Tag Archives: kuching

Fundraising dinner raises over RM200,000 for Kuching Carmelite Monastery rebuilding fund

The Carmelite nuns and Carmelite Seculars pose with Abp Poh at the mock cheque presentation, 16  Dec 2017, Kuching.

KUCHING — A total amount of RM513,870.04 was presented to the Carmelite nuns of the Carmelite Monastery of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on 16 Dec 2017. Out of the sum presented, RM213,870.04 came from the fundraising dinner raised on the previous day and a grant of RM300,000.00 from the State Government. Another RM300,000.00 is still needed.

The fundraising dinner in aid of the rebuilding of the Carmelite Monastery in Kuching was  held at the Archdiocesan Curia and Cathedral Pastoral Centre (ACCPC) on Oct 15. It was organised by Christ the King OCDS Community (Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites) and Friends of Carmelites headed by Datin Sri Annie Fong OCDS. Tickets were sold at RM5,000, RM3,000 and RM1,000 per table respectively. Archbishop Simon Poh, Archbishop Emeritus John Ha, Father Kenneth of the Cross, OCD who represented the Carmelite Friars, priests, religious brothers and sisters from the Archdiocese of Kuching together with well-wishers attended the dinner.

During the dinner, Abp Poh explained the revised cost for the rebuilding.

“When the rebuilding of the termite-infested Carmelite Monastery was mooted quite a few years ago, the simple estimate was that RM4 million should be sufficient. By the time the drawings were ready for tender in 2016, the cost of materials had gone up, government service tax had to be added and the Ringgit had depreciated. When we calculated the allocation for interior furnishing, kitchen equipment and utensils, etc, the total budget ballooned to RM5.9 million to complete the whole monastery,” said the prelate. He further informed all present that there was still a shortfall of RM1.1 million.

Carmelite Father Charles Serrao, a former Definitor General whom the nuns know well for 25 years, was invited to the dinner. However, he could not make it due to other commitments in his Province back in India. His speech was pre-recorded and played that evening. He highlighted the charism of the Carmelite nuns and explained why it is necessary to rebuild such a big monastery for them.

In another video, Mother Prioress Sister Marie Evelyn addressed all those present and thanked them for their support towards the rebuilding project of the nuns. The video also featured the cloistered life of the nuns, the making of altar bread and the progress of the construction work of the new monastery. They also had the privilege to hear the sweet voices of the nuns, who sang for them towards the end of the recorded video.

All invited guests together with the working committee and OCDS members took part in the cake cutting ceremony to mark the Solemnity of St Teresa of Jesus and the 17th Anniversary of Christ the King OCDS Community. Thereafter, the Secular Carmelites led in the singing of the song “Salva Regina”. The working committee also entertained all present with a song entitled “I will follow Him.”

The nuns of Kuching Carmelite Monastery of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and organisers would like to thank everyone for their presence and contribution towards the success of this first fundraising dinner. The rebuilding of the new monastery is scheduled to complete by June 2018. Contribution towards the rebuilding project can still be made by using the Brown envelope or directed to the Archbishop’s Office.  – Catherine Sim OCDS

Kuching prelate officiates groundbreaking ceremony of Sarawak’s first Catholic columbarium

Artist impression of St Peter Columbarium Kuching.

KUCHING — The blessing and ground breaking ceremony by Archbishop Simon Poh for the construction of the Columbarium at St Peter’s Church took place on 5 December 2017. About 50 people consisting of consultants, contractors, parish councillors, members of the Humanitarian Foundation and some parishioners attended the auspicious occasion.

In his welcoming speech, the archbishop thanked the councillors, parishioners and benefactors, especially the Humanitarian Foundation, for making this project possible. He said that the columbarium is a sacred place for keeping the cremated remains of the departed. Through the Humanitarian Foundation, some of the niches will also be made available for the needy and poor Catholics as their final resting place.

