Monday, August 31, 2009

Ordination to the Priesthood of Fr. Christopher Lee and Fr. Cyril M.

August 31, 2009 was an occasion for a double celebration for the Parish of Visitation, Seremban. We not only celebrated our National Day with the rest of Malaysians but also were happy to share the joy of Deacon Christopher Lee's entry into the presbyteral order (priesthood). Both Deacons Christopher Lee and Cyril M. from Masai, Johor, were ordained together by Bishop Paul Tan, the Bishop of the Diocese of Melaka Johor.

Deacon Cyril M (L), Deacon Christopher Lee (R)

The newly ordained, Fr. Christopher Lee, grew up in the Seremban and was actively involved in the parish of Visitation for many years, i.e. the Charismatic Prayer Group, the Choir, as a lector and cantor. In the last few years prior to his acceptance as candidate to the priesthood in the Diocese of Melaka Johor, he also served as a lay missionary in many countries and was involved in formation work with the Archdiocesan Pastoral Institute. Fr. Christopher Lee received his theological formation from Beda College, Rome. He will be celebrating his first mass in the Church of Visitation this coming Saturday, the 5th of September. We wish God's abundant blessing on Fr. Christopher and his family as he embarks on his priestly ministry.

Deacon Christopher promising obedience to Bishop Paul Tan.

Deacons Christopher and Cyril M prostrating during the Litany of Supplication (Litany of Saints).

Fr. George and other bishops and priests laying hands on Deacon Christopher.

Fr. Christopher being vested with a stole and chasuble by Fr. John Gnanapragasam.

Fr. Christopher's hand being anointed with chrism by Bishop Paul Tan

Fr. Michael Chua exchanging the Kiss of Peace with the Newly Ordained.

Happy Merdeka!!!

We, the priests of Visitation Parish, Sr. Theresa Chua and the members of the Parish Pastoral Council would like to wish all of you Happy Merdeka!!! Let us continue to pray for our nation, our leaders and its peoples.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Feast of St. Augustine and Opening of Hall, Titi

Fr. Clement Lim, assistant Parish Priest of the Church of Visitation, presided at the Eucharistic Celebration that concluded the Triduum celebration for the Feast of St. Augustine, patron of the Chapel of St. Augustine, Titi. The mass was attended by over 200 persons hailing from various parishes, including parishes in Petaling Jaya, Kajang, Negeri Sembilan dan Seremban. After the mass, the congregation convened to the adjacent hall for a thanksgiving dinner.

Archbishop's Merdeka Day 2009 Message

As Catholics we appreciate the invitation of the Government requesting all religious houses to hold special prayers for the Country and King as we recognise that ultimately peace and the well-being are God’s blessing. It is God who enlightens our minds and moves our will to seek and strive for the Common Good.

We have much to rejoice about in that amidst the severity of the global economic turmoil, the effect on our country has been comparatively mild and we pray that the worse be over.

Of greater concern to us is the pandemic AH1N1 influenza, increasing number of dengue fever cases, rising crime rates and still rampant corruption, about which we urge our Government to take concrete steps of elimination.

While we are heartened that our honourable Prime Minister has launched 1 Malaysia to declare that Malaysia is equally for all Malaysians, and to stop conversions of children without the consent of both parents, we urge the honourable Prime Minister to take more concrete steps to achieve those objectives.

We strongly believe in UNITY IN DIVERSITY, based on the intrinsic value of each human person created in the image of God - we respect and appreciate each person in his/her individuality and solidarity with others. We hope that religious leaders will educate their flock to respect peoples of other faiths more than just claiming their own particular rights.

We urge the government to repeal and/or review all repressive laws including the Internal Security Act which do not uphold Justice for all in Malaysia, a fundamental right of being human.

We wish all Malaysians a Happy Merdeka Day and pray that our country will continue to enjoy peace and prosperity.


Archbishop Murphy PakiamPresident, Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Malaysia

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Alpha Course (Mandarin)

The Chinese Apostolate of Visitation has introduced the Alpha Course for Catholics for the Mandarin speaking community. This is the first time the Alpha Course has been conducted in Mandarin in this parish. Previously, the Alpha Course had been conducted in English for two years consecutively.

