The Journey

Archbishop Emeritus John Ha first mooted the idea of a Pan Malaysian Convention during the Peninsular Malaysia Pastoral Convention (PMPC) IV in Oct 2-5, 2016.

Jan 26, 2019

Malaysian Catholic Clergy Assembly:DAY 1

Archbishop Emeritus John Ha first mooted the idea of a Pan Malaysian Convention during the Peninsular Malaysia Pastoral Convention (PMPC) IV in Oct 2-5, 2016.

At the PMPC IV, the Assembly had endorsed the Bumiputera character of the Malaysian Church and the call to build bridges between the Semenanjung, Sabah and Sarawak Catholic Churches.

The Malaysian Bishops were united in this and agreed to hold the first Malaysian Clergy Convention in 2018 at the Malaysian Bishops Meeting, held from Dec 13-15, 2016.

The rationale for the convention:
a. Fostering a greater understanding of and familiarisation with the East-West Malaysia’s, uniqueness and diversity
b. Addressing the realities associated with the migratory movements of people as one Malaysian Clergy
c. Reflecting on the One Malaysian Church

The Thrust
It was decided that the Convention would be held from July 16-20, 2018 at the Majodi Centre in Johor Baru, and all diocesan clergy and religious priests involved in pastoral ministries in the nine arch/dioceses would be invited to participate.

A meeting of the initiators had been held on Jan 11, 2017. Three bishops represented Peninsular Malaysia (Bishop Bernard Paul), Sabah (Bishop Julius Dusin) and Sarawak (Bishop Richard Ng). A preliminary report to the Malaysian Bishops was given on Jan 12. Each bishop named one diocesan representative to be in the Central Working Committee (CWC).

A questionnaire was circulated to gather feedback from the clergy on these items: possible themes for the First MCC, possible study topics or inputs, possible areas of pastoral concern, possible approaches or activities or dynamics for this convention. The diocesan representatives had to compile and collate the feedback and send it to Bishop Bernard by May 30, 2017.

The first meeting of the CWC was held from June 6-8, 2017, at Majodi. The CWC then planned a more detailed programme and sub committees were formed.

“Hari ini dalam sejarah”
“Hari Ini Dalam Sejarah.” That was how Kuala Lumpur Arch Bishop Julian Leow, the President of the Malaysian Bishops’ Conference, began his welcome address at the 1st Malaysian Catholic Clergy Assembly in Majodi Centre, Plentong, Johor Bahru, from July 16 to 21, 2018.

It was truly a historical moment for the Malaysian Catholic Church, where 281 clergy, comprising bishops, priests and deacons from the nine (arch) dioceses in Malaysia gathered in discernment, prayer and fellowship.

May they all be one, just as Father, You are in Me and I am in You, so that the world may believe it was You who sent Me (John 17:21). This high priestly prayer of Jesus in the Gospel of John was the theme of the assembly. In his address at the opening Mass, Archbishop Joseph Marino, the Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia, highlighted the call to follow Jesus in our humanity as priests and to be conscious of the struggles of the people of God. He added that the Malaysian Church must continue to be a welcoming Church and a sign of love after the heart of Jesus.

The Opening Day Homily By Archbishop Joseph Marino, Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia

Discipleship, the paradigm of priestly identity and ministry

“Before we can even consider ourselves priests, we are first to be called disciples of our Lord, his followers.” Archbishop Joseph Marino said this in his homily at the Opening Mass of the Malaysia Catholic Clergy Assembly (MCCA).

“Discipleship will be the paradigm of our priestly identity and ministry. Jesus spoke these words right after Peter’s confession expressed the profession of our faith: You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Those words represent the turning point of discipleship because, before he was able to profess his faith, Peter, along with the others, had been with Jesus every day, listening to him, observing him and slowly being able to penetrate into his identity.

“The profession of faith: You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God in turn becomes the basis for our vocation as disciples. In other words, Jesus is saying, ‘if you know who I am, and if you truly believe in me, then you have to be like me. You have to live like me. And if you want to follow me, you have to take up your cross’.

“Jesus becomes the first disciple because he did whatever the Father told him to do. Obedient even unto death, death on a cross.” Now the disciples are told to do the same. Follow the Lord to Jerusalem, and take up their crosses.

“Dear brother priests, we are gathered to spend the next few days together to reflect upon the great gift of our vocation — disciples as priests. The words of Jesus stated in the gospel are addressed to us today. If you are my disciples and if you are true priests, you must take up the cross and follow Me. “In this command given by Jesus, there are two considerations:

“First, Jesus is not asking us to do anything that he has not been asked to do by the Father. He can make this radical command because he took up his cross in obedience to the will of the Father. For Jesus, everything in his life became secondary to that command of the Father, even leaving his own family. “When found in the temple at a young age, he said, ‘Did you not know that this is why I came into the world, to do the Father’s business?’ When asked what he should eat, he said, ‘My food is to do the will of my Father.’ And on that solemn night when he was betrayed, He said, ‘let us go, this is why I came into the world’.

“It is the very identity of Jesus to do the will of the Father by taking up his cross.

“The second consideration addressed is, take up your cross. Is the cross that we take up, that Jesus commands us to take up, the cross of Jesus? It is not some invention on our part, not some type of artificial sacrifice, not some superficial attitude of self denial, not some neurotic behaviour of self debasement. No, it is the cross of Jesus which can be understood by two significant words from Romans 5:8, Jesus died for us. These words explain the meaning of the cross for us. “Jesus did not take up the cross to prove his greatness, to deny himself his life, which he did. He took up the cross for us in absolute love. In obedience to the Father’s command. He gave everything and that which was most important, his life for us.

“The cross today becomes our cross. The reality is placing ourselves in full service to other people, to never hold back, to never calculate, but to give totally, to undo our selfishness and our hesitation.

“And let us never think that the cross of living for others is easy. No, it is demanding, it is challenging because, ultimately, as disciples, as priests, we live not for ourselves, nor for power or for prestige or for position or for authority. We lay it all on the line for others.

“It is not easy. Consider the journey to Jerusalem. In the early stages of discipleship, we see large crowds following our Lord. At one point, the Gospel said 5,000 people. We see enthusiasm, great expectations that He would be the one to set them free from the political tyranny of the Romans. We hear shouts of exultation and praise.

But when we arrive at Calvary and stand beneath the cross today, 2,000 years later, we find only three people – his mother, another woman and his beloved disciple John. “By the way, 67 per cent of the Church’s disciples are women. “This scene, standing beneath the cross, is an icon of discipleship. The image of what it means to be a true disciple, to follow Jesus to Calvary. “This call to discipleship, my brothers, and our call to priesthood, a specific type of discipleship, comes from the Lord.

“I will never forget the words that His Eminence Cardinal Jean Louis Tuaran, the former President of the Council for Inter religious Dialogue, gave to me when he ordained me Archbishop. He said, ‘Remember dear Joseph, you are not a gracious volunteer to the office to which you will be ordained. No. It is Christ, the Chief Shepherd, who calls you and who sends you.

“That is the meaning of discipleship. It is Christ who Calls, Sends and Demands that we embrace the cross – living for others. That defines who we are. Let us then, my brothers, never hesitate in fulfilling our vocation as disciples given already to us at baptism and raised to the level of priesthood when we are ordained.

“Let us live only for the people entrusted to our fraternal care. Let us never hesitate to give all for the sake of those who are searching for the love and mercy of God.

“Let Mary be our model, and let us listen to her words at Cana, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ That is our command. In order for us to live (the carrying of this cross), we need to be united with our Lord in the Eucharist.”


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