Rev. Fr. Francis Xavier Selvarajoo
My former parish priest, Fr. Francis Xavier celebrated the 25th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on the 31st of August of this year. However, since this was a Sunday, the grand Mass of Thanksgiving was held on Monday instead, which was a public holiday in Malaysia. The festivities took place at the Church of St. Anthony in Nibong Tebal of which Fr. Francis is the parish priest. He is also administrator of 2 other nearby parishes.
The Church was packed when we arrived. Fortunately, there were several seats reserved in the front for us outstation guests, thanks to the generosity of Fr. Francis and his parishioners who took the lesser seats and seats in under the canopies places outside the Church. The concelebrants and ministers made a grand entrance preceded by musicians playing the Indian trumpet and drums and bunga manggar bearers.
The Mass was said by His Lordship Antony Selvanayagam, the Bishop of Penang (below, left), His Grace Archbishop Emeritus Anthony Soter Fernandez of Kuala Lumpur (below, right), Fr. Francis Xavier, Msgr. William Sabang, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Kuching (above, centre) who was Fr. Francis' classmate in the seminary and many other priests including the Vicars General of Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Malacca-Johore.
Msgr. James Gnanapragasam, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur delivered a magnificent homily, one of the best I've ever heard. It was one heck of a sermon, witty and scriptural. I was very impressed. We need priests like that in Penang. When he finished, spontaneous applause occurred, the first time I've ever seen a congregation clap for a sermon.
After the homily, Fr. Francis renewed his ordination vows before the Bishop.
Part of the seminarians and priests attending.
The presentation of the gifts, by Fr. Francis' relatives.
The nicely decorated altar. The rather good frontal is obscured by the beautiful floral arrangement.
As an exercise in inculturaturation, girls bearing incense, lighted candles and flowers paid homage to the Sacrament, reminiscent of the Hindu rites performed in a temple.
A closer look at the inculturation thingy during the Doxology.
After the Pater Noster, during the Sign of Peace, Fr. Francis exchanged the Sign of Peace with Archbishop Emeritus Soter Fernandez who ordained him to the Sacred Priesthood at the Church of Christ the King, Sungei Petani 25 years ago when he was Bishop of Penang, the last ordination he conferred before being elevated to the Archiepiscopal See of Kuala Lumpur.
After the Thanksgiving Prayer, some Indian dancers did a jig.
A song was dedicated to Fr. Francis by his parishioners and Fr. knelt as the congregation honoured and prayed for him in a gesture of humility.
The Grotto Fr. Francis built in Nibong Tebal soon after his transfer, all decked with flags for the Malaysian National Day celebrations.
A grand dinner was held in the hall of a Chinese school about 1Km down the road. The outstation guests, priests and Fr.'s family members were seated in places of honour. The locals graciously sat at the back of the hall.
The main table where the Bishop's and Vicars General were seated.
To cap off the celebrations, an anniversary cake was cut by Fr. Francis, Msgr. William Sabang and an unidentified person to commemorate this jubilee.
May God continue in His faithfulness to Fr. Francis Xavier and grant him continued guidance his ministry as a Teacher of the Word, Minister of the Sacraments and Leader of the Community. God has chosen Fr. Francis and he has said yes to God and offered the Lord the gift of self in obedience to His call. May Fr. Francis be granted many more years of service in the Lord's Vineyard and finally attain the rewards that God has promised after he has run the race.
Ad multos annos!
Ad multos annos!