Tuesday, May 21

New Catholic bishop due for ordination Oct 1


KOTA KINABALU: Sandakan-born Father John Wong Soo Kau, the newly appointed coadjutor bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, is due to be ordained Oct 1 at the Sacred Heart Cathedral (SHC) here.

His appointment by Pope Benedict XVI on June 21, places him in direct line for succession as head of this archdiocese, now under Archbishop John Lee.

Once ordained, Coadjutor Bishop John Wong shall assist in the administration of the archdiocese. He is expected to succeed the current archbishop when the Pope eventually accepts his retirement.

According to the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, the diocesan bishop and the coadjutor are to consult with each other on matters of greater importance.

At the age of 42, Father Wong shall become one of the youngest Catholic priests to be ordained a bishop in Malaysia.

Since ordination as a priest in Sandakan in 1999, he had served as assistant rector at the Sacred Heart Cathedral here for three and half years.

He took a two-year course in spirituality in Rome from June 2002 and after return, has been serving as the rector at the Catholic Diocese Centre where young men from Sabah aspiring to become priests are given initial training.

Father Wong is trilingual; more proficient in the Chinese language but also fluent in Bahasa Malaysia and English. He is the seventh child in a family of 11.

His mother and all 10 brothers and sisters are living in Sandakan. His father, Wong Sui Tshung, a trader, passed away in 1996 at the age of 75.

He had his primary education at Chen Ming Chinese School in Sandakan before moving to St Mary’s Secondary School where he completed his studies after obtaining his SPM in 1986.

Since his school days, Father Wong has been very much involved in church activities, particularly those involving the youth and the choir.

Bishop-elect John Wong told the Borneo Post in an interview yesterday that he was very surprised when the letter of appointment came to hand in June.

He said that since then he had prayed to God for strength so that he could serve well in his new pastoral ministry.

The Catholic Church has three dioceses in Sabah – the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, the Diocese of Keningau headed by Bishop Cornelius Piong and the Diocese of Sandakan under Bishop Julius Dusin Gitom.