JOHOR BARU: About 5,000 people gathered for the episcopal ordination of Bishop Bernard Paul as the bishop of the Malacca-Johor diocese.
JOHOR BARU: The 63-year-old replaces Bishop Emeritus Paul Tan Chee Ing, who retired on Nov 19 last year.
Roman Catholics from all over Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei including archbishops, bishops and priests from the region as well as Vatican ambassador to Malaysia Archbishop Joseph Marino witnessed the three-hour ceremony.
A choir of more than 60 people drawn from different Catholic parishes in the state led the congregation in hymns to begin the service.
Steeped in Roman Catholic tradition, the ceremony saw Bishop Bernard lying prostrate at the foot of the altar as a sign of humility and total submission to God while the rest of the congregation kneeled.
After being anointed with oil, he was presented with a ring to signify fidelity to God; a mitre which is the ceremonial headgear of a bishop as well as a crozier, which is shaped like a shepherd’s staff to signify the bishop’s position as the leader of the community.
Bishop Bernard was escorted to his seat at the bishop’s chair by Bishop Emeritus Tan and Archbishop Marino.
In his address to the congregation, Bishop Bernard said that the church should reclaim its voice in influencing world views without fear, particularly with respect to the universal values of truth and justice.
“Unless religions unite, faith will be relegated to the private domain of an individual’s life, thereby weakening the impact of religion on society and morality,” he said.
Archbishop Marino thanked Bishop Emeritus Tan for his excellent leadership before calling on the new bishop to undertake the mandate of teaching, governing and sanctifying devotees of the Malacca-Johor diocese.
Bishop Bernard completed his Higher School Certificate in 1972 at Derma English School, Kangar before becoming a teacher the following year at Maktab Adabi in Alor Setar.
He was the former parish priest of the Cathedral of Holy Spirit and Vicar-General II of the Penang diocese.
He was ordained as a priest in 1989.