The Alpha course is a course on the basics of the Christian faith, described as "an opportunity to explore the meaning of life," currently running in churches, homes, workplaces, prisons, universities and a wide variety of other locations. The course is being run around the world by all major Christian denominations.

Alpha was started by the Revd Charles Marnham, a curate at Holy Trinity, Brompton, a Church of England parish in London. The name 'Alpha' was suggested by Tricia Marnham, Charles' wife. It started as a course for church members on the basics of the Christian faith but then began to be used as an introduction for those interested in the faith. In 1990 the Revd Nicky Gumbel, at that time a curate at Holy Trinity, took over the running of the course at the invitation of the Revd Sandy Millar, the then vicar, and oversaw its revision and expansion.

In 2008, over 33,500 courses were offered in 163 countries by Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Pentecostal, British New Church Movement and Orthodox [2] denominations. By 2009 proponents claimed over 13 million people worldwide had attended an Alpha course (two million in the UK).

This Mandarin version of the course was made possible through the dedication and enthusiasm of a group of young working adults from Kuala Lumpur, under the leadership of Mark Tan. They have been travelling to Seremban every week for the last two months in order to share with the parishioners and friends of the Church of Visitation.

Forum on Freedom of Information

A forum/workshop on Freedom of Information entitled "Right to Information" was held in Visitation Hall today. This event was jointly organised by Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) and Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ).

What is freedom of information? Why is it important? One of the United Nation's earliest resolutions asserts, "Freedom of Information is a fundamental human right and ... the touchstone of all freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated." The Universal Declaration of Human Rights defines it as, "the freedom to hold opinions without interference, and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

Information is power. If disseminated, shared and made accessible to others, it empowers them. On the other hand, information or rather the withholding or distortion of information cripples persons and the society in general.

The objective of this workshop was to create awareness among the public of this basic right to information and to propose a way forward to facilitate the promotion of this right, namely through the promulgation of a Freedom of Information legislation.

The speakers/ trainers who spoke to the participants were Claudia Theophilus, who is a journalist working with Al-Jazeera, and Noel Dass a researcher at CPPS, ASLI.

We are Back in Business - New Screens

We have installed new projector screens as of this weekend! The motor of one the automated screens was destroyed due to a power surge, in spite of the fact that we had installed circuit breakers and surge protectors. Our Church is located in a lightning prone area. We have installed several protective and preventive devices to mitigate the damage in the future.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Final Profession of Dr. Sherman Kuek SFO

The Fraternity of St. Elizabeth of Hungary of the Secular Franciscan Order (SFO),Church of Visitation, Seremban, celebrated the final profession of their newest member, Dr. Sherman Kuek. Sherman was Pastoral Associate for Formation and Youth Ministry till recently. He has recently been appointed the the Director of the Pastoral Institute of the Diocese of Melaka Johor and is now based in Johor Bahru.

The Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) is an Order of the Roman Catholic Church, a community of men and women in the world who seek to pattern their lives after Christ in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi. Secular Franciscans are tertiaries, or members of the Third Order of Franciscans founded by St. Francis of Assisi 800 years ago. Originally known as the Brothers and Sisters of Penance, the Order is approved and recognized by the Holy See by the official name of Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis (OFS). It is open to any Roman Catholic not bound by religious vows to another Religious Order. It is made up of the laity (men and women) and also secular clergy (deacons, priests, bishops). Although Secular Franciscans make a public profession, they are not bound by public vows as are religious orders living in community.

Titi Chapel celebrates Feast and Opening of Hall

The Chapel of St. Augustine, Titi, Jelebu, Negeri Sembilan, which comes under the pastoral care of the Church of Visitation, this year celebrates the feasts of its patron with a Triduum celebration. Fr. Clement Lim, assistant Parish Priest of Visitation, who also has been assigned pastoral care of the Mandarin Apostolate and the Chapel of St. Augustine, will be celebrating the Triduum masses. He will also be making pastoral visits to the families in the area.

This year's celebration will also see the official opening of the Chapel's Community Hall which was completed 2 years ago. This official opening would be an opportunity for the local community to express their gratitude and appreciation to all benefactors, donors, and well-wishers.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Cool Site for Youth Ministry

Disciples Now! is a super cool site for all schooling, College and working youth.

