ASIA/MALAYSIA - The ecclesial community of Malaysia welcomes and prepares for the baptism of more than 1,700 adults

Tuesday, 12 March 2024 baptism   evangelization   local churches  

Kuala Lumpur (Agenzia Fides) - In recent years, the Catholic community in Malaysia has registered an increasing number of adults requesting baptism. Adults wishing to be baptized undertake a path corresponding to the "Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults" that the various dioceses have organized in response to the growing number of requests from parishes. More than 1,700 Malaysian catechumens are currently preparing to receive baptism at the Easter Vigil 2024. A total of 547 catechumens from various parishes met in the Church of the Holy Family in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur together with catechists, godparents, priests and numerous believers for the "Rite of Election". Archbishop Julian Leow reminded them of Abraham's faithfulness, who was willing to sacrifice his only son Isaac out of obedience to the Lord. The Archbishop also emphasized the obedience of Jesus, who was faithful to his mission: to sacrifice himself to bring salvation to all. The Archbishop reminded those chosen of their obligation to remain faithful to God: "In the rite of election, God has personally called you to belong to his chosen people. This is a beautiful thing that must be celebrated." In the Archdiocese of Kota Kinabalu, a total of 941 catechumens from 20 parishes in the area were officially registered in the "Book of the Elect". Archbishop John Wong, who presided over the special celebration at the Sacred Heart Cathedral, warmly welcomed them and invited each of them to ask themselves the key question: "Who is Jesus for you? Who is Jesus in your life now? Have you had any experiences with him? Have you accepted him as your God and Savior?". "Baptism is only the beginning of following Jesus", the Prelate said, reminding the catechumens that the choice to receive baptism "is a decision for life, not a passing fad". The Archbishop also urged them to continue to connect with Jesus through prayer, reading and reflection on the Word of God, "to cling to Jesus, to lean on him and to let him strengthen them."
The Diocese of Melaka-Johor also recently gathered 240 catechumens first for a spiritual retreat - the first post-pandemic retreat - and then for the celebration of the "Rite of Election" at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Johor Bahru. In his homily, Bishop Bernard Paul emphasized the importance of three special and indispensable gifts that baptismal candidates receive on their journey of faith: Christ Crucified, the Bible and the Eucharist. "Live and contemplate the beauty and power of these gifts in the time of personal preparation, but not only that, but throughout life", he said. The "Rite of Christian initiation of Adults" - explains the Malaysian Church - "is a spiritual path undertaken in the company of priests, catechists and with the support of the ecclesial community. It accompanies the discovery of faith through teaching, sharing, prayers, community services, communion and other forms of experiential exercises". The "Rite of Election" marks the end of the catechumenate period. In this rite, which usually takes place at the beginning of Lent, the ecclesial community, on the basis of the witness of the godparents and catechists and the will expressed by the catechumens, makes the "election" by inviting them to receive the sacraments of initiation. The catechumens sign their names in the "Book of the Elect" as a pledge of loyalty. During Lent they continue the journey with three "tests" (moments of spiritual study and discernment), reciting the "Creed" and the "Our Father". The process ends with the celebration of the Sacraments of Christian initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist) at the Easter Vigil. Of Malaysia's 23 million inhabitants, 60.4% are Muslim and 9.1% are Christian. The number of Catholics, spread across nine dioceses on Peninsular Malaysia and the island region of Borneo, is approximately 1.3 million. (PA) (Agenzia Fides, 12/3/2024)