New Catholic Archbishop of KK installed

Archbishop Emeritus John Lee (left) hands over his pastoral staff to Wong, a sign of passing the bishop’s office of governing the Catholic flock in the Archbishop of Kota Kinabalu.-Photo by Yong Ted Phen.

KOTA KINABALU: Archbishop John Wong Soo Kau, newly installed head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, has praised his predecessor, John Lee, for having served as bishop for over 25 years with patience, understanding and dedication.

Sandakan-born Wong, 44, said that under Lee’s leadership positive changes had taken place for the Catholic Church in Sabah, growing from one diocese to three dioceses (Kota Kinabalu, Keningau and Sandakan) now.

He added that through a series of annual pastoral council (PAX) meetings in the past years, a diocesan vision had emerged, reflecting the vision and foresight of his predecessor.

Newly installed Archbishop John Wong Soo Kau in his full regalia.

Speaking of his own vision and hope as the new Archbishop, Wong said that as the universal Catholic Church is celebrating the Year of Faith, his hope is that all within the Church, irrespective of priests, religious or the laity, would live their faith in words and deeds.

Wong was officially installed as the second Archbishop of Kota Kinabalu at a simple ceremony during a Eucharistic celebration at the Sacred Heart Cathedral here yesterday.

Archbishop Emeritus Lee, 79, handed over his pastoral staff, sign of the bishop’s office of governing the flock, to Wong, inviting and leading his successor to the bishop’s chair, a sign of the bishop’s teaching office.

Among those to witness the installation ceremony was Msgr Marek Zalewski, the Charge d’Affaires Malaysia of the Apostolic Nunciature in Kuala Lumpur who earlier conveyed greetings and blessings of Pope Benedict XVI.

The Vatican in Rome had on December 1 accepted the retirement of Archbishop Lee, thus paving the way for his assistant Wong to be ordained Coadjutor Archbishop, a position that allows him to succeed the archbishop upon the acceptance of his retirement by the Pope.

The new Archbishop Wong had, in an earlier interview, described the past two years as Coadjutor Archbishop ‘a fruitful time and a good preparation’ for his task ahead.

In his speech yesterday, he told the large gathering that packed the Cathedral that they were gathered to witness the beauty of a tradition of apostolic succession that has been brought down since the time of the first apostles of Jesus.

Lee, in his speech earlier, said he had actually retired two years ago when Coadjutor Archbishop was ordained to assist him.

“During these two years, I had slowly, slowly passed over my experience to him,” he said and made the remark that Wong was so brave to succeed him.

He called on all to give his successor their fullest support.

Among the guests present for the installation of the new Archbishop were the mother of the new Archbishop, his siblings and other family members from Sandakan; Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok and Catholics from other parts of Sabah.

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