25 April 2023

Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei: Autonomous Custody of St. Anthony erected

On the morning of 25 April 2023, Friar Massimo Fusarelli ofm, Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor (Franciscans) officially declared the autonomy of the Custody of St Anthony (Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei), previously dependent upon the Province of the Holy Spirit (Australia-New Zealand). 

The fraternal celebration was also graced by the participation of Definitor General (Asia-Oceania) Friar John Wong, himself the previous Custos of the Custody.  The Mother Province in Australia-New Zealand was also well-represented by the presence of the Minister Provincial Friar Phillip Miscamble, who was the entity’s first Custos, together with the current Provincial Definitors and previous Ministers Provincial.  It was truly a celebration of the sacrificial efforts of the many friars that contributed to the growth and maturation of our brotherhood here in this part of the world. 

The decree of erection of the Autonomous Custody pronounced at the beginning of a Custody Assembly held in St Clare Hall on our Bukit Batok Complex. The appointments of the leadership team of the newly Autonomous Custody was also read out, with Friar Derrick Yap as Custos, Friar Michael D’Cruz as Vicar, and Friars Vernon Chua, Esmond Chua, David Au and Aiden Peter as Custody Councillors.   During this Assembly, the Custody’s journey was reviewed and its future trajectory envisioned in the presence of Minister General and Definitor General for the zone.

The Evening Eucharist celebration of the Custody’s Autonomy was presided by the Minister General at the Church of St Mary of the Angels in Bukit Batok, Singapore. Many Religious, parishioners of St Mary of the Angels, benefactors and friends were present to rejoice with us. After the rousing homily, Friar Nelson Evarinus was admitted to the Ministry of Acolyte and all the Solemnly Professed present recommitted their vows as a symbol of their dedication to the Franciscan Gospel way of life and of becoming contemplative fraternities in mission. 

As a concrete expression of the Custody’s ongoing commitment to the Poor and Marginalised, as well as for Mission and Evangelisation Efforts, the Custody launched ‘St Anthony’s Touch’, a fund specially reserved for initiatives in these areas.  A cheque of MYR50,000 (approximately EUR10,000) was presented to Friar Don Don Ramerez, the Rector of St Ann Mission (Kuching) to support the mission parish’s effort to build houses for poor families in the villages they pastorally care for.

After the Mass, the Minister General blessed a statue of St Anthony preaching to the Fishes at the Piazza of the Bukit Batok parish and friary, symbolising the intentional commitment of the frairs of the Custody to be ‘Fishers of Men’.  The souvenirs for the occasion consists of two pairs of chopsticks, a rich symbol to remind us, like the functions of chopsticks, to hold gratitude in our hearts, to feedGod’s people, and to lift each other up. 

The Minister General also took time to have separate personal encounters with individual groups to dialogue and deepen his understanding of the Custody – with all the brothers in Initial Formation, with the Custody Council and individual consultations with the Provincial and Custos.

Following this celebration, Br Massimo and Br John will be accompanied by Br Derrick to Sabah (Malaysia) for a visit to the newest mission of the Custody in Kota Kinabalu, where the Custody’s presence was only recently established.  The Minister General will meet and dialogue with the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (FSIC) and with some of the almost 600 the members of the Order of Franciscans Secular in Sabah. 

The Minister General and Definitor General will also have a personal meeting with the Archbishop of Kota Kinabalu. Archbishop John Wong and the Definitor General happen to have the same name, which often causes humorous confusion in the local Church!

In this part of the world, where there is a great diversity of cultures, religions and even degrees of affluence, the brothers of this newly Autonomous Custody are called to reach out to every persona and all creatures, just as St Francis did, as well as following the beautiful examples of their patron St Anthony of Padua and co-patron Blessed Gabriele Allegra.

Source : ofm.org

Photos & Video : Luminaire Ministry Church of St Mary of the Angels , Franciscan Digital Media, Franciscan Friars Media

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