A columbarium is a building where ‘niches’ are placed to house cremated remains of the deceased. The name derives from an Italian word ‘columba’, which means ‘the dwelling place of a dove’. Niches are spaces in the walls of the columbarium for the inurnment of human remains after cremation.

When asked why the parish decided to build a columbarium in the parish compound, the rector of St Peter’s Church, Father Vincent Chin, explained that they are trying to restore an old tradition of the Church. “The old tradition of the Church was to have a cemetery next to a church to make sure that those who passed away were close to the believing community. So all the while, wherever there was a church, there was always a cemetery next to it,” he said.

The proximity of the cemetery to the church makes it convenient for church-goes to visit and pray for their departed loved ones as often as they go to the church. It also serves as a reminder that it is their responsibility to pray for those who are gone, and that they too would be laid there one day. It is also to show that there is nothing to fear about the dead.

With the current scarcity of land in Kuching and the government regulations on burial places, having a cemetery near a church is next to impossible. That is why Catholic cemeteries are located further and further away. The nearest cemetery in Kuching accessible to most Catholics is the one at 13-1/2 Mile.

“In this kind of situation, people would probably only go to the cemetery twice a year, once during the death anniversary of the person, another on All Souls Day,” remarked Fr Chin. “Other than that, they (the dead) are mostly forgotten,” he said. “The presence of the columbarium will bring that old tradition back.”

“When we decided to have this columbarium, we make it our responsibility and commitment to include the departed on every All Souls Day and every Friday in November and in their death anniversary month, regardless if their families offer Mass for them or not,” said Fr Chin. He said a lot of parishioners are worried there is no one to pray for them when they passed on because their children are overseas and they have no other relatives or friends in town. “We assure them that they will be taken care of,” he added.

The document Ad resurgendum cum Christo, an instruction “regarding the burial of the deceased and the conservation of the ashes in the case of cremation” issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 15 August 2016, mentions that although the Church prefers burial at cemeteries, she has no doctrinal objections towards the practice of cremation. “Cremation of the deceased’s body does not affect his or her soul, nor does it prevent God, in his omnipotence, from raising up the deceased body to new life,” the instruction says.

Instead, the Church is more concerned about the proper handling of the cremains. “In the past there was no ruling or guidelines, and so people just simply threw the ashes away,” Fr Chin explained. The document highlighted three points: firstly, the ashes must not be scattered anywhere; secondly, no subdividing of the cremains; and thirdly, the cremains are not allowed to be kept at home.

The practice of scattering of the ashes into the natural environment is a Buddhist practice, he pointed out. “The Buddhists believe that when we die, we enter into nothingness. The ashes are no longer important, and so you can do whatever you like with them,” he said. “However, for us, Catholics, once a person is cremated, the cremains is still the remains of a person, just like the remains of a person who is buried in the ground. So the Church emphasises that proper respect to the ashes must be given,” he added.

On why the Church forbids keeping the ashes at home, Fr Chin said, “Your children may respect you and hence, they would want to keep the urn properly. But for the subsequent generations who do not know you, the chances that the ashes are not properly cared for are high.”

One of the reasons for building a columbarium is that the local church still does not have a decent place for Catholics who opted for cremation. As a result, their ashes have to be interred at Buddhist columbaria. “This is not a good reflection on the church,” he said. “If we allowed for cremation, we must also have a proper place for them too.”

Asked on the procedures to secure a desired niche at the new columbarium, Fr Chin said parishioners can give a specific donation. The donation will be used to build the columbarium, while the excess will go to pay for the construction of the new parish church. “In appreciation of the donation, we offer the donors a space in the columbarium. They don’t own the space. Everything is still owned by the church,” he said.

Such arrangement is made so that, if in the future, should the columbarium need to be relocated to make way for a more important development, or the government suddenly wanted to take back the land where the columbarium is, the church would not need to ask permission from every family whose family members’ remains are kept in the columbarium.

“When that kind of unforeseen circumstances arise, we will relocate the whole columbarium to another new place at our own expense,” said Fr Chin. “The family may choose to bring back the urns or continue to let the church does the safekeeping for them without extra payment,” he said. “The placing of the urn is as permanent as the cemetery.”

