Daily Archives:March 2nd, 2018

KK prelate says he was awestruck by significance of ad limina visit

KUALA LUMPUR – Archbishop John Wong of Kota Kinabalu said that he was awestruck by the significance of such a visit (ad limina) to the Pope, who is the Head of the Catholic Church.

He spoke of the Pope receiving the Bishops with “brotherly affection” and was touched that the Holy Father made it a point to greet them.

“I had in my mind, in my imagination if you please, a picture of the early Apostles going out to preach and after some time coming back to visit Peter,” said Abp Wong.

“I was very much looking forward to it (ad limina), and I have not been disappointed. In fact, I am much encouraged by our making it,” said the prelate.

He added, “I have this sense of unity and peace that comes from a distinctive union with Pope Francis as the Head of the Church.”

The Holy Father’s gentleness, humility and simplicity struck the bishops at their meeting with him, Abp Wong said.

He said of the pope, “He’s very down to earth. He puts aside protocol and formality, telling us ‘We are brothers’ and so there was no need to remove our skull caps nor to kiss his ring, putting us completely at ease.”

As part of the ad limina, several meetings were arranged for the bishops to meet with the heads of the dicasteries of the curia.

Besides discussions with the Dicastery for Promoting Human Development, the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, the bishops also met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, the Legislative, and Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. Archbishop John Wong described these meetings as “a new and more concrete way of reaching out to help the faithful.” He picked up from these meetings with the dicastery heads that the dicasteries are very committed to

Abp Wong described these meetings as “a new and more concrete way of reaching out to help the faithful.” He picked up from these meetings with the dicastery heads that the dicasteries are very committed to help the bishops in meeting their challenges in their dioceses.

The archbishop opined that these meetings were beneficial and effective to the bishops.

He remarked on the functionality of the new procedure of the ad limina in which the bishops met with the Holy Father as a group. All were encouraged to speak and share spontaneously, whether generally or specifically. It was a revealing moment to see how much the Holy Father’s heart is for the people. He listened attentively to the various issues pertinent to the dioceses, and his response was unscripted and came straight from his heart.

On a personal note, Abp Wong wished him “good health” and pledged “our faithfulness and loyalty to him,” assuring him of “our constant prayers for him.” At the conclusion of the meeting, Pope Francis told the bishops, “Your first duty, as Bishops, is to pray for the diocese, and for the priests.”

The Pope urged them to “continue to move on” and ended with his customary request for prayer for himself “Pray for me, not against me.” – Catholic Sabah

Malaysian cardinal shares on a visit made by the bishops to his parish in Rome

In the ad limina visit by the Bishops Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei on 4-9 Feb 2018, Cardinal Soter Fernandes shares on the visit the bishops made to his parish in Rome.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei made a visit to my parish, Sant’Alberto Magno, on Wednesday, February 7, during their recent Ad Limina visit to Rome.

Archbishop Julian Leow was the main celebrant and all of us concelebrated at the Eucharistic Celebration which was in Italian.

After the Mass, there was a simple reception, where we met with the parishioners, who are mostly elderly folks.

There was an Indian Capuchin priest, Father Jonathan, who was also with us. He presented a beautiful golden shawl to the priest there, Msgr Donato Perron.

On Feb 8, we met Pope Francis for two hours. He was very welcoming and perceptive. Midway through our discussions, he got up to serve water to the translator, a Nigerian priest.

Pope Francis is not cowed by anything because he is a man of God, a man of prayer. He has discernment of the spirit and is doing the right things. – Herald Malaysia, 28 Feb 2018

Kuching prelate shares a memorable moment in his ad limina visit to the Holy See

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

Keningau bishop calls ad limina visit a ‘blessed moment’

Bishop Cornelius Piong was one of the bishops of the Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Bishops Conference who went for the ad limina visit to the Holy See on 4-9 Feb 2018. For him it was a “blessed moment.”

This Ad Limina touched me in a very personal way because this year, 2018, is the Silver Jubilee of the Keningau Diocese.

