Msgr William Goh, who has been appointed coadjutor archbishop, shares his dreams
“I feel humbled … to assume this office,” said Msgr William Goh after it was announced that Pope Benedict XVI had appointed him Coadjutor Archbishop of Singapore.
However, the rector of the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary said he is “happy” God has considered him “worthy to be an instrument to renew the faith of the people in Singapore, to give life, to give hope to humanity”.
The Vatican made the announcement of Msgr Goh’s appointment on Dec 29. As of press time, no date has yet been set for his episcopal ordination.
A coadjutor archbishop assists the archbishop in the administration of the archdiocese, and has the right to succession upon the latter’s retirement, resignation or death.
Under Canon Law, diocesan bishops are required to tender their resignation when they reach 75 years of age.
Archbishop Nicholas Chia turns 75 in April.
Msgr Goh told CatholicNews that as coadjutor archbishop, he would assist Archbishop Chia and “take whatever responsibilities he would delegate to me”.
He also plans to take the time to study the issues involved in the administration of the archdiocese so that he would have concrete plans when he becomes archbishop.
He is well aware of the enormous task before him.
“I can say there’s a feeling of trepidation of the challenges ahead because I know the Church is going through a difficult time internally and externally.”
This is due to increasing secularisation and relativism of the world, he explained.
He shared that he took up the appointment because of “obedience” to God.
“If God has chosen me, how can I say no,” he said. “I believe God knows what is best. He knows my limitations, my inadequacies, my imperfections but God will see me through.”
Msgr Goh, 55, said he looks forward to sharing with the faithful the charisms he feels he has been blessed with, such as ministering, teaching, preaching and organising.
He also hopes to be a bishop who is “pastoral minded, to reach out to the people”.
Msgr Goh said he plans to spend the next few months understanding “the sentiments of the priests, the laypeople” before finalising his plans.
Empowering and renewing the spiritual life of priests is important, and there needs to be greater unity among priests and Religious as they are the leaders of the Church, Msgr Goh pointed out.
He also stressed the need to “empower the laity” so they can share in the responsibilities of teaching and evangelisation.
His major area of concern is the new evangelisation, which is “what I think the Church really needs now”.
“We really need to re-evangelise Catholics,” he stressed, adding that many are lukewarm in their faith.
Msgr Goh hopes to tap into the ideas and zest of young people to help the Church grow and added that he intends to explore ways to evangelise through the media.
In addition to examining more effective ways of catechising adults, young people and children to help them have a personal encounter with Christ, he would place an emphasis on family life, he said.
Msgr Goh also stressed the importance of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.
“What I hope for in my episcopacy is to be a brother to my priests and to be a father to the laity,” he said, adding that “at the end of the day”, the goal is to build a vibrant, faith-filled and evangelising Church.
He also praised Archbishop Chia for his contributions to and initiatives for the archdiocese.
“We are always building on the strengths and achievements ... of those who have preceded us,” Msgr Goh said.
A statement released by the Archdiocese Communications Office said that Msgr Goh will assist Archbishop Chia “in the entire governance of the diocese and take his place if he is absent or impeded”.
“In due course, Msgr Goh will succeed Archbishop Chia as Archbishop of Singapore when he retires, at a date still to be announced.”
“We offer our fervent prayers and thank God with great rejoicing for having chosen Msgr William Goh, and we thank Msgr Goh for accepting the responsibility of Coadjutor Archbishop of our Archdiocese,” said Archbishop Chia.
Mr Joseph Toh, vice chairman of SACCRE (Singapore Archdiocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal), told CatholicNews that Msgr Goh is “spiritually gifted” and “knowledgeable” about the Catholic faith.
Msgr Goh, who is SACCRE’s spiritual director, is “humble”, understanding and works well with others, Mr Toh added.
By Darren Boon
Msgr William Goh, who will turn 56 in June, attended Montfort School. He completed his seminary studies at the College General in Penang, Malaysia, and at St Francis Xavier Major Seminary (SFXMS) in Singapore.
He was ordained on May 1, 1985, at the Church of the Holy Family. He was assistant priest at Church of the Holy Cross from 1985-1989 and parish priest of St Anne’s Church from 1992-1993.
Msgr Goh studied in Rome from 1990-1992 and attained a Licentiate in Dogmatic Theology from Pontificia Universita Gregoriana.
Since 1992, Msgr Goh has been teaching Systematic Theology at SFXMS and has held different position there, such as Initiation Year Director, Dean of Studies, and Procurator. He became seminary rector in 2005.
Msgr Goh was a member of the Theological Advisory Commission of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences from 1995-1999.
His present appointments also include being a member in the Senate of Priests, a member in the Council of Consultors, and ex-officio member of the Archdiocesan Vocation Team.
He is also spiritual director of the Catholic Spirituality Centre (CSC), Singapore Archdiocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal (SACCRE), Jesus Youth and Amplify Ministry.
At the time of interview, Msgr Goh said he still holds his current appointments until further advised by Archbishop Chia.