A joyful golden jubilee for Archbishop Pakiam

“It is a great joy to celebrate this Thanksgiving Mass to the Lord for 50 years service in my ministry,” said Archbishop Emeritus Murphy Pakiam on May 13 at the Cathedral of St John.

May 23, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR (Herald Malaysia): “It is a great joy to celebrate this Thanksgiving Mass to the Lord for 50 years service in my ministry,” said Archbishop Emeritus Murphy Pakiam on May 13 at the Cathedral of St John.

Archbishop Emeritus Pakiam presided at his 50th anniversary of the Sacerdotal Ordination Thanksgiving Mass that was concelebrated with Archbishop William Goh from Singapore, Bishop Paul Tan from Melaka-Johor Diocese, Bishop Sebastian Francis from Penang Diocese, Bishop Emeritus James Chan and Bishop Emeritus Bishop Antony Selvanayagam

From around the Archdiocese and elsewhere, some 2,400 faithful were present together with some 73 priests, a seminarian, a deacon, several religious brothers and sisters, ambassadors and VIPs who came to thank the Lord for the gift of Archbishop Emeritus Pakiam, his service as a priest and bishop for the past 50 years in the Diocese of Penang and later in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur.

Bishop Sebastian in his homily said that during this wonderful Eastertide, the Risen Lord is preparing His apostles to be witnesses to the truth. On Vocation Sunday last week, the prelate asked, ‘What is the truth about the priesthood of Jesus Christ in the New Testament in the Catholic Church?’ He then asked the assembly to thank God for this grace filled celebration of the 50th anniversary of Murphy Pakiam as Father, Bishop and Archbishop.

“The Priest stands at the altar in the Person of Christ the Head. This means the priest does not merely act on behalf of Christ, but on his ordination the priest ministers in the Person of Christ, beginning at the altar and moving beyond.” Bishop Sebastian quoted the Gospel Reading, saying ‘to lay down one’s life for the sheep,’ shows the extent and commitment of the priest to his people. No servant will lay down his life for his master, but the priest, he is chosen, and sent for this mission, to lay down his life for Christ. All those in service and ministries in the Church should take Christ as their model.

Bishop Sebastian said that more than service, it is from the sacrifice of Christ that the priest finds strength. In the priesthood the temptation is to think that he is only accountable to Jesus. Not so. The priest is sent on mission by the Bishop, under Peter, the first Pope.

The prelate advised priests not to fall into the temptation of individualism and subjectivism. The prelate also explained why priests must act in the Person of Christ, the Head. Christ, the Head, carries upon Himself the faults and sins of the people. So too, priests are called to take upon themselves the faults of the people and ask for forgiveness at the altar, he said.

For Archbishop Emeritus Pakiam, though retired, his mission continues until the day God calls him.

As May 13 is also the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Bishop Sebastian thanked Mother Mary, and prayed that all of us, as well as priests, serve the poor and sick, for they have a special place in the Church. Salute all children too because they keep alive the vision of tomorrow.

After the Mass, Msgr James Gnanapiragasam and Archbishop Emeritus Pakiam gave their speeches. This was followed by a lunch fellowship for all in the cathedral’s grounds. As a memento of this special golden jubilee, a Prayer Card was distributed to all. Many of the faithful also met Archbishop Emeritus at the entrance of the cathedral to personally wish him and congratulate him. -- By Bernard Anthony

The HERALD ‘Allah’ Case
In 2007, Archbishop Pakiam filed for a judicial review after HERALD was ordered to stop using the Arabic word ‘Allah’ in its publication by the Malaysian government. In 2009, the High Court overturned the government’s ban of the word.

He made a strong stand in October 2013 after the Court of Appeal oveturned a landmark 2009 High Court judgment that ruled ‘Allah’ was not exclusive to Muslims, and effectively secured Christians the right to call their god using the Arabic word.

He had said that denying Malay-speaking Christians the right to call their god ‘Allah’ in their worship and in the Al-Kitab is tantamount to persecution.

Called, chosen and sent by God

Murphy Nicholas Xavier Pakiam was born in Tapah in 1938 on the feast of St Nicholas. Named after a well-known Jesuit priest in Loyola College in Madras, the young Murphy received his early education in Sultan Yusuf School in Batu Gajah. He entered the minor seminary in 1955 and three years later moved to College General in Penang for his priestly formation.

He was ordained on May 10, 1964 and served as assistant priest at St. Louis Church, Taiping. He was subsequently posted to St. Francis Xavier’s parish in Penang in 1965 and then to Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Silibin in Ipoh in 1967. In 1970 he became parish priest.

He completed a Masters in Moral Theology in Rome and upon his return in 1974, became a lecturer in College General, and four years later was appointed Rector in 1978. After two terms as Rector he left in 1989 for Manila to do a Masters in Guidance and Counselling and on his return was appointed parish priest of the Church of Nativity, Butterworth.

On October 4, 1995 he was ordained Bishop and on May 29, 2003 installed as the third Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur at the age of 65.

In March 2007, Archbishop Murphy Pakiam together with 18 other members was appointed to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID).

He was also appointed advisor to Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.

Archbishop Murphy retired upon having reached the age of 75 on December 6, 2013. In accordance with Church law (Canon 401), he submitted his resignation on the same day.

An inspiration and a Church icon

“Being present for the Holy Mass of the 50th Anniversary of Priesthood of Archbishop Murphy Pakiam was an experience, which is not to be forgotten. This was the my first time participating in a priests’s golden jubilee celebration and this reminds me of our own calling in our lives. No matter what you are called to be, a priest, religious, celibate or married, each one of us has a huge responsibility in every call in our lives. For me, this Mass is also a way to express our gratitude to the Lord that has blessed us and enabled us to walk together with our priests in their ministry as the heads of the church.

“When I learnt about Archbishop Murphy Pakiam’s retirement, I felt a bit shocked and sad about losing someone who inspired me to love and serve God with all my heart. Moreover, I admire, and respect him, particularly as he is always trying to find a way to overcome the problems and challenges faced by the Church in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur.

“I met him few years ago, when I was active in the ministry at the Church of St Anthony. His gentle, friendly, yet firm way with the people are among the factors that made him to be loved and liked by the people in the community. Personally, I also feel so blessed and proud that I got to know him and feel that he is like my own father.

“I still remember, every time my husband and I meet him and ask for his blessings, he always gives a sweet, big smile while saying our names clearly, “Monalisa and Pairin”.

“In addition, Archbishop Murphy, always reminds us not to forget to fulfill our responsibility as Malaysians to vote with wisdom.

“For me, he is one of the church’s icons, who is trying to win the case of ‘Allah’ so that the HERALD will be able to continue to use the word.

“I will pray for Archbishop Murphy that God will always bless him abundantly with strength and courage in his ministry and in whatever he does. God bless!” -- Monalisa Charles Alidin, Church of St Anthony

Some Sharings

“My uncle (Archbishop Emeritus Murphy Pakiam) truly is remarkable. He has touched the lives of many people through his spirituality.


“The celebration today (May 13) at Cathedral of St John was inspiring — look at his life’s work in God’s ministry of the Church.

“Ten of us (including myself) came from Singapore for the celebration.” -- Desiree Pakiam, Church of the Holy Family, Singapore


“The celebration of the Thanksgiving Mass on May 13 at the Cathedral was wonderful. It made me recall the old days in Silibin parish when, at that time, Archbishop Emeritus Pakiam was the parish priest. Back then Fr Pakiam got along well with his parishioners — a caring and wonderful priest, a person who thinks about children and youths.

“Fr Pakiam was the main person responsible for teaching and guiding me as a lay leader (1968-1974) and I’m proud to say that he has partly assisted me to be what I am today — a lecturer. He has assisted me during my younger days in college.

“Today, I still find Archbishop Emeritus Pakiam a humble and approachable person and wish to express my thanks to God for giving us such a nice Priest/ Bishop.” -- Arokiasamy Santiago, Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, KL


“It is an honour to come for the celebration today. It is not everyday that we can celebrate a priest’s golden jubilee and I wanted to be part of the celebration.” -- Jerome Lim, a Sarawakian studying in Terengganu


“It was great and special Mass to celebrate and thank God for a holy man who marked his 50th anniversary as an ordained priest. Archbishop Emeritus Pakiam cares for his sheep and is a good shepherd. I really appreciate his contribution to the local Church and pray that he will have many more years with us. I also wish to thank the organiser for this special Thanksgiving Mass that is so meaningful.”-- Celestine Lee, Cathedral of St John, KL


“A beautiful celebration, is how I sum it up.

Archbishop Emeritus Murphy Pakiam has given a truly dedicated service to the people for 50 glorious years — wonderful and extra-ordinary. The spiritual guidance given by him to the Penang Diocese as a priest and as Bishop to the Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese, is simply great.” - Andrew Pereira, Church of Our Lady of Fatima, Brickfields, KL


“I wanted to see the Archbishop... his postures, gestures and how he interacts with the community.In my opinion, the archbishop has a great responsibility to the Church and the community and I can see that it is not an easy task.” -- Alvin Julai, A Sarawakian studying in Terengganu

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