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Over 6000 witness episcopal ordination of Fr Richard Ng

MIRI – It was a historical day for the people in the Diocese of Miri as they witnessed the Episcopal ordination of their second Bishop. More than six thousand people crammed into the Miri Indoor Stadium to witness Bishop Richard Ng being ordained and installed as the new head of the Diocese of Miri.

Bishop Emeritus Anthony Lee, whom he replaces, was the principal consecrator. He was assisted by Archbishop John Ha Tiong Hock of Kuching and Bishop Joseph Hii of Sibu.  The Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia, Archbishop Joseph Marino, together with archbishops, bishops, and priests from around Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Kalimantan, and Taiwan were also in attendance at this historic event.

In his homily, Bishop Emeritus Lee reminded Bishop Ng to ‘strive to serve rather than to rule’, and to ‘be a faithful overseer and guardian.’ This was echoed in the message by Pope Francis, which was read by Archbishop Joseph Marino. In it, the Pope advised Bishop Ng and all other bishops and priests to care for the people as how a shepherd would care for his flock.

“To do so, the bishop will sometimes go before the people, pointing the way and keeping their hopes high. At times, he will simply be in their midst with his unassuming merciful presence. And yet at other times, he will have to walk behind them, in order to help those who are left behind, and above all, to see if there are any sheep that is losing direction.”  According to Archbishop Marino, Pope Francis also asked the bishops in Malaysia to always have their doors open to their priests, “The doors must be kept opened 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.  I pray also that Bishop Ng will be like that good shepherd.”  At the same time, Catholics in Miri Diocese were also urged to support their newly ordained bishop.

Bishop Ng, in his address to the congregation, thanked God for choosing him to be bishop of Miri, though he felt unworthy. He also believed that God would give him the grace and wisdom to do God’s work well. He also asked the Apostolic Nuncio to convey his love and gratitude to the Pope for his confidence and trust in him, and that he is welcome to visit. Bishop Ng also thanked all who have come to witness the ordination, and especially those who have to spend so much to come from the rural parishes of ulu Baram, ulu Belaga, Limbang, Lawas, and others that he does know of yet.

For many of the local Catholic faithful, it was an experience of a lifetime, as the last time an episcopal ordination took place in the diocese was that of Bishop Emeritus Anthony Lee Nov 20, 1977, more than 36 years ago. The Diocese of Miri covers the northern part of Sarawak, starting from Bintulu to Miri, and all the way to the Limbang division. It is one of the most ethnically diverse dioceses in Malaysia, with Ibans, Chinese, Melanau, Kayan and other Orang Ulu tribes making up the Catholic population. –  Sem Joshua Liew

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