Disciples Now is the place for Catholic teens on the web, now with lots of new features. We are excited to share with you all the ways that Disciples Now can help you come, see and live our awesome Catholic faith!


Whether you’re active in your faith or just curious, come. Disciples Now is a place for you to ask questions, get answers and talk with other teens.


* Informative articles on youth culture, Church teaching, music and current events.
* Opportunities to ask your questions.
* Groups where you can hang out and share with other teens and adult youth workers.
* Sunday readings for Mass and reflections written with you and your life in mind.


Use what you find in this community to strengthen the good that you do where you already live and witness.







Rules, Laws and the Church

Twenty Second Ordinary Sunday Year B

Many people complain that Christianity and the Catholic church have too many rules and prohibitions. They often would use the excuse that if Jesus were alive today, he would abolish all these rules. They would argue that it is enough to do good and avoid evil. This is a very dangerous statement. More often than not it is an excuse to do what we want without reference to anything or anyone else. Very often, we can do a great deal of evil while we intend to do good. On the other hand, we are often corrupted by our own selfish desires that it would be hard to choose what is good rather than what is evil.

Today’s readings remind us that the law is given for our benefit. It is a guide to help us become better persons. It is guide to help us become mature and responsible Christians. The Book of Deuteronomy tells to “keep them, observe them, and they will demonstrate to the peoples your wisdom and understanding.” St. James in the second reading speaks of the law of God as “all that is good, everything that is perfect, which is given to us from above.” It is given to us in order that we become the “first fruits of all that he had created” – in other words, the persons that he had created. Without God’s law to guide us, we will be guided by our own pride and selfishness. Therefore, the laws of God and his church are meant to help us become free from our own selfish motives and intentions instead of taking freedom away from us.

James continues to remind us that we need to “accept and submit to the word which has been planted in you and can save your souls. But you must do what the word tells you, and not just listen to it and deceive yourselves.”

On the other hand, we must also avoid the other extreme. There are many who slavishly follow these church rules without understanding their intent. So much so that we find these people often very judgmental of others. They see themselves as the perfect guardians of the Law and take it upon themselves to be the watchdogs of morality. Some of them are very quick to point out to others or to the priest how so-and-so is living in an irregular marriage, how this person should not be receiving communion, how we should bar other sinners from coming forward for communion etc. The Pharisees and scribes in the gospels were like these. In today’s gospel, we hear Jesus reprimanding this group of people. He called them ‘hypocrites’ while describing them as this: “This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me.”

In order to be good Christians, it is not enough to just follow the laws. Sometimes we follow laws blindly. We do it only because we fear punishment. That’s not how we should follow these laws. The laws of God are based on the law of love. If we do something out of love, there is never any compulsion. In order that we might be good Christians, we must follow God’s law out of love and not because we fear punishment.

We are able to act out of love when there is a real conversion from within. We must remember the words of Jesus in today’s gospel that “nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean.” Let us then pray that God will cleanse our hearts from all evil intentions so that we may not only listen to his word but also do what he tells us to do.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Children's Bible Camp

School holidays can be both fun and spiritual at the same time!!! Our Sunday School primary children came together for the second Bible Camp of the year, organised by the Catechetical Bible Camp Team. The theme for the camp was "Jesus, Mary and Joseph." Through skits, para-liturgies, drama, activities and creative teaching methods, the children learned about the story of the Holy Family in the Bible.

The children walking in procession at the start of the camp

Teacher Catherine teaching the children a song

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Media Youth Camp 2009

The Catechetical Ministry under the direction of Sr. Theresa Chua, IJ, Pastoral Associate for Catechetics organised it annual media youth camp for the pre-confirmation class, numbering over 40 students. This year's media camp was held on the grounds of the Church of Visitation for the first time from the 21st to 23rd of August, after having been organised in Seminari Teologi Malaysia (STM) for past several years.

