Bishop Cornelius Piong (C) sits on his chair between Bishop John Lee (L) and Archbishop Soter Fernandez of Kuala Lumpur (R) after the Rite of Ordination, 6 May 1993, KSFX Keningau.
KOTA KINABALU – Keningau prelate testified to God’s love, presence, and protection in his 25 years as bishop.
In a testimony released 16 Apr 2018, Bishop Cornelius Piong said:
“I know He (God) loves me because in spite of my unworthiness, He calls me to serve Him through the people He has entrusted to me to serve, Keningau Diocese.
“I know that He is with me because without Him I don’t think I can serve the people entrusted to me with joy and perseverance for 25 years in spite of the challenges that I had to go through.
“I know that He protects me from the power of sin and sustains me in spite of my weaknesses. His divine mercy always gives hope.”
Born in Kuala Penyu on 1 July 1949, Piong was ordained priest on 27 Mar 1977. He was serving at the Sacred Heart Cathedral Kota Kinabalu when he was appointed bishop of the newly created Keningau Diocese on 2 Feb 1993. His episcopal ordination and installation took place on 6 May 1993 at the Katedral St Francis Xavier Keningau.
In the past 25 years, Keningau Diocese has grown and developed by leaps and bounds. Not only has the Catholic population increased (56,852  to 135,544 ) but the diocese has become a spiritual powerhouse through its two retreat centres in Tatal and Purun and a family pilgrimage site in Nulu Sosopon. Moreover, it has many vocations to the priestly and religious life (7 priests  to 19 ); 2 religious institutes  to 5 religious institutes and 2 secular institutes ).
What has the silver jubilarian learnt about himself down the years?
“I have learnt that in spite of doubts, I need to be convinced that God loves me, cares for me, and protects me. Through prayers, His words, Eucharist and community, His call, His presence, and His protection, become a reality and a source of strength and joy in serving Him,” the prelate said.
Moreover, he continued, “I have learnt that commitment cannot be taken for granted” and that he needs to “focus and refocus on Jesus who calls, sends, and sustains me.”
This, he found, can only be done when he makes time to listen and to speak to the Lord through His word, adoration, and pastoral responsibilities in teaching, leading and sanctifying.
He acknowledged that it is the Holy Spirit who enables him to choose to serve the Lord.
“I have also learnt that on my own I am nothing. It is only in union with Jesus that I am able to be His instrument and be the channel of His presence to the people entrusted to me,” the silver jubilarian said.
He expressed his gratitude to the Lord for His divine mercy and the Holy Spirit that “enables me to be united to Him, faithful to Him and stays with Him.”
The silver jubilee celebration will begin with a dinner at 6:30 pm at the Dewan Keluarga Kudus Pusat Ziarah Keluarga Kudus Nulu Sosopon on Friday, May 4, and ends with a fellowship at Dewan MPP Katedral SFX Keningau after the Thanksgiving Mass at 10 am at Dewan Solidariti Dataran Keuskupan Keningau on Saturday, May 5.