29 March 2022

Sing a New Song

Dearest family and friends, 

May the Lord give you peace!

Our Seraphic Father Francis composed a psalm for his Office of the Passion which he recited every day during the Easter season: “Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wondrous deeds. The Lord has made his salvation known. This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Office of the Passion, Psalm 9). What strikes me about this prayer is that St Francis is calling himself and us to sing a “new song” because “this is the day the Lord has made”, to make His salvation known today in ever-new ways.

In the first quarter of 2022, the Franciscan Friars in Malaysia- Singapore-Brunei celebrated the gift of fraternity in several ways. In January, two of our student- brothers resumed their full-time studies in Philosophy and Theology at the Major Seminary in Upper Bukit Timah. They were joined by our novices. The studies at the seminary, supplemented by in- house formation programmes, will equip our brothers for their future ministries in sharing the message of life of the Gospel in this region and beyond.

On 11 February, we celebrated World Day of Consecrated Life together with other religious orders and congregations. Approximately 90 religiousbrothers and sisters participated in the online event organised by the Conference of Religious Major Superiors. Formandees (students) in the various religious orders also shared their hopes, dreams, and aspirations for the future in a video which you can watch in the Franciscan Friars YouTube channel.

The next day, 12 February, two postulants, Jorgerson Japar and Nicholas Ambrose Lee, entered the pre-novitiate programme that, due to Covid border restrictions, has to take place in two locations – Penang (Jorgerson) and Singapore (Nicholas). We are grateful for the continued gift of vocations. We are also grateful that our Vocation Evening on 27 February drew a sizeable group of young men who had the opportunity to meet friars who have served as pastors, missionaries, chaplains, administrators and other roles within our Custody.

In June and July, we have the Sacerdotal Ordinations of five friars – Friar Robin Toha on 21 June at the Church of St Mary of the Angels, and Friars Cosmas Francis, Crispus Mosinoh, Gerald Terence Saimel and Sixtus Pitah on 2 July at Sacred Heart Cathedral, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. Then on 9 July, Friar Nelson Evarinus will make his Solemn Profession at the Church of St Aloysius in Kota Kinabalu.

Also in July is our Custody Assembly. Preparations have already begun, and during the Assembly, to be held from 4 to 8 July, we will review the last three years and discuss possibilities for the way ahead. This lays the ground for the Custody Chapter in October when we will decide on the Custody leadership for the next three years, install the Custos and his Council, and set out our commitments to action for the next few years.

Brothers and sisters, please pray for us as we discern how we can sing a new song to the Lord and make known His salvation across Malaysia, Singapore and beyond.

As we journey towards Easter, may a new springtime of faith, hope and love take root in us all. On behalf of the Franciscan Friars of the Custody of St Anthony, may Peace and all Good be yours!

Friar Aiden Peter Jr OFM

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