The camp was animated and facilitated by the team from the Cahayasuara Communications Centre, which comes under the Social Communications Commission of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur. Over the last 20 years, Cahayasuara Communications Centre, has been conducting the Media Education Camp called "ReFOCUS" in several parishes and locations, including the Church of Visitation. The camps actively engages young people in producing Public Service Advertisement videos.

The results of the ReFOCUS Media Camp will be posted on Youtube after some editing has been done to the productions.

Call to Be Human, Call to be Holy, Call to Solidarity

Recollection for IHD Ministry Members, August 22

“Ministry can be for us a great source of blessing as well as a great source of temptation,” said Rev. Fr. Michael Chua, as he spoke to the members of the Integral Human Development (IHD) Ministry of the Church of Visitation, Seremban in a one day recollection that took place on August 22nd. During the sessions, time of prayer and small group discussions, the 40 over members of the various ministries under the IHD umbrella were led to reflect on their vocation and the challenges thereto.

The story of Jesus’ baptism and the ensuing narrative on his temptations in the desert were used to highlight the central point that our call is not defined primarily by what we do but by our relationship with God. Being “called” and being “chosen” is synonymous to being named “the Beloved of God,” our truest identity. The temptations of Jesus are invariably temptations that lead one to believe that our identity and self-worth are defined by possessions, popularity and power, the three fundamental temptations which all others can be collapsed into. In contrast to the temptations of the devil that may accompany every ministry, Jesus calls us to humility, powerlessness, vulnerability and poverty. This is practically embodied by the Church in its promotion of the evangelical counsels of obedience, poverty and chastity.

The call to ministry is ultimately a call to be human, for “to be fully human is to be fully divine.” Therefore, the ministry of IHD is a crucial reminder that any ministry in order to be holistic must address every aspect of a human person that is integral to him, be it spiritual, physical, social, psychological, material etc. The call to ministry is also a call to Christian holiness. In the OT, we have the idea that in order to effect a relationship with the divine, it was necessary to isolate things and persons from their ordinary use. But the mystery of the Incarnation in the New Testament gave an entirely new perspective to this understanding of holiness. And so in Christianity and the NT, the sacred is realized not by isolation but by communion between God and man effected by the initiative of God reaching out to man in order to share His life with him. Such an incarnational model of a life of holiness will then result in a paradigm shift that views itself as a life that embraces freedom rather than mere obligation; a life that immerses itself in the world rather than one that withdraws from it; it affirms life rather than negates it; it is dynamic rather than static; its about being (the Beloved of God) rather than doing something in order to earn that accolade. This sacred action ultimately leads and even compels man to communion, the third aspect of ministry. Ministry is a call to communion, solidarity, compassion, vulnerability, collaboration and finally to community.

At the end of the day, the members of the IHD ministry were invited to recommit themselves to the goals of IHD process, namely, a ministry that promotes the good of every person and of the whole person, especially of the poorest and most neglected in the community, where every person meets their basic human needs and where all persons are empowered to free themselves from everything that is dehumanising. In order to do this, they need to undergo several paradigmatic shifts, from viewing the human person in a fragmented way to one that recognizes the unity of his whole being; from seeing ministry as mere maintenance to one of mission; from individualism to solidarity; from regarding the objective of their work as mere hand-outs to one which will engender holistic change; and finally from viewing their ministry as social work to one which genuinely promotes integral human development.

The IHD Commission of the Church of Visitation is made up of the following ministries, Society of St. Vincent De Paul, Tuesday Meals, Urban Poor Ministry, Migrant Ministry, Orang Asli Ministry, Human Resource Ministry, Prison Ministry. Emmaus Visitation Counselling Centre, and Parish Ministry of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

Friday, August 21, 2009








Love's Radical Call

Twenty First Ordinary Sunday Year B

Do we really love God? Some of you may say “Yes” immediately without any hesitation. But saying that you love God isn’t always exactly the same as really loving God. That’s the same with our family members and friends. If we say that we love our wife or our husband, that we love our parents, or our children, then we must prove it through our actions.

If we love someone, we will try to see the person as frequent as possible. It is only people whom we do not like that we try to avoid. Is this the explanation for the behaviour of some Catholics who come to church only once in a while? Are they trying to avoid God? But if we love God, we will try to meet him as often as possible.

