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Delegates challenged to answer the call to care for Creation

Delegates at a photo call with Bishop Joseph Hii (seated, 3rd from right) and Clare Westwood (seated, centre)

PENANG — Bishop of Sibu, Bishop Joseph Hii led a group of eight laity from the Diocese of Sibu and Father Oniz to attend the 5th Justice and Peace Commission Workshop held at Stella Maris Retreat Centre, Penang.

Seven priests and twelve laity from the dioceses of Brunei, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, Miri, Sibu and Penang attended the workshop on 20-23 February. It centred on the Holy Father’s encyclical “Laudato Si’”, which reflects Pope Francis’ concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development for our common home.  Continue reading Delegates challenged to answer the call to care for Creation

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

Auxiliary Bishop Simon Poh appointed new Archbishop of Kuching

Archbishop-designate Simon Poh to take over Archbishop John Ha as the new archbishop of Kuching

KUCHING — On 4 March, Pope Francis appointed Auxiliary Bishop Simon Poh Hoon Seng as the new Archbishop of Kuching, to succeed Archbishop John Ha. At the same time, the Holy Father has accepted the resignation of Archbishop John Ha from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Kuching.

The new Archbishop of Kuching will be installed and take possession of the archdiocese on the Feast of St Joseph on 20 March at 7.30 pm. The ceremony will be held at St Joseph’s Cathedral (Kuching).

As the Chief Shepherd of the Archdiocese of Kuching, the Metropolitan See of Sarawak, Archbishop Simon Poh will receive the pallium from Pope Francis in St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, on the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, 29 June.

Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia, Archbishop Joseph Marino will perform the investiture of pallium on the new Archbishop of Kuching on 19 July in Kuching.

The pallium is a symbol of communion with the Church of Rome and the Pope.

In a recent press release, Archbishop-designate Simon Poh expressed his gratitude and loyalty to Holy Father. He pledged his commitment to the faithful, Religious, Priests of the Archdiocese of Kuching and to the Malaysian Church, building on the good work that began with Archbishop Emeritus Peter Chung and carried on by Archbishop John Ha.

Today’s Catholic Vol.28 No.12 March 2017

Priest: We need to praise what is good, true in the Muslim faith

VATICAN CITY — Not only is there a good deal in common between Muslims and Christians, but Catholics are called to respect and work together with those who practise the Muslim faith in recognition of truth and goodness they do possess, said Islam scholar Fr Thomas Michel.

Fr Michel, who holds a PhD in Islamic Theology and worked under Pope John Paul II as head of the Vatican Office for Relations with Muslims, told CNA that Benedict XVI, like both St John Paul II and Pope Francis, have all repeated the same message regarding Muslims – that of the Second Vatican Council.

“The document Nostrae aetate says that the Church has ‘esteem’ for Muslims,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that we should just tolerate Muslims or put up with Muslims. ‘Esteem’ means to try to see what people have that’s good and appreciate them for that.”  Continue reading Priest: We need to praise what is good, true in the Muslim faith