JOHOR BAHRU – The Catholic community in Melaka-Johor Diocese welcomed Bishop Bernard Paul in a ceremony that has not been seen here for more than a decade.
Bishop Bernard Paul is the diocese’s third bishop. He takes over from Bishop Emeritus Paul Tan Chee Ing, whose resignation was accepted by Pope Francis on 19 Nov 2015. He is the second priest from the Diocese of Penang to be ordained as the Bishop of Melaka-Johor Diocese.
In a span of 60 years, the Penang Diocese, besides Bishop Bernard Paul, has given five other priests to be ordained arch/bishops in other diocese including the Archdiocese of Singapore. They are: the late Bishop Francis Chan, the late Archbishop Gregory Yong, Bishop Emeritus James Chan, Archbishop Emeritus Anthony Soter Fernandez and Archbishop Emeritus Murphy Xavier Pakiam.
Bishop Bernard Paul’s ordination ceremony was steeped in tradition and saw 17 Arch/bishops and 200 priests, religious and deacons from the region, together with 3,500 laity participating at the Johor Persada convention centre here on 12 Jan 2016.
Also present was the Vatican Apostolic Nuncio (Ambassador) to Malaysia, Archbishop Joseph Marino.
Bishop Emeritus Paul Tan Chee Ing, SJ, was the principal consecrator, with Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim of Kuala Lumpur and Bishop Sebastian Francis of Penang as coconsecrators.
The Rite of Ordination took place following the Liturgy of the Word during which the Veni Sancte Spiritus hymn was sung. The Apostolic Letter and Consent of the People was then read.
Fr Christopher Lee, the Chancellor of the Melaka-Johor Diocese, read the papal mandate appointing Msgr Bernard Paul, from the Diocese of Penang, as the third Bishop of MelakaJohor.
In his homily, Bishop Emeritus Paul Tan said, “As a father and a brother, love all those whom God places in your care. Love the priests and deacons who share with you the ministry of Christ. Love the poor and the infirm, strangers and the homeless. Encourage the faithful to work with you in your apostolic task; listen willingly to what they have to say.”
At the end of the ordination rite, the investiture ceremony, saw the new bishop receive the symbols of his office — bishop’s ring, the mitre (ceremonial head-dress) and the staff (crozier). Much like a wedding ring, the bishop’s ring is a symbol of the relationship between the bishop and the Church, and his promise of faithful and self-offering service.
Having received these symbols, Bishop Bernard was then led by Bishop Emeritus Tan and Archbishop Joseph Marino to sit in the bishop’s chair for the first time. This is symbolic of the teaching office which the new bishop now holds, and his entry into the college of bishops.
This was followed by the kiss of peace from all the arch/bishops present.
At the end of the Mass, the new bishop was led round the congregation that had gathered, to bless them for the first time.
In his address, Archbishop Marino called on the new bishop to undertake the mandate of teaching, governing and sanctifying the people of the Melaka-Johor diocese and to take these sentiments of Pope Francis as a template for the Episcopal ministry which he has begun.
In his inaugural address to the gathering, Bishop Bernard said, “Today we record our heartfelt thanks to him (Bishop Emeritus Paul Tan) for being a part of the Melaka-Johor Diocese’s journey and history.”
Bishop Bernard then shared on what his misison would be. “Love what the Lord loves … though we may not like everything.
“My dear friends, that is what we are called to do. I pray that I may love everything even if I do not like it.”
He then thanked everyone who had come to offer their support and prayers.
The history of the Melaka-Johor Diocese has seen Emeritus Bishop James Chan being ordained in 1973 as the first bishop, followed by Bishop Paul Tan in 2003, and now the episcopal ordination of Bishop Bernard Paul. – Adapted from Herald