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TANJUNG ARU – Archbishop John Wong ordained the first-ever Franciscan Friar to the ministerial priesthood on 23 January 2016 at the Stella Maris Church here. In a simple yet solemn ceremony, Friar Francisco Jude Basnayake was ordained a priest of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM). Present were Abp Emeritus John Lee, Provincial Minister Friar Paul Smith of the Holy Spirit Province (Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia), Custos Friar John Wong of St Anthony Custody of Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei, several friars, local and foreign diocesan priests, and some 700 faithful.
The rite of ordination began after the gospel reading with the election of the candidate, followed by the homily where the duties of the priest are explained. The presider then questioned the elect on his readiness to enter the priesthood; after the elect had affirmed his readiness he made his promise of respect and obedience to the diocesan bishop and his legitimate superior. The Litany of the Saints was then chanted followed by the laying on of hands and the prayer of ordination. The neo-ordained was then vested with the stole and chasuble by his parents. The hands of the neo-ordained were anointed with chrism by the prelate. Family members brought the gifts to the sanctuary, including the paten holding the bread and a chalice containing the wine. The prelate presented the paten and chalice to the neo-ordained, signifying that he can now offer the Eucharist for the people. The rite ends with the prelate giving the fraternal hug to the neo-ordained who then took his seat among the concelebrants in the sanctuary.
In his speech, Abp Wong said the ordination was historical because it was the first ordination of a Franciscan friar in the archdiocese. He mentioned that although Fr Valentine Gampok ofmcap is also a Franciscan friar, he was ordained in Tambunan.
In turn, Friar Paul Smith expressed the hope that this ordination would be followed by many others since the congregation has 10 other Sabahan members in various stages of formation.
Friar Francisco, in his speech, thanked all those involved in making possible his ordination in his home parish of Stella Maris Tg Aru, where he grew up, where he had served as an altar server in his younger years, where he was once a member of the Boys Brigade.
After Mass the people adjourned to the parish hall for the reception. Friar Francisco celebrated his thanksgiving Mass at 6:00 pm Stella Maris Tg Aru on Jan 23 and his second Mass at the 8:30 am Mass at St Simon Likas on Jan 24.
The 35-year-old neo-ordained is the sixth child in a brood of nine girls and two boys born to Basil and Debbie Ann Basnayake in Semporna. He grew up in Penampang/Papar/Putatan but served as an altar boy in Stella Maris Tg Aru. He completed his secondary school at SM Bahang and SM Peter Mojuntin in Penampang. He was a working student, working with the CISCO Police in Singapore while studying at the same time. He entered the Order of the Friars Minor in Singapore in 2005, and made his solemn profession in 2013.