There are two types of niches offered, for married couple and single person. The donation for single ones range from RM5K – RM8K, while the donation for married couples range from RM8K – RM13K, depending on the levels. There will be six levels of the niches. The two-storey columbarium can house approximately five thousand people.

Those who are interested to secure a space would need to contact Fr Vincent Chin personally at his office.

The whole contract sum of the project is RM4.028 million. The parish is very grateful to the Humanitarian Foundation headed by Dr Jeffrey Goh, which kindly sponsored RM3.666 million for the building project.

The construction of the columbarium is expected to complete by December 2018. – Audrey Yu, todayscatholic

55 Kuching single women attend first retreat

Fr Albert Jacobse celebrating the anniversary Mass for the Single Women Ministry prior to the retreat conducted by Wendy Louise (inset)

KUCHING — The Catholic Singles Women Ministry (CSWM), formed in August 2016, headed by their spiritual advisers Father Jerome Juleng and Sister Marie Celine SSFS, had their first retreat themed ‘Daughters of Light’ on 18 -19 November 2017. 

Wendy Louis, the speaker, is the Executive Secretary of Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) Office, Singapore. She has been a formator and trainer for over 20 years. Her rich experiences in working with various church organisations and speaking from the perspectives of a lay person yet in total conformity with church teachings, makes her a good speaker.

Wendy took the 55 retreatants to a new level of understanding of what it means to be beloved Daughters of Light. She shared on how to be a light to others and how to exercise the common priesthood in daily life. In other words, how to be Church with a mission.

She opened the minds and hearts of the participants to the tender gaze of God and helped them experience the joy and fruitfulness of the single life and to be a gift to others.

Wendy reminded all that there are challenges in every state of life. Nevertheless, the singles can stay engaged and connected in their lives with God through contemplative prayer, a ministry of presence and a culture of love and service.

Each lay ministry in the church must embody the four hallmarks of the church: One (united to the parish), Holy (God centred), Catholic (being inclusive) and Apostolic (servant leadership).

Retreatants were also given time for self-reflection and personal resolution.

Father Albert Jacobse MHM who presided over CSWM first anniversary Mass and the Sunday Mass preached on using one’s talents for the good of others. He reminded the daughters of light to always walk in the light of God.

The feedback from the retreatants was very positive and encouraging.  – todayscatholic

Kuching Archdiocese welcomes new priest

Newly ordained Fr Galvin R Ngumbang (L) with Abp Poh at the lectern, 22 Sept 2017, Kuching.

KUCHING: Kuching Archdiocese welcomed a new priest to its presbyterium on 22 Sept 2017.

Archbishop Simon Poh of Kuching ordained Deacon Galvin Richard Ngumbang, 34, to the priesthood at St Joseph’s Cathedral here.

Poh said this would be the beginning of Galvin’s ministry to serve and walk humbly with the people placed under his pastoral care.

“Parishioners will begin to call you ‘Father,’ but always keep in your heart that ‘Father’ is not a title, but a relationship with the people of God,” he said.

The service, witnessed by Galvin’s immediate family members and fellow Catholics, began with a traditional Orang Ulu dance.

In the ordination booklet, Galvin revealed that his journey to serve God began after Form 3 when he prayed to pass the Penilaian Menengah Rendah in 1998.

“I was very surprised that I passed the exam and questioned myself as to whether I was special and that God heard my prayer,” he said.

Galvin stated that his true call to serve God was after he attended Holy Hour at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sibu, when he found his mind at peace and the will to serve God prevailed.

He began seminary studies in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah in 2010 after resigning as assistant science officer with the Pepper Marketing Board Sibu.

Galvin obtained his Bachelor of Theology from Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome, on 25 Nov  2016 and graduated from St Peter’s College Major Seminary Kuching on 16 Dec 2016.

