6,000 witness installation of Penang Diocese bishop
NEW SHEPHERD: Catholics in the northern states get new leader
BUKIT MERTAJAM : SOME 6,000 people yesterday thronged the Church of St Anne here to witness the installation of the Penang Diocese's fifth bishop, Monsignor Sebastian Francis.
Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam, presided over the mass, which was also celebrated by Malacca-Johor Diocese Bishop Paul Tan and Bishop Emeritus Antony Selvanayagam -- Francis' predecessor -- who led the Penang Diocese from 1983.
The Penang Diocese, which was established in 1955, covers the states of Kelantan, Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak.
The more than two-hour long ceremony, which was steeped in Roman Catholic tradition, saw the 61-year-old Francis lying prostrate at the foot of the church's altar, as a sign of humility and total service to God.
He was later anointed with holy oil and presented with the signs of his authority: a book of the Gospels, ring, mitre (pointed hat) and a pastoral staff called a crosier.
Present was the Pope's representative, Monsignor Marek Zalewski, who serves as the Charge d'Affaires of the Apostolic Nunciature in Kuala Lumpur.
Also present were Deputy Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Maglin Dennis D'Cruz, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and more than 200 priests.
Ordained as a priest in 1977, Francis spent the first 25 years mostly in studies locally and abroad and as a lecturer at the College-General in Penang.
In a recent interview with Catholic weekly newsletter Herald, Francis described the Catholic church as a "story and living tradition of continuity and transformation".
"I will continue the ministry of my four predecessor bishops and the vision and mission of the Peninsular Church."