First Steps in Eastern Malaysia

Jul 31, 2018 | Apostolate, Chennai, Mission Alive

This is the first General Canonical visit that takes place in Malaysia after six years after the arrival of the first two Claretian Missionaries, Frs. Berkmans Rayar and Anup Hemant Lakra, CMFF, in Kuching, Malaysia on April 2, 2012. The path taken is now evaluated, thanked for, supported, and continue to be consolidated.

This Southeast Asian monarchic country, with 330,000 square kilometers, consisting of 13 states and 3 federal territories, inhabited by 28 million and a half people, with great ethnic and cultural diversity, has Islam as its official religion, have many natural resources, and has a very vibrant and attractive economy.

The first assignment of our missionaries from the Province of Chennai – India was the Parish of St. Jude in Bunam, Saravaw State, in the Archdiocese of Kuching – Eastern Malaysia.

They began to cohabit and collaborate with diocesan priests, as is the practice of the Church in these lands, serving the communities entrusted to them, gradually learning the native languages of the place, and discovering the values, traditions, and customs of these peoples, who knew how to welcome and support them.

Bunan was handed over, and now it is in the care of our missionaries with 25,000 faithful, 4,700 families, 2 main pastoral centers, 46 secondary pastoral centers (many of which are located at long distances and not always accessible), 4 missionary schools, the team consists of 2 Claretians and 1 newly ordained diocesan priest and is supported by 2 nuns and 4 catechists.

Lately, five more missionaries arrived and assigned to other parishes in Seriam (Kuching), Lapok, and Batu Niah of the neighboring Diocese of Miri.

Vocational shortages are glaring. Just to get an idea, and according to the latest statistics, in Theology there are 23 major seminarians from all dioceses in Malaysia; the Archdiocese of Kuching has 2 Archbishops (1 Emeritus), 28 priests (4 Claretians) and 1 deacon; the diocese of Miri has 1 bishop and 26 priests (3 Claretians). In both, there is still a long way to travel.

There are many challenges and opportunities for the Claretian mission in these latitudes. The gratitude of our Congregation and the local Churches for the dedication, availability and cordiality of our missionaries is enormous. It is also worth mentioning the welcoming and generous response of the people who are thirsty for the Good News of the Gospel as well as the closeness of those who accompany them on the paths of life and their arduous work.

They echo the voices that more Claretians are coming to strengthen the Claretian Community and, if everything goes well, to extend the evangelizing presence, the Claretian way, to a third diocese.

Best blessings to Malaysia.
Artur Teixeira, CMF



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