Msgr Bernard Paul was episcopally ordained on Jan 12. He takes over from Bishop Paul Tan. Photo: FRANCIS GOPAL

JOHOR BAHRU – Msgr Bernard Paul, formerly a vicar-general of Penang diocese, was ordained a bishop for the Melaka-Johor diocese on Jan 12.

Seventeen archbishops and bishops, 200 priests and Religious from the region and 4,000 laypeople attended the ceremony at Persada International Convention Centre in Johor Bahru.

Bishop Paul, 62, takes over from Jesuit Bishop Paul Tan, who has headed the diocese since 2003.

In his homily, Bishop Emeritus Tan advised the bishop-elect: “As a father and a brother, love all those whom God places in your care. Love the priests and deacons who share with you the ministry of Christ. Love the poor and infirm, strangers and the homeless. Encourage the faithful to work with you in your apostolic task; listen willingly to what they have to say.”

Addressing the congregation at the end, apostolic nuncio to Malaysia Archbishop Joseph Marino urged the new bishop to undertake the mandate of teaching, governing and sanctifying the people of the diocese.

“You will have the support and closeness of all the people, the priests, Religious and laity of Melaka-Johor as you journey with them in encountering people where they live, in their cities and homes and in their workplaces,” he said.

In his inaugural address, Bishop Bernard told the gathering said that he is bound to do what God wants him to do even if what is to be done may not be what he personally likes.

He added that he would ensure continuity in the diocese.

At the end of the ceremony, the new bishop walked among his flock and gave them his blessings.

By Vincent  D’Silva