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From the vineyard of Sabah

KOTA KINABALU – In an unprecedented ceremony for the local Church, Brother Claurence Motoyou OFM was ordained a priest while Brother Cruzender Alex OFM was ordained to the Diaconate at Sacred Heart Cathedral here on 27 October 2018, where Alex was solemnly professed together with Brother Aiden Peter Jr last year on September 9.

Custos Friar John Wong in his brief speech at the conclusion of Mass acknowledged with gratitude that Brother Claurence was the fourth local lad to be ordained Friar; with the first, Francisco Basnayake, ordained to the priesthood at Stella Maris Church, Tanjung Aru on 23 January 2016, the second priestly ordination of Don Don Ramarez in Singapore on 12 February 2017, and the third being the diaconal ordination of Cruzender Alex.  Presently, there are ten young men in different stages of formation towards full-time ministry in Australia, out of which six are Sabah lads.

Provincial Minister Friar Phillip Miscamble echoed his gratitude for the Sabah vineyard while acknowledging the remarkable role played particularly by the current Mother General of FSIC, Sister Frances Mani.

“We need people like her,” underlined Friar Miscamble, to plant the seed in the young men, and “we will pick them up and do the rest”.

Hence, many more Frances Mani’s are needed at the right time and “on ground” to challenge the young men to a bigger vision than what they are capable of dreaming for themselves.

Newly ordained Friar Claurence described the role of Sr Frances Mani and the Franciscan Sisters in a nutshell “You have journeyed with us even before our formation years began….thank you!”

More than 10 friars came from the Custody’s parishes and ministries from near and far to celebrate with the ordinands.  Family members, friends and parishioners turned up to witness the happy event, while at the same time acknowledging the extensive Franciscan involvement of Sabah lads.

Archbishop John Wong of Kota Kinabalu Archdiocese celebrated the Rites of Diaconal/Presbyteral Ordination, which was concelebrated with a bevy of local priests and friars from Malaysia, Singapore and Australia, among who were the Provincial Minister of the Province of the Holy Spirit, Friar Phillip Miscamble, and the Custos of the Order of Friars Minors, Custody of St Anthony – Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, Friar John Wong. Assisting at the altar were Deacons Russell Lawrine and Gilbert Marcus, who would themselves be ordained priests on November 10 and 20 respectively.

Archbishop Wong shared the joy of God’s continuous blessings to our land in calling many young people to consecrate their lives as priests or religious; and irrespective of congregation, diocese or order, he exhorted “Two of our sons have said “yes” to God to be His instruments of peace as priest and deacon.  Let us rejoice and celebrate!”

To the newly ordained priest and deacon, he gave a reality check “The world is focusing more on the Catholic priesthood because it is a concrete manifestation of the life-long commitment to Jesus and His mission.  If the Evil one wants to ruin Jesus’ mission, he starts by tearing down the Catholic priesthood.  So too, if the world wants to discredit the Body of Christ, it begins by attacking the priesthood.”

He said this in the light of the recent clerical sex abuse from Germany to Chile, and the US Church.

He called on the Church to pray for God’s mercy in purifying and restoring the dignity and relevance of the Catholic priesthood today, and in particular to pray for the two newly ordained Friars as they assume their sacred ministries.

Friar Claurence will continue to serve as assistant priest at the Church of Immaculate Conception in the Diocese of Melaka-Johor.  Besides, he will head the Migrants’ Office, while serving as Vicar for Religious Office for MJ Diocese.

Brother Cruzender, while based at St Vincent de Paul parish, will also serve the OFM Development and Communications Office, and will continue to offer counseling services in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Brother Aiden Peter Jr, who has been prepared since last year, will be ordained to the Diaconate at Church of St Mary of the Angels, Singapore on 3 February 2019. – CS

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