. I saw the need for an Auxiliary Bishop – one who is obviously younger, but also more capable, more energetic, more resilient and even more charismatic than myself. I therefore took a considered decision to write to Cardinal Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, Holy See, to request for an Auxiliary. Bishop Simon was appointed and ordained in September 2015.

With him as my Auxiliary, I was able to share several administrative and pastoral responsibilities with Bishop Simon. In the process, I saw his aptitude and capability. I also looked at the other two Bishops (Bishop Joseph Hii of Sibu and Bishop Richard Ng of Miri). Any one of these three Bishops could easily take over from me as the Archbishop of Kuching. Thus, in September last year, I confidently and courageously submitted another request to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples – this time for a successor. Acting on my request, the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Joseph Marino, conducted an extensive consultation. The appointment of Bishop Simon as my successor resulted from this consultation.

Of course I am very glad that Bishop Simon has been appointed to succeed me. This is because he has been very actively involved in the pastoral care of the Archdiocese. As a result of this involvement of his, he truly knows the ins and outs of the Archdiocese. His appointment assures continuity as well as progress of the Archdiocese.

Archbishop Simon Poh has taken canonical possession of the Archdiocese of Kuching. To him I say, “Congratulations and thank you, Simon.” To all the Catholics of the Archdiocese, I say: “Archbishop Simon Poh is now your Archbishop. We thank God for him and I am sure you will give him full support and keep him in your prayers. May God make him the shepherd we need and deserve – a shepherd after Christ’s own heart.”

A new shepherd for the Archdiocese of Kuching

KUCHING — Newly-installed Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kuching, Archbishop Simon Poh, invited all faithful to discern God’s vision and to plan the direction of the archdiocese together.

“As the Archdiocese of Kuching embarks on the process we call ‘3R’, Review, Reassess and Renew… we are seeking a vision of what we want our Church to be, and seek ways to live out this mission in our parishes,” said Archbishop Simon during his homily.

In 2012, the Archdiocese of Kuching held the Archdiocesan Pastoral Congress to assist the-then Archbishop of Kuching, Archbishop John Ha in crafting the direction of the archdiocese. The result of the Congress was the “ACTS of the Congress”, a set of action plans for the pastoral direction of the archdiocese. This year, the local church reviews and reassesses the ACTS. Survey questionnaire forms are made available for this purpose. The findings of the review will be brought to the archdiocesan assembly scheduled on 18 – 20 August.  Continue reading A new shepherd for the Archdiocese of Kuching

Pope Francis to the laity: Go out and evangelise, or buy mothballs

LOS ANGELES, California — When asked in a new interview what specific mission he has for the laity, Pope Francis responded with a frequent appeal: to go outside of oneself and take risks in evangelising, rather than staying stuffed up at home while the moths move in.

“Sometimes I think the best business we can do with many Christians, is to sell them mothballs so that they put them in their clothes and in their lives and aren’t eaten by moths,” the Pope said in the interview.

The interviewer, journalist Noel Díaz, had questioned the Pope about a comment he had made to him on a previous occasion to “tell the laity to come out of the caves.” When asked about the comment and what mission he would give to the laity with that image in mind, Francis said that many times Christians “are locked up and they are going to get eaten by moths”.

“They have to go out, they have to go and bring the message of Jesus” to others, he said, explaining that the Good News is meant to be shared, not stored away.

“The message of Jesus is to give it; so just as I receive it from him through a brother or sister, the grace comes to me and I give it,” he said, stressing that Christians shouldn’t “can” the message, trying to conserve it in a jar, because “it’s not to save, it’s to give”.

By taking the Good News and then delivering it to others, “in this way I leave the cave,” he said, and stressed the importance of practising the works of mercy, which are “the backbone of the Gospel” and what we will eventually be judged on.

Pope Francis gave his interview to El Sembrador Nueva Evangelización – ESNE TV and Radio station, a non-profit established in Los Angeles in 1994 and which is currently headed by Díaz, the station’s founder and director. The interview was conducted on 22 November, and was broadcast 29 January.

In the interview, conducted in the Pope’s native Spanish tongue, Díaz noted how Francis frequently calls for Christians to be joyful rather than sour, going out to the streets and making the Gospel message known to those who are far off.

When asked by the journalist what Christians lack in order for this to become the norm, the Pope said there is a need for greater “courage, since we are comfortable and comfort betrays us.”

Pointing to the “apostolic zeal” of St Paul, the Pope said he had the “courage to go out”, which is something Christians ought to grow in if they want “to bring what we have received” to others.

Apart from courage, the Pope said that in his own personal view, something that is often missing is prayer: “prayer is lacking… because without prayer there is no courage, there is a lack of intercession”.

“We have to pray more and go out, but always with prayer, because I go out with the Lord,” he said, explaining that prayer is what unites us to God.

He pointed specifically to meditating on Scripture through Lectio Divina, saying “this is a very beautiful exercise and all of us have a quarter of an hour to do it, to take the bible, a little piece, and reflect a bit”.

Francis was also asked what kind of legacy he would like to leave with the Church, and responded with many ideas that have already become trademarks of his papacy: “a Church that goes out is one, open doors, Christians going out on the streets, Christians who are convinced, a prayerful Church”.

Touching on what he said is a “key point”, Pope Francis said there is a great need for Christians “who know how to adore the Lord”.

After sitting in silent adoration, “one leaves with the strength of knowing that there is someone above, that it’s the Lord,” he said, adding that the ability to adore is “the greatest strength” of the spiritual life, since many times our prayers are “petty”.

Many time people go to the Lord asking him to give them something or to solve a problem, he said, noting that “those who give thanks are fewer”.

God, he said, “loves us, he gives us a hand and arranges things” when we ask, but “to adore, which few know how to adore, to adore God who is the Lord in this world” is rare, but essential.

Another legacy the Pope said he wants to leave is a sense of awareness in every Christian home, family and people that “the spirit of the world is not from God, it’s the antithesis of God”.

It’s because of this that Jesus at the Last Supper prays not for his disciples to be taken out of the world, but to be “defended” from it, he said, pointing to money as a key cause of worldliness.

“Worldliness begins with money, the devil enters through the pockets, in money… it gives you security, (but) a security that isn’t from God,” he said, explaining that money eventually leads to vanity, which then leads to pride, “and from hence all sins” come.

Francis was then asked to send a message to a specific groups of people – youth, elderly, parish priests and single mothers – when the interviewer mentioned them, before offering a special greeting to the station and its viewers.


Today’s Catholic Vol.29 No.11 February 2017