He was admitted to the candidacy for Holy Orders by Poh on 3 April 2017 and was ordained as deacon at St Jude’s Church, Bunan Gega Tebedu on April 23. – theborneopost.com

Kuching lad ordained deacon in Bunan Gega

BUNAN GEGA — A Kuching lad was ordained to the diaconate in Bunan Gega on 23 Apr 2017.

Over 2000 people including family members and friends witnessed the diaconal ordination of Galvin Richard Ngumbang at St Jude Bunan Gega by Archbishop Simon Poh.

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 Initiation Year in 2010 in Kota Kinabalu, 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,” he said.

At the end of the ordination Mass, Abp 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.

The new deacon will continue to serve in St Jude’s Parish, Bunan until further notice. – todayscatholic.com.my

Kuching prelate urges faithful to reach out to the poor more extensively

Abp Poh officiates the rite of blessing at the Catholic Services Centre Kuching, 16 July 2017.

KUCHING – Archbishop Simon Poh urged the laity to reach out more extensively to help the poor and the needy in society.

He said this at a blessing ceremony held on 16 July 2017 at the Catholic Services Centre here that functions as a rest centre for rural visitors, a food bank and soup kitchen.

The prelate told those present to look to Mother Teresa of Calcutta as their model and emulate the example of Pope Francis in being genuinely charitable and loving towards others, especially those who are suffering.

He also encouraged more Catholics to volunteer their time, effort, material or financial resources to help those in poverty, those who are suffering physical illnesses or handicaps, and those who are unable to fend for themselves.

“This centre has volunteers who prepare daily food packs for distribution to some 244 poor and needy families and individuals.  The centre is working with St Vincent De Paul Society and Society for Kuching Urban Poor in food distribution,” he added.

Catholics, he said, must play a role to bring God’s mercy and kindness to those in need.

About RM1 mil is needed by the Catholic church to run charitable projects in the Kuching Catholic Archdiocese every year.

The archdiocese also has homes for the elderly.

The St Vincent De Paul Society helps poor students with school items and school bus fare as well as tuition.

Abp Poh said a fundraising run will be organised on Sept 9 by the Catholic Welfare to try to raise RM2.5 mil for future charity causes. – STAR

Apostolic Nuncio imposes pallium on Kuching prelate

Abp Marino imposes the pallium on Abp Poh, 18 July 2017, Kuching.

KUCHING – Archbishop Joseph Marino, apostolic nuncio to Malaysia, imposed the pallium on Archbishop Simon Poh at St Joseph’s Cathedral here on 18 July 2017.

To many lay faithful, if not all, this was the first time to witness such an occasion as it has never been done before in the archdiocese.

Earlier, Abp Poh has received the pallium from Pope Francis at St Peter’s Basilica Vatican City on 29 June, Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, together with 36 new metropolitan archbishops from around the world.

However, since 2015, the investiture of the pallium is to be done at the new archbishop’s home diocese by the apostolic nuncio.

“I received from the Holy See the mandate to impose on Archbishop Simon the pallium which he brought from Rome,” the apostolic nuncio explained before the Mass for the Investiture of the Pallium.

The nuncio said it was the pope’s explicit desire that while he would give the pallia to the archbishops, it would be imposed on them his representative in a ceremony at the cathedral so as to give honour to the local Church.

Addressing Abp Poh, the nuncio reminded him of the words of Pope Francis:

Dear Archbishops who today receive the pallium, it is a sign which represents the sheep that the shepherd carries on his shoulders as Christ the Good Shepherd does, and it is therefore a symbol of your pastoral mission.  The pallium is a liturgical sign of communion that unites the See of Peter and his Successor to the Metropolitans, and through them to the other bishops of the world.

Abp Poh then knelt before the apostolic nuncio as he made the Profession of Faith, following which Abp Marino placed the pallium on the shoulders of Abp Poh.

Returning to his seat with the pallium, Abp Poh led the congregation in singing the Gloria.

