Sudden demise of a friendly Priest, Fr Phillips Muthu

Known lovingly as a friend to all, Rev Fr Phillips Muthu of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur passed away unexpectedly on September 10 in Kemaman after suffering a heart attack.

Sep 16, 2016

By Patricia Pereira
Known lovingly as a friend to all, Rev Fr Phillips Muthu of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur passed away unexpectedly on September 10 in Kemaman after suffering a heart attack.

The death of the 56-year-old priest is not only a great loss to the Catholic community of Terengganu, where he has been serving since July 2011, but also to the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur as a whole.

A thanksgiving Mass was celebrated at the Chapel of St Philip Minh in Chukai, Kemaman on September 11 before his remains were brought to the Church of St Jude in Rawang. In addition to ongoing prayers, Mass was celebrated at 11 am and 8 pm on September 12. The funeral Mass was held on September 13 followed by burial at the Kajang Catholic cemetery.

Ordained on May 1, 1990 at the Church of St Jude Rawang, Fr Phillips who celebrated the silver jubilee of his priestly ordination last year, was the first ‘son’ of Rawang to be ordained a priest.

After his ordination, he was assigned to the Church of St Anthony in Pudu as assistant parish priest, where he subsequently became parish priest and served till 1993. His next three-year tenure was at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Port Dickson followed by a two-year service as parish priest at the Church of St John Vianney in Tampin.

In 2003, Fr Phillips was appointed as the parish priest of the Church of the Assumption in Petaling Jaya where he started the Soup Kitchen to feed the poor. He was also instrumental in setting up the Catholic Business Fraternity with Fr Simon Labrooy. Later with Fr Patrick Boudville he mooted for its inclusion as a ministry under the Archdiocese; both were appointed as ecclesiastical assistants in 2015.

For the next five years, until the time of his demise, Fr Phillips untiringly served the Catholic community in Terengganu. As with the priests who had served there before him, he made the weekly commute from the Catholic Mission in Kuala Terengganu to celebrate Mass, as well as see to the pastoral and spiritual needs of the community in Dungun and Kemaman. It was in Kemaman that he completed his final duty as a priest, conducting faith formation classes for the youth and children and celebrating the Children’s Mass just hours before his untimely demise later that evening.

Throughout his 26 years in the priesthood, Fr Phillips served in various capacities in the archdiocese. As one of the first directors of the Archdiocesan Single Adults and Youth Office (ASAYO), he initiated the local youth delegates to the World Youth Day celebration in the early 90s. He also served as chancellor and secretary to Archbishop Anthony Soter Fernandez from 1992 to 1993.

For more than a decade, Fr Phillips has been on the College of Consultors in the Archdiocese in addition to being a member of the Archdiocesan Finance Committee.

Since 2002, having obtained his Licentiate in Canon Law from the Urbaniana University in Rome and subsequently completing his Jurisprudence, he has been serving as an official of the Peninsular Malaysia Ecclesiastical Tribunal.

Many people, including the clergy, expressed their shock at the sudden demise of Fr Phillips who had just returned from the World Youth Day celebrations in Poland. His postings, photos and videos on Facebook provided an opportunity for everyone to ‘experience’ the celebrations in the comfort of their own home.

Fr Phillips is also well remembered for his daily Gospel reflections via Facebook which have garnered a huge following. The outpouring of grief by the Catholic community via social media is certainly a testament to this extraordinary servant of God who has carried out his duties lovingly and faithfully to the end.

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