In remembering and reflecting on our journey together in Jesus Christ for twenty-five years, we would like to thank Jesus who loves us, be with us and protect us (Jn 3:16, Mt 1: 21-23).

We also want to express our gratitude to the Holy Spirit because He is our helper. He teaches us and He reminds us of the teachings of Jesus (Jn 14:26). By His power, the priests, religious and lay people are able to walk together in the spirit of unity, wisdom and holiness (John 17). I am also convinced that the guidance and prayers of Mother Mary since the early Church are a source of protection for us, His People (Acts 1:14).

In our meeting as Malaysian-Singapore-Brunei Bishops with the Pope on Feb 8, the Holy Father stressed on the importance of praying and to believe in the mercy of God who is always with us in the ministry. The meeting, together with Cardinal Soter Fernandez and Pope Francis, took nearly two hours. Every Bishop expressed his wishes to the Pope spontaneously. At the meeting, the Pope also emphasised that family members, parents and children, faithfully live in unity and communicate with each other face-to-face and be on guard for the negative influence of today’s electronic media.

As the Bishop of Keningau Diocese, I told the Pope that we, the people of God in Keningau Diocese, will celebrate our Silver Jubilee on May 5 this year. I have conveyed the greetings of the priests, religious, and laity to him, telling Pope Francis that the people of God in Keningau Diocese have been walking together in Jesus Christ, guided by the Pastoral Theme Christ-centred family to worship God strengthen Faith and social responsibility.

I also asked the Pope to pray for our preparation and celebration of the Silver Jubilee of Keningau Diocese.

I believe that the prayer and guidance of Mother Mary have made all matters possible throughout our Ad Limina journey and also through the company of the Malaysian Ambassador to the Vatican, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, and his staff.   – Herald Malaysia, 28 Feb 2018

Sandakan bishop gives his take on ad limina visit

The Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei made their ad limina visit to the Holy See on 4-9 Feb 2018. Below is the reflection of Bishop Julius Gitom of Sandakan on the visit.

I am very grateful to God for the Ad Limina visit by the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei recently. The Ad Limina visit is the opportunity for bishops to personally inform the Holy Father about the development of the local Church and vice versa, also the opportunity for the Holy Father to give encouragement and advice to the Bishops.

Ten years ago, in my first Ad Limina visit in 2008, I met the Holy Father Benedict XVI. That was more “formal” compared with the recent visit. At that time, we were given ten to fifteen minutes to meet the Holy Father personally. It is very good that the bishops can personally speak to the Holy Father but, at the same time, there is not much that can be said as the time given is limited.

This time it was quite different because it was not too ‘formal.’ We met the Holy Father as a group for an hour and a half. What touched me during the meeting was when he said, ‘You are all co-workers in God’s vineyard, so you can say anything; you can ask anything; you can criticise the Dicasteries you have visited and may make suggestions to improve them.’

The meeting with the Holy Father was open, friendly, calm, relaxed, not tense. Every bishop in the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei had the opportunity to say something calmly though there were issues that were rather sensitive. The issues raised not only concerned global issues but also those that have a negative impact on the Church in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

“The Holy Father was very happy to know that every diocese in the Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei have their own migrant ministry. He said, ‘Migrants must be seen as human beings. Therefore, they must be accepted by any and all as persons.’

For me personally, the Holy Father is ‘the Shepherd by the example of Christ;’ he really loves and cares for the sheep he has been entrusted with. He is the true Church leader of Christ. When we were in front of him, we could feel him radiating Christ’s love without saying anything. He is the role model and inspiration in the Church of Christ.

I also had the privilege of presenting our Diocesan Vision and Mission Statement to the Holy Father.

Pope Francis was pleased to acknowledge the Statement and advised that the Statement has to be put into practice.

He also gave us, the prelates pastoral tips on prayer by saying, ‘when we pray and act upon it, we are actually revealing the face of Jesus. – Herald Malaysia, 1 Mar 2018

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