The long vocational journey of Fr Sia, new priest in Malacca (II)
Fr Paul was ordained at the age of 62. For years he worked for Malaysia Airlines. He first expressed a desire to become a priest in 1975, but his family was opposed. After a first refusal by his bishop, he entered the seminary in Rome in September 2015.
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Herald Malaysia) – The Malaysian Church recently celebrated the ordination of three new priests: Fr Martinian Lee Hock Chuan (37), Fr Paul Sia Chau Kiang (62) and Fr Alexuchelvam Mariasoosai (42). The second of the three stories follows. For the first, click here.
‘Labour, seek, heal, set free’ is Fr Paul Sia Chau Kiang’s motto, the new 62-year-old priest (picture 1) in the Diocese of Melaka-Johor, southern Peninsular Malaysia.
On 6 November, Mgr Anthony Bernard Paul, the local bishop, consecrated him along with two other priests: Fr Martinian Lee Hock Chuan and Fr Alexuchelvam Mariasoosai (pictures 1-2). Thus, Fr Paul’s long vocational journey ended in a solemn service in the presence of an entire community in celebration.
Born on 10 August 1956, Fr Paul Sia is the second of six boys and two girls. He studied at Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus in Malacca (Melaka) whilst his secondary years were spent at St Francis Institution. He later worked for Malaysia Airlines.
“My desire to join the seminary for the priesthood goes back to 1975 when Fr Francis Ng CDD took charge of the Church of Saint Ignatius, Sungei Way.”
“Fr Ng hails from Ayer Salak, Malacca; the same village where I came from. He was the priest that encouraged me to pursue my desire. When I told my parents of my intention of joining the priesthood, the reply was no. However, I did not give up on the idea. It was always in my mind.
“I attended the Life in the Spirit Seminar (LSS) in 1998 at the Assumption Church. It was during this that the thought of the priesthood became serious. It became even more serious with my involvement in the Divine Mercy Devotion in Sabah.”
“The LSS also made me realise that going to Sunday Mass was insufficient. As days passed, I became thirstier for the Word of God.”
At the same time, Fr Paul’s work in St Ignatius Parish grew, especially with youth and students. Following his father’s death (2010) and then that of his aunt (2012), he wrote a letter to Mgr Cornelius Piong, bishop of Keningau (Sabah), asking to enter the seminary. "However, my request was unsuccessful”.
Eventually, “God opened another door. On 22 December 2013 I received the best gift I could receive: a phone call from Mgr Paul Tan Chee Ing, bishop emeritus of Melaka-Johor. That call was the beginning of my journey” to Rome.
On 23 March 2014, Fr Paul was admitted to Pontifical Beda College and started his studies in September 2015. Two years later, on 27 June, he was ordained a deacon in the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls and the following year he completed his studies in Italy.
In 2018, he met Pope Francis during the ad limina visit of the 11 bishops of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (BCMSB).