In his homily, the Kuching prelate explained the significance of the pallium. The pallium is woven from the wool of two lambs blessed by the Pope on the Feast of St Agnes. Once these pallia are made, they are placed below the tomb of the Apostle Peter, the first pope, and are taken from there on the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul to the Pope for him to bless and distribute to the newly appointed metropolitan archbishops.

When worn, the pallium also signifies the archbishop’s role, who like Christ, carries the sheep on his shoulders. It serves to remind the wearer that all power and authority come from Jesus, the Lamb of God. It also signifies the communion between the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope, with the metropolitan archbishops and the bishops throughout the world.

Abp Poh acknowledged with gratitude the foundations laid by his predecessors, Archbishop Emeriti Peter Chung and John Ha, and pledged to continue to build up the good works begun by them.

The prelate also requested the faithful to continually pray for him to be a good shepherd after the heart of Jesus the Good Shepherd.

Over 2000 parishioners, including Abp Poh’s family and friends, witnessed the ceremony.

Concelebrating with him at the Mass were more than 40 priests, six arch/bishops and Cardinal Soter Fernandez who was making his first official visit there as a cardinal.

A thanksgiving dinner was held on July 19 on the theme  Celebrating God’s Steadfast Love. 

Also present at the event was Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, Malaysia Ambassador to the Holy See. – Today’s Catholic

Poh installed as third archbishop of Kuching

Abp Poh with his predecessors: Abp Emeritus Chung (R) and Abp Emeritus Ha (L) at the installation ceremony, St Joseph’s Cathedral Kuching, 20 Mar 2017.

KUCHING – Thousands attended the installation of Most Rev Simon Poh as third Archbishop of Kuching Archdiocese on 20 Mar 2017 at St Joseph’s Cathedral here.

Those who came included the region’s arch/bishops, local politicans, and interfaith leaders.

In his homily Abp Poh said:

This simple and noble man, St Joseph, has inspired the Kuching Archdiocese in education, in the mission school that is St Joseph School, which is now opening a St Joseph private school and St Joseph international school. St Joseph was also my school and the school for many priests here.

Holistic education for life is one of the missions that I, as Archbishop, will work with the priests, brothers, religious, and importantly lay principles, headmasters and workers especially school teachers to foster.

Joseph also worked with his hands as a carpenter and today…throughout the world, we have Labour Day; we emulate by celebrating St Joseph the worker. …It means that the Church gives dignity to work and the human persons are servants of the Lord. We are called to get our hands dirty, to open the doors of our Church and get out into the streets serving the poor and the needy.

The archdiocese of Kuching embarks on the 3R process (Review, Reassessment and Renewal.) We are going through this process by using a questionnaire. I am glad that it is also available online. We are seeking a vision of what we want our Church to be and seek ways to live this vision in our parishes.

The new archbishop invited all the faithful to bring the questionnaire to the kampungs and all corners of their parishes so that the voice of the least, the last, the lost and the little would be heard.

The prelate concluded his homily by expressing his gratitude and loyalty to Pope Francis. 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 had begun with Archbishop Emeritus Peter Chung and carried on by Archbishop John Ha.

Archbishop John Ha in his speech expressed his gratitude to the Holy Father for accepting his request to resign from the pastoral governance of the Archdiocese of Kuching and for appointing Poh as his successor.

The Diocese of Kuching was created as the Apostolic Prefecture of Sarawak by Pope Pius XI on 5 Feb  1927. On 14 February 1952, it was promoted to Apostolic Vicariate of Kuching by Pope Pius XII. Finally, it was elevated to the rank of a metropolitan archdiocese by Pope Paul VI on 31 May 1976, with the suffragan sees of Miri and Sibu.

Kuching has the largest Catholic population in the state.

There are 11 parishes, with an estimated Catholic population of 197,134. There is a mixture of various religions and languages in Kuching. Kuching’s population consists of Malays, Chinese, Iban, Bidayuh, other Bumiputras, Melanau, Indian and others. The Chinese consist of Foochow, Teochew, Hainan, Cantonese, Henghua and others. – HeraldMalaysiaonline

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