Planned for the visit of the EAO Regional Councillor (July 28-31) were many meetings and chances for him to get to know the vibrant local Catholic community, the first collaborators, understand better the progress and challenge on the project of incoming “St. Joseph Institute Samarahan”, that also includes the TVET entrusted to the Salesians of Don Bosco.
The missionary start means first of all the study of the local languages - Bahasa Malaysia (Fr. Ramon) and Bidayukh - main local dialect (Fr. Andre is already preaching), while for the latest newcomer, Br. Manuel, it means Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese. Since the last visit of the FIN provincial in February 2018, our Salesians are resident in the beautiful 33,000 Catholic- and 60 chapel- strong parish of St. Stephen, helping the two diocesan priest as much as possible.
By chance, the three days were also marked by three meetings with the dynamic Archbishop of Kuching, Mons. Simon Poh, who is very closely following and helping our new community in many ways. The first encounter took place in the Bau parish on the 40th priestly anniversary celebration of Fr. Jeppy (Saturday), next day on the celebration of the new parish church of St Ann (Kuching) and finally on Monday for a 'working meeting' about the St. Joseph Technical Institute which concluded with lunch.
Thanks to the rather recent evangelization by the Mill Hill missionaries, the not very large territory and the fatherly care of the Bishops the Kuching Catholic community bears witness to a true family spirit among all priests, religious and parish communities. A humble witness of a serving archbishop, with a close accompaniment of the faith formation of the young people (annual camps for teenagers during the past 25 years) brings many fruits.
Klement was able also to visit the St. Joseph International School entrusted to the Marist Brothers, where Br. Manuel realized that he should ask to be called not a Brother (local title for the diocesan seminarians) but to be called Bruder (like in Indonesia). Informal encounters with local faithful, youth leaders and a visit to Catholic families offered rather deep insight in our future field of mission.
As a way of accompaniment the small and distant community of Kuching was given a few points letter as a simple tool of accompaniment and direction for their journey.