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KENINGAU – The simple celebration that was planned for the 40th priestly anniversary of Bishop Cornelius Piong turned unexpectedly into a jubilant celebration with an enthusiastic 3000-crowd, who came from parishes far and near to express gratitude for their shepherd.
“I am grateful to you, O Lord, because you have called, sent, and supported me in my service in your vast vineyard,” the jubilarian prayed aloud at the jubilee Mass held at Holy Family Pilgrimage Centre Nulu Sosopon Keningau on 30 Apr 2017.
Born on 1 July 1949, he was ordained a priest on 27 Mar 1977. Sixteen years later, he was ordained and installed as first bishop of Keningau Diocese on 6 May 1993.
He gave all glory to God, admitting his own inability in pastoring the flock of God.
“I believe my service as a priest and shepherd of Keningau Diocese is due to God’s calling and not of my own passion,” the prelate said, and by this, he affirmed the large crowd that God will never abandon his own to walk alone.
The jubilarian shared his reflection on his 40-year journey, marvelling at God’s benevolence and His plan for him as His unworthy servant, a call which came to fruition only by and through the power of His Holy Spirit.
Archbishop Joseph Marino, Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia, described Bishop Piong as a shepherd who has a heart close to his flocks in his written message: Bishop Cornelius Piong is well known for his friendly attitude and closeness to his parishioners. He has a great concern for those who are in need, full of zeal in spreading the faith, and courageous in building the Church.
Archbishop John Wong of Kota Kinabalu, who was present, spoke warmly of the jubilarian: Bishop Cornelius grows with the local Church since he was ordained 40 years ago. As the first bishop of Keningau diocese, his name will surely be recorded as one of the main pioneers in the salvation history of the diocese.
Also present at the celebration were Msgr Gilbert Engan, Father Giovanni CSE, Father Boniface Kimsin, Father Joseph Gapitang, Father Gilbert Lasius and Father Cosmas Lee. – Aldrin Benedict