29 November 2019

New Leadership for our Custody

On 10 October, the newly-elected leadership team of the Custody of St Anthony Malaysia- Singapore-Brunei began its three-year term. Friar Derrick Yap is Custos, and his Council members are Friar Michael D’Cruz, Friar Julian Mariaratnam, Friar Martin Low and Friar David Au. 

A few words from the Custos, Brother Derrick: 

“Lord, give me a scripture verse to live by as I take on this new role” was the question in my heart after I said “yes” to my Provincial Minister Friar Philip Miscamble on 10 October, when he asked if I would accept the role of Custos. 

That very evening, during Vespers, the scripture reading read thus “you should all agree among yourselves and be sympathetic; love the brothers, have compassion and be self-effacing. Never pay back one wrong with another, or an angry word with another one; instead, pay back with a blessing. That is what you are called to do, so that you inherit a blessing yourself.” (1 Pet 3:8-9) 

I literally exclaimed that my guiding passage had been revealed to me! To love the brothers, that’s my call and my mission as I assume the role of Custos. For those unfamiliar with the term, “Custos” is “Custodian” in English, and for me, it is the service of leadership of the Franciscan Friars in Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei. 

St Francis of Assisi, calling himself a “friar minor”, wanted his brothers to be minor (or lesser), and hence even the titles given to leaders in our Order reflect this sense of minority. Instead of “Superior” or “Prior”, 

St Francis preferred ‘Minister”, “Guardian” and “Custodian”. Franciscan leaders are meant to serve, guard and look after. 

Hence this scripture passage hit the nail on the head for me: to love the brothers in the way the Lord wants me to. Our Custody Statutes state that the task of the Custos is “to visit the brothers regularly, exhort them spiritually, support them and humbly and charitably correct them”. I intend to do just that, if the friars allow me to, and to humbly journey with them towards greater authenticity and audacity as we live our Franciscan life and charism, in the service of God and God’s beloved people. May the Holy Spirit who inspired St Francis continue to inspire us, the sons of St Francis, today. 

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