Msgr Eugene Vaz told the diners that Archbishop Chia had said to him that the celebration was not really about the archbishop; it was about the "church in Singapore".
"One of his vision is that the church in Singapore grows to be dynamic and thriving, and to be a community of faith and love," said Msgr Vaz, the "right-hand man" of the archbishop. "There are many presents we can give him but the best present is to give of us, to put ourselves – priests, religious and laypeople – together, to be one."
"You have a very stern-looking face, it’s something quite frightening," he addressed the archbishop, to much laughter. "But you have a lovely heart. That’s why all of us are here today, because, somehow, in some way, we have been touched by you. Thank you for your leadership, friendship, love."
A happy Archbishop Chia shared briefly on his calling to be archbishop and his response with the people gathered.
"I was the least capable and the most unworthy but God had other plans for me. I thank him for all these different experiences of a bishop," he said. "It’s not easy. I get a lot of attention and honour but I always remember, like on the day of my ordination, that I [want to be] just a mule, a donkey carrying Jesus."
He told them of his hope that "we can be more closely united and that all of us will form one body of Christ".- By Joyce Gan