Ad Limina Visit in Rome 2018 – Archbishop Simon Poh reflects
Posted date: March 22, 2018
One of the memorable moments of my first Ad Limina Visit is the meeting with Pope Francis on 8 February 2018. There were two earlier occasions that I personally met our Holy Father. The first was in October 2016, together with Archbishop Julian and Bishop Bernard Paul, when we attended a formation course for new bishops. My second opportunity was receiving the Pallium during Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul on 29 June 2017. Both were brief meeting of a few minutes. At the Ad Limina, the Bishops of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei sat with our Holy Father for almost hour and a half. What struck me was the humility and brotherly concern of Pope Francis, who told us that as Bishops, we are all brothers in the ministry and we can speak and share freely among each other. His human touch was evident when he even offered us to feel free to use the washroom nearby.
I shared on the religious reality of Sarawak and Sabah which are considered as the Christian part of Malaysia, together with its challenges in the face of Islamisation. As the Bishop-in-charge of youth and campus, I presented the challenge of conversion to Islam, the rise in secularism among our young. As a Malaysian Church, we have now a greater collaboration among the dioceses and pastoral care of the students and youth in Malaysia.
I arrived in Rome a few days before our official Ad Limina. Together with Bishop Richard Ng of Miri and Fr. Josef Schmoelzer, a Mill Hill Missionary priest working in Rome who had served in Kuching Archdiocese, we visited the Mill Hill Retirement Home in Brixen Bressanone (Northern Italy). We visited the graves of some Mill Hill Missionaries who had served in Sarawak. I was able to pray at the grave of my predecessor Bishop Charles Reiterer who was the second Bishop of Kuching. I am especially grateful to visit the grave of a Fr. Josef Wassermann who had baptized me 1979 when I was in Form 4. At that moment, seeing the graves of the many missionaries who were buried in the church cemetery, I realized that when these missionaries left Europe to serve in mission lands, they would not have known the impact of their ministry. At their grave, I stand as a testimony of the fruits of their labour.
The Ad Limina visit to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul in the Basilicas is thus a great affirmation for me to continue this great mission that has been given to me. It was a mission that was first entrusted by Jesus to St. Peter, St. Paul and the Apostles, carried on by the Missionaries who were sent from Europe to Malaysia. Now it is in our hands as local Bishops and lay-faithful of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei.
Abp Simon, Kuching
23 Feb 2018