MIRI — On 25 January, the Archdiocese of Kuching rejoiced with the Diocese of Miri as more than 400 Catholics from Kuching were among the 6000-strong crowd who witnessed the Episcopal Ordination of their beloved priest and friend, Bishop Richard Ng, at the Miri Indoor Stadium. Also present at the ordination were his parents and family members.
Bishop Richard Ng, 47, succeeded Bishop Emeritus Anthony Lee, 77, who had been the Bishop of Miri for the past 36 years. Bishop Richard’s appointment was announced on 30 October 2013 at the Vatican.
Bishop Emeritus Anthony Lee was the Principal Consecrator, assisted by Archbishop John Ha (Kuching) and Bishop Joseph Hii (Sibu). Also present were seven archbishops, 11 bishops, 84 priests, deacons, Sisters from various congregations, heads of other Christian churches and Catholic faithful from as far as Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Taiwan. The Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia, Archbishop Joseph Salvador Marino, was among the Archbishops there.
The Rite of Ordination began with the reading of the Letter of Appointment from Pope Francis in English, Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin, which was met with a hearty round of applause from the people as a sign of approval.
The Rite continued with the chanting of the Litany of Saints, laying on of hands by the bishops, the prayer of ordination and the anointing of chrism oil. The newly-ordained was then presented with the ring, mitre and pastoral staff. The ring symbolises the bishop’s fidelity to the Church; the staff symbolises the role of the bishop as a Good Shepherd as he watches over the flock of Christ.
The Rite of Ordination concluded with the newly-ordained Bishop being led to his chair and the kiss of peace by all the Archbishops and bishops present.
Before the final blessing, both Archbishop Marino and Bishop Richard spoke.
Archbishop Marino first expressed appreciation to Bishop Emeritus Anthony Lee for his long service for the people of God in Miri.
“You have served in every sense of the word as a caring pastor of the people entrusted to you for almost 37 years. And you did it with the conviction that ‘if the Lord does not build the house, then the work of the builders is useless’,” said Archbishop Marino.
“Open to the great mystery of the Holy Spirit whose wind blows where it wills, you did it with joy and ease knowing that nothing can separate you and your people from the love of God, which is Jesus Christ our Lord.” he said.
To Bishop Richard who took canonical possession of the Diocese of Miri, Archbishop Marino reminded that his mission as a bishop is to bring the people ever closer to the Chief Shepherd.
“I am sure that with your outstanding qualities as a priest, you will give your entire self to the Church over which you are now pastor,” he said.
The Archbishop also conveyed a message from Pope Francis to all the bishops of Malaysia.
“He (Pope Francis) said please tell the bishops there to always have their doors open to their priests, day and night, seven days a week.”
The Archbishop ended his speech by urging the priests, religious and the laity in Miri to give their fullest support and work closely with Bishop Richard.
Meanwhile, Bishop Richard said he was moved by the tremendous turn-out to witness the ordination and to thank the Lord for a new bishop. He thanked all who had come to pray for him. He also thanked Pope Francis for his trust and confidence.
“Tell the Holy Father,” said Bishop Richard to Archbishop Marino, “that the faithful of Miri loves him. He is in our hearts and prayers, and we invite him to visit us.”
He requested all present to continue to pray for him. “I ask for your prayers that I can be your worthy shepherd, working together as the Body of Christ to build up God’s Kingdom here on earth.”
The celebration continued with a thanksgiving dinner at a local restaurant attended by of which more than 2000 people.
The next morning, Bishop Richard celebrated his first Mass as the Bishop of Miri at St Dominic’s Church, Taman Tunku. The Church was packed to its capacity.
On 31 January, he celebrated the Mass for Chinese New Year at St Joseph’s Cathedral (Miri), and thereafter, held a Chinese New Year Open House.
Bishop Richard Ng was born in Kuching in 1966. He received his primary education at Catholic English Primary School and secondary education at St Joseph’s Secondary School. After finishing Form Six in 1985, he worked as a site supervisor for a construction company for a year before joining the Forestry Department as a laboratory assistant. In 1987, he joined St Peter’s College Major Seminary and was ordained to the priesthood in 1995.
He served the Church in Bunan Gega, Serian and St Joseph’s Cathedral (Kuching) before leaving for Rome to further his studies in Sacred Scripture in 1999. Upon his return in 2003, he taught Sacred Scripture at St Peter’s College and was appointed rector of the seminary in 2008, a post he held until his recent appointment.
In a recent interview with The Star, he attributed his priestly vocation to Br Columba Gleeson and the De La Salle Brothers in St Joseph’s Secondary School, whose dedication to their ministry had drawn him to the priesthood.