At the funeral of Monsignor Anthony Thomas on 27th September, 2017, many parishioners of St. Joseph as well as a few priests asked me why the funeral did not take place here in our parish of St. Joseph Sentul, as the late Monsignor Thomas had served here for 22 years, which was longer than he had served in any of the other parishes in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur.
After some deliberation and discussion with a few individuals (clergy and laity), I decided that holding the 40th Day Memorial service in our parish would be a fitting tribute to Msgr. Thomas who had touched the lives of so many people here.
Some of the individuals who came forward included Neubert Ambrose, who volunteered to take on the responsibility of Organising Chairman for the 40th Day Memorial Mass, Jillian Thomas (booklet preparation), Gabriel Moses, Mary Bernadette Peters, Gregory William, Nicholas Asirvatham and Joshua Jude (committee members in charge of logistics, food & beverage and the evening entertainment). In a short period of time, they managed to coordinate, plan and execute this memorial celebration successfully.
Close to 1,000 people attended the memorial Mass which was held on Sunday, 5th November. The 13 clergy and con-celebrants included Cardinal Soter Fernandez, Archbishop Emeritus Murphy Pakiam and Archbishop Julian Leow. We began the celebration of life of late Monsignor with the Vespers (the evening prayer of the Church) at 5.45 pm. The Memorial Mass started at 6.00 pm celebrated by Fr. V.A. Michael and assisted by Frs. James Gabriel and Jean Claude. These three priests were sent by the late Monsignor to the seminary in 1980s.
Immediately after the Mass the congregation adjourned to the St. Joseph Community Hall where Archbishop Julian Leow unveiled a plaque renaming the Hall “Dewan Monsignor Anthony Thomas.” The late Monsignor had built the St. Joseph Community Center in 1987 and it is the first legacy of his, followed by two other community centers at Church of Visitation, Seremban and Church of the Sacred Heart, Kuala Lumpur. During dinner, both our Tamil and English choral groups entertained us with music and songs composed by the late Monsignor. All those who came that evening felt contented and went home with fond memories.
On behalf of the 40th Day of Memorial Mass Committee, I would like to personally thank our parishioners and the parishioners of the Church of St Aloysius, Mantin as well as everyone who had penned down your thoughts and fond memories of the late Monsignor and for sparing your memorable photographs of him for us. There is a saying, “Memories are old but the pen is fresh.” Your fresh pen through contribution of articles and also photographs for the booklet has revived and refreshed many people’s old memories. This Memorial Mass and fellowship was our tribute to the late Monsignor Anthony Thomas who had rendered his service to the Church in Malaysia. He lived his priestly life for 52 years and grew faithful communities with love, faith and charity. During these five decades he was truly a priest, pastor, friend, builder, liturgist and a musician. We love you and we cherish you always!
“In you, Lord. I have found my peace,” (Ps 131).
Fr. George Packiasamy