For the next few days, we prayed like never before, given the challenges that the current global situation presented us at the moment. He was kept for a night (or even two), in the morgue at Bintulu Hospital, while awaiting for his COVID-19 blood test result.
It was a relief when the test result came out NEGATIVE. That meant he can be returned to his family and given a proper burial, unlike if it had been positive. Praise be to God!
But even then, there was still the Restricted Movement Order that is ongoing, an order that did not allow gatherings of people or travel within districts; stressing on the importance of social distancing to contain the spread of COVID-19…
It is not without challenges I am certain, but also by God’s grace, that they managed to bring him back to his hometown.
And 2 hours ago, he was laid to rest at Bakol Catholic Cemetery in Limbang.
Our dearest Fr John, it still feels like just a bad dream that you left us. That at any moment, we would wake up and still see your smile and hear your voice. Still hear you sing and listen to your teachings and advice. Still laugh at your jokes and enjoy your company.
As I watched the video of the funeral, I kept thinking about the Gospel we had 2 weeks ago about The Death of Lazarus. With Holy Week just around the corner, may we be strengthened by the words of Jesus: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 1:25)
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…