On Tuesday, 31 August 2021 we will celebrate Malaysia’s 64th Independence Day or Hari Merdeka. It is the commemoration of Independence of the Federation of Malaya from British Colonial rule in 1957. In a couple of weeks, on Thursday, 16 September 2021, to be specific, we will celebrate the 59th Malaysia Day, which is the commemoration of the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak as well as Singapore joining the Federation of Malaya, in 1963 (Singapore then proceeded to leave the Federation of Malaya in August 1965). These two celebrations are significant days for us Malaysians, who proudly display our national flag with the spirit of patriotism.
The theme for Merdeka this year will once again be “Malaysia Prihatin” (Malaysia Cares) which is the same as last year’s. Once again, the National Day will be celebrated on a small scale at Dataran Pahlawan in Putrajaya, due to the ever increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the country. Malaysia Day will also be celebrated on a small scale, at the International Convention Hall in Kota Kinablau, Sabah.
Both celebrations will see the newly appointed Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yakoob in attendance. I was captivated with his opening address on Sunday, 22 August 2021 after he was sworn in as Malaysia’s 9th Prime Minister. He addressed the people as a “Malaysian Family” and I pray that these words are not just a concept or slogan for him, but that he truly sees and believes that our nation is in fact one family – united in our diversity and in our multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-lingual society. I also hope that all politicians set aside their differences and selfishness in order to work together to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, and to heal the nation’s economy during this most challenging time.
We are now at the start of the third quarter of 2021 and every year in September, the Clergy (Bishops, Priests and Deacons) of Peninsular Malaysia takes time off from all Parish Pastoral commitments to attend a week-long spiritual retreat. However, due to the pandemic restrictions, our annual retreat this year will be conducted online, by Retreat Master – Rev Fr Francis Gonsalves SJ, from Pune, India. The retreat will be held in two sessions – the first session will be from 6-10 September and the second session will be from 20-24 September 2021. During this time, we will listen to talks given by the Retreat Master and dedicate time for silent prayer, personal reflection and meditation. Our annual retreat is not only a time for us to experience personal and spiritual renewal, but also renewal of our ministry.
The Holy Father Pope Francis’ prayer intention for September will be “An Environmental Sustainable Lifestyle.” The Holy Father invites us to foster greater awareness of relationship between God, our Creator and humanity. During this month, we pray that “we all will make courageous choices for a simple and environmentally sustainable lifestyle, rejoicing in our young people who are resolutely committed to this.”
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy