Double celebrations for cardinal-designate?The local Catholic Church in Malaysia created another milestone by getting its first Cardinal.
Nov 02, 2016
The local Catholic Church in Malaysia created another milestone by getting its first Cardinal. The country’s 1.2 million Catholics rejoiced and praised God when Pope Francis, on October 9, 2016 chose Archbishop Emeritus Anthony Soter Fernandez, aged 84, as one of the 17 new cardinals coming from eleven different countries.
In fact, many Catholics have prayed for a Cardinal from Malaysia, to represent greater diversity and universality of the Catholic Church of 1.3 billion adherents. I, too, was hoping and praying and it appears our prayers were finally answered.
However, Cardinal-designate Soter, who is above the age of 80 years, can no longer vote in a conclave, to elect a new pope.
This good news comes at a time when the Peninsular Malaysia Catholic Church had just concluded the Peninsular Malaysia Pastoral Convention (PMPC) IV. Cardinal-designate Soter played an important role by establishing Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) in 1976. The local Catholic Church has indeed matured, with the appointment of a cardinal in Malaysia.
It is noted that Pope Francis will elevate the new cardinals at a formal ceremony at the Vatican, known as a consistory, on November 19, the vigil of the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Mercy on Nov 20. The Pontiff will then celebrate the concluding Mass of the Jubilee the next day with the new cardinals.
Though Cardinal-designate Soter retired as the second Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur on May 24, 2003, some 13 years ago, the Cardinalelect still keeps himself active by celebrating Mass and administering the sacraments while staying in the St Francis Xavier Home for the Elderly in Cheras.
Cardinal-designate Soter was ordained as a Bishop on February 17, 1978, some 38 years ago. And it is only fitting that he has been appointed by the Pontiff to be the first Cardinal in Malaysia, in view of his vast experience and seniority.
It will be only appropriate for the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur to celebrate this historical milestone of the first Cardinal, five centuries, after foreign missionaries first stepped foot in Malaya to spread the Good News to the locals.
The Cardinal-designate served 20 years as the second Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur (from 1983 -2003) and will be celebrating his Golden Jubilee (Sacerdotal Golden Jubilee as a priest) on December 10, 2016. The Cardinal-designate was ordained a priest on December 10, 1966.
I hope that the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur and the current Archbishop will organise a grand double Thanksgiving Mass celebration on December 10, 2016 in the Cathedral of St John the Evangelist for Cardinal-designate Soter so we can praise and thank God for blessing the local Church with a no nonsense, yet understanding and faithful Church leader — to celebrate his elevation as Cardinal and his 50 faithful years as a priest.