First local Catholic priest ordained in St Anthony’s Church, Bintulu
By STEPHEN THEN
BINTULU: Father Peter Hwang, 28, became the first local catholic priest here after he was ordained by Bishop Anthony Lee Kok Hin on Oct 7. The ceremony was witnessed by thousands of parishioners of the St Anthony’s Church. For the past 54 years, the Bintulu Catholic parish, established by the Mill Hills Missionaries and the Catholic community here had prayed for a local to be ordained a priest.
The new priest did not show any signs of reservation or hesitation during his ordination witnessed by family and 16 other Catholic priests from throughout northern Sarawak, Bishop Lee himself is the first local Catholic Bishop in northern Sarawak. He reminded Fr. Hwang of the responsibilities that he would shoulder as a priest.
Prayers and obedience to God are the key factors that will help a priest sustain his vocation, said Bishop Lee.
“Pray often. It is through prayers that great things for God can be done. Be obedient to your callings at all times,” said the Bishop.
Fr. Hwang, as a symbolic gesture of total submission of self to God, had to lay on the floor face-down before the Bishop and the Crucifix before he took his vows.
Later, he related to The Star how he went from school straight to the seminary to prepare for priesthood after finishing his secondary school.
Fr. Hwang said another Catholic priest by the name of Father Sylvester Ding was the reason he joined the priesthood.
“Many years ago, when Father Ding came to my house he suggested that I should try out for the priesthood.
“At that time, I was not even a good Christian. and I did not know Father Ding well. But, that meeting was the turning point in my life. Later I became active in the church and discovered my calling,” he said.
Fr. Hwang said he will also be serving in other parts of northern Sarawak.
He had travelled far and wide in Limbang division and in the interior of Miri division for pastoral works during the past eight years of his seminarian days during his preparation for the priesthood.
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