The joy of Sarawak Catholics to see native dialect in the church of the Pater Noster
Archbishop Simon Peter Poh Hoon Seng, Archbishop of Kuching, led a group of 89 Bidayuh ethnic pilgrims to the Holy Land. The prelate held a blessing ceremony in front of a mosaic with the "Sama koih" written on it
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - November 29th it was a historic day for Catholics in southern Sarawak (on the island of Borneo): the Bidayuh - a dialect spoken by the community and the original populations of the territory - is now among the more than 140 languages of the world represented on the walls of the cloisters of the church of the Pater Noster on the Mount of Olives, in Jerusalem.
Archbishop Simon Peter Poh Hoon Seng, archbishop of Kuching, led a group of 89 pilgrims from the parish of St. Stephen to Bau to the Holy Land. The faithful joyfully participated in the blessing ceremony, which the prelate officiated before the mosaic with the "Sama koih" written on it - the Our Father in Bidayuh.
Accompanying him were Parish priest Fr. Bernard Jim Bujang and Fr. Patrick Heng, of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Kuching. In his short speech, Msgr. Poh pointed out that the plaque is a blessing for the entire Archdiocese of Kuching.
In the church of the Pater Noster, Catholics from around the world commemorate the teaching of prayer, given by Jesus to the disciples. In 326 AD, in this place Saint Helena decided to build a basilica. Only ruins remain of ancient buildings and medieval reconstructions. In 1872, a community of French-born Carmelites established themselves in the property, which erected the present church and an adjoining convent.
Christianity in Malaysia is a minority religion, practiced by 9.2% of the population (2010 census). Catholics are just over one million, 3.56% of Malaysians. Two thirds of the 2.61 million Christians live in the eastern part of the country, in the states of Sabah and Sarawak. Here together they represent 33% of the citizens.
The Catholic community in the archdiocese of Kuching has over 208 thousand members, about 16% of a population of almost 1.2 million people. The faithful are served by 12 parishes and 25 diocesan priests; two missionaries from St. Joseph of Mill Hill, five Franciscan friars, 53 Franciscan nuns, 11 Carmelites, two Lasallians, four Jesuits, four Claretians and two Salesians. Added to these are 27 full-time catechists and four seminarians.