MIRI: A new chapter was written in the history of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Miri yesterday with the Episcopal Ordination of Rt Rev Bishop Richard Ng at the Miri Indoor Stadium here in the presence of 6,000 people.
He replaced charismatic Bishop Emeritus of Miri, Rt Rev Anthony Lee Kok Hin who had been the bishop for the diocese for the past 36 years.
Richard, 47 was ordained by Rt Rev Bishop Emeritus Anthony, as the principal consecrator and assisted by Most Rev Archbishop John Ha Tiong Hock (Kuching) and Rt Rev Bishop Joseph Hii (Sibu).
Seven other archbishops, 11 bishops, 81 priests, deacons, heads of several Protestant churches, politicians and about 6,000 Catholics from all over Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Taiwan joined in the ordination Mass.
Among the archbishops were Most Reverend Arcbishop Joseph Salvador Marino (Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia), Most Reverend Archbishop John Wong Soo Kau (Kota Kinabalu) and Most Reverend Archbishop William Goh (Singapore).
After the singing of the ancient hymn ‘Veni Creator Spiritus’ invoking the Holy Spirit, the rite of the ordination began with the reading of the Papal Bull (mandate from Pope Francis) which was met with thunderous applause.
The ceremony continued with the examination of the bishop-elect on matters of the faith, followed by Litany of the Saints, laying of hands on the bishop-elect followed by the prayer of ordination, a sign of total admittance of Rt Rev Bishop Richard into the College of Bishops.
The newly ordained bishop was then anointed with chrism and presented with the Book of the Gospel, followed by the handing over of the ring, the mitre and the staff. The ring signifies the bishop’s fidelity to the Church, the mitre, his resolve to pursue holiness, and the staff, his duty to watch over the whole flock (Catholics in the diocese covering Miri, Bintulu and Limbang division.)
The newly-ordained bishop was led to his chair and the rite concluded with the kiss of peace by all archbishops and bishops present.
The newly elected bishop then conducted the Ordination Mass which also portrayed the colourful and rich heritage of the 80,000 Catholics in the diocese. This can be seen at the procession for offerings by those dressed in traditional attires of the various communities and the hymns sang in Bidayuh, Iban and Melanau apart from Latin, Bahasa Malaysia and English.
Before the final blessing, Archbishop Marino and Bishop Richard both spoke.
Archbishop Marino thanked Bishop Emeritus Anthony for his missionary works.
“You have served in every sense of the word as a caring pastor of the people entrusted to you for almost 37 years. And you did it with conviction…and according to the Ministry of the Holy Spirit and you did it with joy and ease knowing that nothing can separate you and your people from the love of God, Jesus Christ,” he said.
He also conveyed the message from Pope Francis.
“To all bishops there tell them to open their doors to their priests day and night, seven days a week. At the same time, Catholics too are urged to support the newly ordained bishop,” he said in reading the message.
Meanwhile, Bishop Richard in thanking all for the overwhelming response towards his ordination ceremony said that it spoke volume of their support towards the church.
He urged them “to continue praying for me so that I can be your worthy shepherd, working together as a Body of Christ to build up God’s kingdom here on earth.”
He also thanked Bishop Emeritus Anthony for his past contribution in building the diocese to what it is.
“You deserve a long and happy retirement after serving dedicatedly for almost 37 years and may the Lord reward you for the good deeds you have done,” he said.
Bishop Richard also thanked Pope Francis for his confidence and trust in him.
“Tell the Holy Father the faithful of Miri loves him and he is in our hearts and prayers and we invite him to visit us,” he said to the strong applause of the congregation.
The appointment of Bishop Richard was announced on October 30, 2013 at the Vatican. Prior to that, he was rector of St. Peter’s College, in Kuching.