It was 10.26 am when I heard the news that Fr John Chia had passed away at Bintulu hospital almost 20 minutes ago.
All those who have had the privilege to know him in his life are grieving his loss.
While the reality that he has left us is difficult to accept, I want to focus instead on the person he was to me personally.
I first met him 8 years ago in Miri. He was one of the Speakers at the Working Youth Conference (WYC) that year.
He was a friendly, energetic and charismatic man and the youths were very close to him.
Although we just met, it was not long for me and my friends to also be comfortable around him even before the end of the conference.
I was in Brunei at the time, and once I met him at Church of Our Lady of Assumption, Bandar Seri Begawan when he was in town.
WYC was an annual event, hosted alternately between Miri and Bintulu, that meant I saw him only 2 years later in Miri again:
In 2015, I moved to Bintulu and it was there that I learned more about him.
A gifted musician and singer, speaker and leader, he was adored and admired by his parishioners no matter where he was based. For a time, he was based in St. Anthony’s Church in Bintulu, but he was already assigned elsewhere when I arrived. But we would still see him now and again for diocesan or parish events.
Little did I know that Nov 2019 was the last time that I would see him personally… and only on the live stream of the Diaconate Ordination of Deacon Henry and Deacon Ronald in Feb 2020…
A special Mass will be said for him (LIVE at St. Edmund Church Limbang Facebook Page) at 7.00pm tonight, followed by rosary prayers tonight and for next 7 consecutive nights…
O God, Thou didst raise Thy servant, Fr John Chia, to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ, according to the Order of Melchisedech, giving him the sublime power to offer the Eternal Sacrifice, to bring the Body and Blood of Thy Son Jesus Christ down upon the altar, and to absolve the sins of men in Thine own Holy Name. We beseech Thee to reward his faithfulness and to forget his faults, admitting him speedily into Thy Holy Presence, there to enjoy forever the recompense of his labors. This we ask through Jesus Christ Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
Rest in peace, Father…
You were a wonderful Shepherd and you are missed by us all…
Eternal rest grant unto the soul of Fr John Chia, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.