If we have decided to love God, how do we show it? The bible tells us that we must love him with all our heart, all our mind, all our being. What does this mean? It means that we must serve him and only him alone. We must not have any other gods before him. When things get bad, when we are facing problems in life, where do we run to? Do we go back to God or do we run to the nearest temple, medium or bomoh? To say that we love God and that we want to serve him is a lie when we continue to worship and pray to other gods when we are in trouble. The bible speaks of it as a form of adultery. St. Paul gives us the image of a married couple to illustrate the relationship between God and us. If we pray to other gods, then we will be committing adultery against God like how we would commit adultery against our spouses when we are unfaithful to them.

This is the kind of love which is needed. It is a love that calls for commitment. It is a love that calls for fidelity, whether in good times or in bad. In today’s gospel, we hear how many of Jesus’ followers left him because they were not able to accept his teaching. If we say that we love Jesus and God, then we must accept his teachings. We cannot choose to believe only those parts of his teachings that suit us or make us feel comfortable. We must take God as he is and not as how we would want him to be. We must choose God over and above all other gods, whether it be money, power, or other deities.

This relationship that we have with God and the relationship between Christ and his church must also be reflected in our families and community. Do we show our love to our husband or wife in the way that we should love God? Do we love our children as how God loves us? Today, many families are facing difficulties. Adultery and divorce is becoming more rampant. Domestic violence is on the rise. Instead of loving their wives, we hear of husbands hitting their wives and children and treating them in way which is worse than animals. Today, the Lord is giving you an opportunity to change your ways. If this is a problem that you are facing in your family, then it is time to seek for help. Not doing anything about it will be a sign of hypocrisy.

Love calls us to change. Love calls us to commitment. Love calls to choose between what God wants and what we selfishly desire. Let us pray in today’s mass that we will make the right choices in life. Let us also pray that God will strengthen our faith in him and our relationship with one another especially in the family and in the community.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hari Orang Asli Kampung Sebir

By resolution 49/214 of 23 December 1994, the United Nations General Assembly decided that the International Day of the World's Indigenous People shall be observed on 9 August every year during the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People. The date marks the day of the first meeting, in 1982, of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

The Desk for Orang Asli Affairs at the Archdiocesan Office of Human Development (AOHD) organized the first local celebration of this event under the title “Hari Orang Asli” in Kampung Orang Asli Tekir, Jalan Labu, Seremban in 2007. After a lapse of one year, the Orang Asli community of Kampung Sebir, Jalan Labu (located about 6 km away from the last venue), organized and hosted this year’s celebration on the 9th of August 2009. The event not only showcased the community’s rich culture in dance, song, games, art and craft but was also an opportunity for the older generation to inculcate in the younger members of the community a deeper appreciation of their heritage and traditions which are threatened by both modernization and globalization.

With the support of the Integral Human Development Ministry of the Church of Visitation, Seremban, this year's event has also been an occasion to bring together the members of the community that hail from different religions, Catholic, Protestants, Muslims and Traditional Religionists. It was an authentic exercise of both the dialogue of deed and life (culture), which led the denominational and religious barriers to be set aside while allowing for the deeper roots of culture and tradition (adat) to bridge the divide.

The theme for this year's celebration is "The Jungle and the Land: Hearbeat of Indigenous Peoples" resonates with their struggle. The residents of Kampung Sebir has been fighting a long–standing battle to preserve both their traditional heritage and reservation lands from encroachment by outsiders. The ongoing activities of a nearby quarry have caused irreparable damage not only to the surrounding environment but also to the health and livelihood of these people. In this matter, the multi religious members of this small community of Orang Asli are united in defending their legitimate interests against these encroachers. They recently had their land surveyed by a license surveyor to determine the actual boundaries of their reservation land which has apparently confirmed such encroachment. The next stage would be a legal battle to regain what is rightfully theirs.

This year’s celebration also saw participants and visitors from neighbouring Orang Asli Villages, such as the previous hosts, Kampung Tekir and another settlement along the road to Mantin, Kampung Belihoi, thus strengthening the bonds of friendship and culture between the three different villages.

Traditional handicraft weaved from recycled paper.

The Batin of Kampung Sebir with the children of the village