Archbishop Simon Poh of Kuching shares a memorable moment in his ad lamina visit to the Holy See on 4-9 Feb 2018 together with the Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
One of the memorable moments of my first Ad Limina Visit was the meeting with Pope Francis on 8 February 2018.
What struck me was most was the humility and brotherly concern of Pope Francis who told us that, as Bishops, we are all brothers in our episcopal ministry and we can speak and share freely among each other. His human touch was evident when he even offered us to feel free to use the washroom nearby.
I shared on the religious reality of Sarawak and Sabah. These states are considered as the Christian part of Malaysia, but we face the challenges of Islamisation.
As the Bishop-in-charge of youth and campus ministry, I presented to the Pope on the rising secularism and the enticement to convert to Islam among the youth. We are working towards a greater collaboration among the dioceses for the pastoral care of the students and youth in Malaysia.
I arrived in Rome a few days before our official Ad Limina. Together with Bishop Richard Ng of Miri and Fr Josef Schmoelzer, a Mill Hill Missionary priest working in Rome who had served in the Kuching Archdiocese, we visited the Mill Hill Retirement Home in Brixen Bressanone (Northern Italy).
We visited the graves of some Mill Hill Missionaries who had served in Sarawak. I was able to pray at the grave of my predecessor Bishop Charles Reiterer who was the second Bishop of Kuching. I am especially grateful to visit the grave of Fr Josef Wassermann who had baptised me in 1979 when I was in Form 4.
The moment I saw the graves of the many missionaries who were buried in the church cemetery, I realised that when these missionaries left Europe to serve in the mission lands, they would not have known the impact of their missionary contribution in our land.
At the grave, I stood there as a testimony of the fruits of their labour.
The Ad Limina visit to the tombs of the Apostles Peter (Basilica of St Peter) and Paul (Basilica of St Paul-Outside-The-Walls) gave me a great sense of affirmation to continue in the mission that the Lord has given me.
This mission was first entrusted by Jesus to St Peter, St Paul and the Apostles, carried on by the missionaries who were sent from Europe to Malaysia. Now it is in the hands of all of us — bishops, priests, religious, and lay-faithful of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei. – Herald Malaysia, 2 Mar 2018