THE Cathedral of the Good Shepherd was packed to capacity at the 10 am Mass, Sunday, Jan 21, for a very special reason. The Apostolic Pronuncio, His Excellency Archbishop Alberto Tricarico presided at the investiture ceremony of Mgr J.R. de Rozario who was promoted to the rank of honorary Prelate of die Holy Father.
It was in recognition of his long and faithful service to the Archdiocese of Singapore and to the Apostolic Nunciature and the person of the Apostolic Pronuncio to the Republic of Singapore.
Concelebrating with the Vatican Ambassador were Archbishop Gregory Yong and 18 priests from the Archdiocese. Present also were representative groups from the various religious communities as well as council members of the Inter-Religious Organisation of which Mgr Rozario is the Catholic representative.
In his homily, Archbishop Tricarico commended Mgr Rozario for his loyalty to the Church, "For more than 50 years in the priestly ministry, you have been nothing but a priest. You have honoured the call of God. When God called you, you did not argue, you did not worry about the future. You are deeply convinced that God chooses the weak to confound the strong, and today, it is your very life we read in the Gospel."
On his faithful service to the Holy Father and his representative to Singapore, His Excellency had this to say, "Circumstances have been such that when the Nunciature started in Singapore, Mgr Rozario offered his generous and silent services. The Holv Father has Been duly informed and he is extremely pleased to bestow on you the tide of prelate."
Then in a simple but moving ceremony, the Vatican Ambassador clothed Mgr Rozario with the official insignia granting him the papal honour and the privileges attached to this dignity. In turn, Mgr Rozario promised faithful service to the Church, to be a shining example of service and a pillar of loyalty to the Holy Father.
Archbishop Tricarico was also full of praises for the local Church, when he added, 'The Archdiocese has been blessed with excellent priests, Brothers and Sisters. Continue in this lovely ministry." He then wished Mgr Rozario many active years in his priestly ministry, made meaningful in Christ. Mgr Rozario was appointed the first local Rector of the Cathedral in 1965. Dr (Rev) Robert P. Balhetchet, currently the second local Rector was also present to congratulate him. "We are all particularly pleased to have his Investiture take place today in the Cathedral to which he still offers his services so willingly and gladly whenever needed. We rejoice with you, Mgr, and assure you of a special place in our prayers.
After the Mass, a reception was held at the Archbishop's House for the congregation and invited guests. All preparations for the Investiture ceremony were in the hands of Dr Balhetchet and his group of dedicated helpers. Mgr Rozario, editor of the Catholic News since October 1972, has earned the respect and love of many people in the Archdiocese. As a tribute the Catholic News carries a feature article on his 49 years of active ministry as a priest. See page 9.
The Catholic News, February 18, 1990, page 1
Mgr Rozario-a friend to all
MGR J.R. de Rozario, editor of Catholic News, was born Feb 1,1914 in Malacca, the cradle of Catholicism in South- East Asia. His primary school education was entrusted to die IJ Sisters, from where he proceeded to St Francis Institution for his secondary education.
In his youth, Mgr Rozario was an altar boy, and at the age of 17, he joined the Minor Seminary, Singapore on Easter Monday, 1931. Three years later, he joined the Major Seminary in Penang.
After completing his studies in Penang, he was sent to Batu Gajah from Dec 1939-1940. It was here that he started his Chinese studies by learning the Hakka dialect. He was finally ordained by the late Bishop Adrian Devals, in the College General, Pulau Tikus, Penang, Dec 3,1940.
After his ordination, Mgr Rozario was assigned to Seremban for a year before going to Singapore in Dec 9,1941, where he was attached to Ss Peter and Paul's Church. Here he learnt Teochew and experienced the rigours of the Japanese war. Whilst in this parish, he was also appointed as Chaplain to the community of Sisters and boarders at Canossa Convent Aljunied Road. When Singapoie fell to the Japanese, the late Bishop Devals instructed him to stay at the Convent and start a new parish. This was the beginning of what is now the flourishing parish of the Queen of Peace, Tanjong Katong Rd and St Stephens, Sallim Road.
He also served in the Church of the Holy Family, Katong; St Joseph's Church, Bukit Timah and St Anthonys Church in Mandai.
It was always a joy for him to visit his humble parishioners, mainly farmers in Mandai, and be a friend and pastor for them. Mgr Rozario also served at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, Singapore as Acting parish priest to relieve the late Fr Bonamy. In September, 1950, His Grace the late Archbishop Olcomendy sent Mgr Rozario to Australia to gain experience in newspaper production. On his return to Singapore, he was for a short time residing in Sacred Heart Church, Tank Rd assisting Fr Peter Chin. Assuming the duties ot Assistant Editor and Manager of the Catholic News in 1952, he resided at the Archbishop's House and was chaplain to the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary in 1953. In 1964, he was appointed the first local priest to be parish priest of the Cathedral of die Good Shepherd where he remained till 1974. On his return from leave he was appointed assistant to Immaculate Heart of Mary. Then in 1978 he was back in Archbishop's House to take over the duties of Procurator/ Chancellor of the Singapore Archdiocese.
Besides his duties as Editor of the Catholic News, Procurator and Chancellor of the Singapore Archdiocese, Mgr J. R. de Rozario has been the Catholic representative in the Inter- Religious Organisation, the Archbishop's representative on the Board of Management, Christian Brothers' Schools; Spiritual Director of the Serangoon Curia of die Legion of Mary.
- by Sr Marilyn Lim
The Catholic News, February 18, 1990, page 9