“Our Lenten theme Ignite Hope, is a call to be…
TANJUNG ARU – Stella Maris Parish here has the honour to host the second sacerdotal ordination of a religious priest during this Year of Mercy. The first – presbyteral ordination of Francisco Basnayake ofm by Archbishop John Wong – took place on January 23.
Deacon Robin Lomangkok, 38, of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorist=CSsR) was ordained priest by Abp John Wong on 1 August 2016. Concelebrating with him were Abp Emeritus John Lee, Msgr Primus Jouil, twelve Redemptorist priests including Vice Provincial Fr Eugene Fernandez of the Vice-province of Ipoh (Malaysia-Singapore), and several local diocesan priests. The Redemptorists came from West Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. Also in attendance was Deacon Francis Vijayan CSsR. The Masters of Ceremonies were Fr Gerard Louis and Fr Eugene Lee of the Redemptorist Community. About a thousand came to witness the ceremony despite the inclement weather which cleared before the Mass.
The Rite of Ordination began after the gospel proclamation by Deacon Francis. After being called by the formator, the vice-provincial presented the candidate to Abp Wong and officially proposed him for ordination. After the election, the prelate gave the homily on the duties and responsibilites of the priesthood. Then the elect made his promise to discharge the priestly responsibilities and obedience to the diocesan bishop and legitimate superior.
The elect then prostrated himself during the chanting of the Litany of the Saints. The faithful stood during the laying on of hands by the prelate, followed by all the priests present, in silence. The prayer of ordination followed. One of the priests helped the parents of the newly ordained to arrange the stole in the manner proper to priests and to put on the chasuble. After the investiture with stole and chasuble, the new priest knelt before the prelate for the anointing of hands with holy chrism.
The parents then brought forward the paten holding the bread and the chalice containing the wine mixed with water for the celebration of Mass. The deacon received them and brought them to the prelate, who placed them in the hands of the neo-ordained as he knelt before him. The rite ended with the fraternal embrace by the prelate and all the priests present.
After the Mass, the vice provincial thanked in Bahasa Malaysia the archbishop, parish and all those involved in the ordination celebration on behalf of the Redemptorist Congregation.
In his turn, Fr Robin also thanked all those present for their participation and presence in making the occasion a memorable one for him. After the speech, the new priest presented a bouquet of flowers to the Icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Help as an expression of love and gratitude. Then he gave his first blessing to his parents. He also presented a linen gremial to his father, George Lomangkok Mojinung.
In his speech, Abp Wong acknowledged his gratitude to the Redemptorist congregation for their choice in having the ordination ceremony in Fr Robin’s home parish. He emphasised the relevance of the Redemptorist Mission in combatting the forces of secularisation and apathy.
He said, “In today’s world, it is said that people go for prestige, wealth, career and status…It is unfortunate that this has to do with secularisation, a process that gradually removes the divine and the sacred, and even does away with the ‘fear of God’ in the hearts of humankind…doing good for the society, serving the needs of others, responding to the cries of neighbour, and helping others to connect with God are subjective matter, something to be left to the pious and the religious. That is why we see even among so-called believers, apathy is fast becoming a behaviour and attitude that is hindering their spiritual growth.”
The vocation of priesthood, the prelate continued, is a call to go beyond oneself and, like Christ, ready to be crucified in the service of faith, hope and love. One of the challenges of today’s priests, is to help people to counter secularisation, and to proclaim that there is a life-after that every human being to called towards.
“We live not only for here and now, but we need also to go beyond the visible and live for eternity,” Abp Wong said. “It is my hope that Fr Robin and the rest of us who are called to the priesthood will be living witnesses of our faith and hope for a life hereafter.”
The reception was held at the parish hall where as usual there was a cake-cutting ceremony followed by a toast to the new priest by his confreres. The people were entertained by several song and dance performances by Fr Robin’s family members and other groups. Fr Robin will continue to serve in Ipoh after his ordination. He celebrated his first Mass at Stella Maris Aug 2 at 6:30 pm and his thanksgiving Mass at the Carmelite Chapel on Aug 4 at 6:30 am.
Fr Robin’s ordination was the second to take place in the archdiocese; the first was that of Calistus Emmanuel on 5 May 1985 at Holy Rosary Limbahau by Bp Simon Fung. He was laicised after several years. However, the first Sabahan to become a Redemptorist was Lucas Ho of Labuan whose ordination was held at the Novena Church in Singapore on 22 Sept 1974, presided by Bp Peter Chung. Years later Ho left the Redemptorist Congregation and was incardinated in the Melaka-Johor Diocese as a diocesan priest.