KOTA KINABALU – “In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, many of us have experienced the love of our Merciful Father in various ways. Today, as we gather to witness the priestly ordination of Deacon Joshua Liew, that the mercy of God is concretely manifested to us.”
Aptly expressed by Archbishop John Wong in his speech after he has ordained Deacon Joshua to the priestly ministry, he continued “Yet with all our failures and sinfulness, God still raises up a new priest in the person of Joshua Liew to administer the sacraments of His love to our communities. Let us join Fr Joshua in thanksgiving and praising God for His merciful love!”
Family members, friends, parishioners from near and far packed the Sacred Heart Cathedral here to witness the ordination ceremony on 3 May 2016. With Archbishop John Wong at the altar were Archbishop Emeritus John Lee and scores of clergy from the three dioceses, and formator Fr Erik Jerome who represented St Peter’s College Kuching. Notably present were Deacon Joshua’s four batchmates in the persons of Fr John Pereira from Melaka-Johor Diocese, Fathers Harry Dorisoh and Hilanus Simon from Keningau Diocese, and Fr Stanley William from Sandakan Diocese. Batchmate Fr Robert Jissem from Kuching Archdiocese was unable to be present for the occasion.
The prelate noted that though the addition of a new priest would mean that the workload of the existing presbyterium could now be shared, he seized the opportune moment to reveal the exceedingly high ratio of priest/laity population (1:5400) within the archdiocese. Turning to the parents, he asked directly “Have you ever thought of encouraging your children to go to the seminary or convent? Have you ever made priesthood or sisterhood a possible choice when you discuss about careers with your children?”
Without letting up hope, especially in the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the prelate urged the faith community to “continue to pray for the merciful love of the Father for more vocations.”
Archbishop Wong then welcomed Fr Joshua to the presbyterium, though he has lost a deacon but gained a priest, and reminded him as he begins his new life as a priest to “always submit to the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit to help you become a priest after the heart of God”.
In his response, the neo-ordained declared his love for his bishop “I look forward to continue this journey with your guidance and love!”
He explained his choice of motto “Feed my sheep” and conceded that many people who crossed his life have come across as “shepherds” leading and guiding him to the Lord.
Attesting this to the graciousness and benevolence of God towards him, he has taken up his motto and vowed to live it up for the rest of his life, “Pray for me that I may live up to this motto “Feed my sheep.” I will also pray for you,” he said.
Fr Joshua, born and bred in Kota Kinabalu, hails from the cathedral parish. The last ordination witnessed by the cathedral parish was that of Fr Mitchelly Kiun on 26 Feb 2014.
The neo-ordained, who has been assigned to the cathedral since finishing his formation in St Peter’s College in 2015 up till his diaconate, will continue to serve there as assistant to the parish priest.
What others who have been inspired by Fr Joshua say:
Mother of Fr Joshua, Shirley Kondilis: “It’s a huge grace and blessing for our family! I pray he would be a good and holy priest, and serve God’s people well!”
Younger sister, Jessica: “I am happy, excited, and proud of my brother! It used to feel so long, but looking back, I felt it has gone really fast! I knew he would go through it all. I have no doubt!”
Younger brother, Jeremiah: “I didn’t expect this day to be this big! Happy for him that he has achieved his milestone!”
Younger brother, Joel: “Good job, Josh! You are ready for it! And God is always with you!”
Yvonne: “With another young priest in SHC, we have extra support and ears to listen to the cries of the young people!”
Eldrich: “The Church is full; it’s a sign that the Church is an ‘in thing,’ it’s not an outdated thing. Personally for me, Joshua has shown me that it doesn’t matter how young you are; when you are captured by the love of God, there’s always something fruitful in front of you and really with his courage and his ‘yes,’ I hope that the Church will continue to bear fruit.”