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Tribute to His Eminence Cornelius Sim

JOSEPH LEONG SAI HO, better known as Joe Leong, head of the Social Communications Commission (SOCCOM), the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, pays tribute to His Eminence Cornelius Sim, Cardinal of the Apostolic Vicariate, Brunei Darussalam.


CATHOLICS in this region of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei are filled with sadness to receive news of the passing of His Eminence Cornelius Sim, Cardinal of the Apostolic Vicariate, Brunei Darussalam, on May 29, 2021 in Taiwan.

As a Catholic writer, I have had the opportunity to meet and interview Bishop Cornelius on many occasions. He was truly a good friend of the media, having full understanding of our need as journalists. Bishop Cornelius was very savvy  with the social media and always make it a point to respond to our requests for his opinion on current events and issues related to the Catholic Church in this region.

No matter how busy he was, he never failed to find time for the media. From my personal experience, the views he expressed reflected his wisdom and intellect. His opinions depict the deep knowlege and understanding of the topics under discussion. He had a very creative mind and expressed thoughts from outside “the box”. This quality is a delight to any journalist, for the views he offered each time became solid substance for a good news story.

Cornelius Sim (seated at centre) with delegates at RCSC annual general meeting in Kuala Lumpur 20-23 June 2016

Cornelius Sim, a faithful servant of the Catholic Church, served for many years as President of the Regional Episcopal Commission for Social Communications (RCSC) of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. Being head of a similar commission of the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, this writer had the opportunity to work closely with him on matters related to social communications in recent years.

I wish to pay tribute to this outstanding leader of the Church by recalling some of the things he said that truly reflected the depth of his thoughts and wisdom. For instance, at the annual general meeting of the Commission held online using Google Meet, attended by about 15 SOCCOM officials from across the region, he gave his opinion on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cornelius Sim, advised Catholic communicators that during this time of uncertainty, they should not wait for certainty but to enter into a moment of creativity and search for opportunities.

He suggested they use the image of a fisherman who might be more appropriate for the current situation. For, a fisherman is far out on the open sea faced with violent storms, afraid, and without familiar landmarks to navigate by.

“It is during these challenging times, while many simply wait around to see familiar fixed points re-emerge, SOCCOM members are called to be resourceful, imaginative and to identify new directions,” he said.

Describing the state of fear that people are in whilst forced to stay indoors in order to stay safe, he said that, instead of shuttering doors, they should make sure that as Christians, they do not shut Jesus Christ out of their homes and hearts.

“It’s also a time to reflect and to pray fervently, examine the state of our faith, and let the energy of the Spirit lead us out into a new day,” he told Catholic social communicators.

The Catholic Church in this region has truly lost the service and leadership of a good shepherd filled with the Spirit of God and wisdom.

Devotion of Sacred Heart of Jesus

Another occasion when this writer had the chance to meet and cover Bishop Cornelius Sim was when he gave a series of talks on three consecutive nights prior to the feast day at the Sacred Heart Cathedral (SHC) in Kota Kinabalu attended by a steady crowd of around 300 each night. His talks were richly interlaced with biblical and magisterium quotations and teachings.

Cornelius Sim (3rd left) with Fr Paul Lo (2nd right), the Rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral, Kota Kinabalu, and youth members of the parish after he had given the last of three talks on devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in June 2019

At the end of the final day of the SHC Triduum on June 26, 2019, Father Paul Lo, the parish priest, expressed his thanks and appreciation to Bishop Sim for his talks which he said were very enlightening.

Bishop Sim told the Sacred Heart devotees that the human heart was the most powerful sign of the love of God shown to us through human communication.

 “The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the centre of who he is and reveals who God is. The heart of Jesus is the heart of God.”

Touching on the devotion of the Sacred Heart, Bishop Sim said Jesus had come to the world as one who comes wounded and in pain.

As for the thorns around the image of the heart, he said these depict our sins. “Each time we sin, we push the thorns deeper into the Heart of Jesus.”

“Every sin is a sign of our disobedience, our rejection of God’s plan for us. Conversion of sinners and by staying more and more away from sin, the Heart of Jesus shall experience a lessening of the pain.”

He appealed to Catholics to be actively engaged in calling sinners back to the Lord thus removing the thorns from the Sacred Heart. He called on them to firstly be committed in an on-going way.

This could be done through prayer and study that are necessary for growth.

The Bishop of Brunei also reminded them of the call of Jesus to his followers to carry their personal cross daily.

  • For & on behalf of
  • Arichdiocese of Kota Kinabalu
  • Sabah, Malaysia

31st May 2021

This Post Has One Comment

  1. On behalf of the Daughters of St Paul, I would like to express our deepest condolence to Msgr Robert Leong and the Vicariate of Brunei Darussalam on the demise of our dear Cardinal Cornelius Sim. We lost a good Shepherd!
    The late Cardinal C. Sim was a good friend to many of our Sisters especially those who are directly involved in the pastoral work of the media across the circumscriptions of the Philippines-Malaysia-Brunei and Singapore. Working together with him as a team and proclaimers of God’s Word and Love through the media of social communication was enjoyable. I can testify this being the chairperson and His eminence as the president for a few years. His good examples in the pastoral work of social communication will never be forgotten. These good examples will shine and bear fruits in time and space under the loving Good Shepherd, Jesus the Divine Master and Shepherd of souls.
    Through the prayers of the faithful, may his soul have a pleasant journey towards the Eternal Home where there is no more pain and suffering. Rest in peace Cardinal Cornelius Sim.
    ~ Sr Rosalie L. Lojiu, fsp

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