Miri Diocese celebrates 40th anniversary

The Diocese of Miri is the biggest diocese in Sarawak. It was raised to the status of a diocese on May 31, 1976.

Oct 20, 2016

By Joyce Chan
The Diocese of Miri is the biggest diocese in Sarawak. It was raised to the status of a diocese on May 31, 1976. To commemorate the 40th anniversary of this auspicious occasion, representatives from all the 11 parishes of the diocese congregated in Miri on October 3, 2016 for a Thanksgiving Mass and a Family Day.

Appropriately themed Arise, Shine out!, this 40th anniversary celebration is a reminder to the faithful not to be lax but to arise, and be Christ’s light to others, within and beyond the Church’s community.

This commemorative day began with a Thanksgiving Mass at 8.30 am at the Miri Indoor Stadium. It was attended by about 5000 faithful from all over the diocese. The presence of His Grace, Archbishop Joseph Salvador Marino, Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia, His Excellency, Right Reverend Bishop Richard Ng, Bishop of Miri, Bishop Emeritus Anthony Lee, all the priests of the diocese and 4 Mill Hill Missionary priests (2 of whom had served in the diocese in the past) added grandeur to the event. Also present were politicians YB Datuk Lee Khim Shin and YB Datuk Sebastian Ting. Commenting on the gospel reading on the story of the Good Samaritan, Bishop Richard, in his homily, said that “what defines us, as Christians, is the image of the Good Samaritan going out of his way to help a person in need.” He then challenged all present to go out of their way to help people who are in need, regardless of their creed, colour or culture. He hoped that the Church would “be characterised by our readiness to be neighbours to everyone in need.”

Later, the Bishop thanked, in particular, Archbishop Joseph Marino, “for being with us and his words of encouragement and affirmation, and through him, Pope Francis is also with us in spirit as we journey together as a local Church.” He also expressed his appreciation to Bishop Emeritus Anthony Lee, “who, for 37 years, was instrumental in guiding, shaping and building up the Diocese, in particular, spearheading the Charismatic Renewal movement which resulted in conversions and renewal in this Diocese.” He also thanked the State Government in supporting the mission of the Church by giving state land, financial grants and also issuing visas to our missionary priests. “This kind of relationship can only be found in Sarawak, so we have to protect it.” He also thanked the Mill Hill missionaries, represented by the local superior Father Terry Burke, “for supporting the Diocese with numerous committed and dedicated priests. They were the ones who provided us with most of the priests, especially during the early years of the Diocese.”

The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Joseph Marino congratulated the Diocese on this happy occasion. He reminded the faithful about the Year of Mercy and said, “In as much as this celebration is a remembrance of the past 40 years, it’s also a moment that moves and impels us to look forward, to renew our Christian faith and to bring home the love and mercy of God, which we have already received.” After the Mass ended at 10.30am, the faithful thronged the Miri Outdoor Stadium for a Family Day. The Apostolic Nuncio launched the Family Day by releasing balloons and hitting the gong 4 times — signifying the 40 years of the Diocese. Thereafter, everyone crowded around the different tents, where each parish had the opportunity to showcase their parish’s history and also their local specialities. The children had a field day as there were colouring competitions, balloon castles, cotton candy, sand painting activity, balloon folding and treasure hunt for different coloured plastic chips which they could collect to exchange for gifts.

The highlight of the Family Day was the inter-parish telematch. Each parish, led by their respective parish priest, took part in simple but fun-filled games. Laughter rang out as the faithful watched the hilarious actions of parishioners and priests.

The long day of activities came to an end at about 4.30pm with the presentation of prizes to the winners. Though physically tired, the happy smiles on the faces of the parishioners showed that it was a day well spent, for it was the first time in the Diocese’s history that the whole Diocese was able to come together as a family to have fun, games and activities.

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