Saturday, 10th September will be a day that I will never forget. After the Sunset Mass, Fr. William Michael and I went out for a dinner. While we were having dinner I received a message via whatsapp saying that Rev. Fr. Phillips Muthu had passed away. I couldn’t believe it. Consequently, two other text messages came in saying the same. I quickly called and spoke over the phone with some of the parishioners in Terengganu. After speaking to them and finding out certain details of his passing, I still I couldn’t accept the fact of his death. I was shaken up and speechless for a few minutes.
Then, we were contacting some of the clergy to find out details on further arrangements especially in bringing the body back to Rawang. It was the weekend and all our priests had the Sunday Masses to celebrate as well as other pastoral commitments. Thank God I had Frs. Moses Rayappan and Jean Claude to assist me with the Sunday Masses.
After much discussion among our clergy, Frs. Mitchell Anthony, William Michael and I decided to leave on Saturday midnight. We arrived early in the morning and met with some of Fr. Phillips’ family members who were already there. That Sunday morning we went to Kemaman Police Station and obtained the necessary documentation in order to release his body from the hospital. It was very long waiting hours at the hospital mortuary and finally at about 2pm we got the clearance from the hospital.
Fr. Phillips Muthu had spent almost 5 fruitful years ministering not only to the Catholics but also the people of other faiths in the East Cost of Peninsular Malaysia. We had a very special thanksgiving Mass in honour of Fr. Phillips at about 2.30pm on Sunday at the Chapel of St. Philip Minh, before the coffin was to be taken to his home parish at Church of St. Jude, Rawang. There were approximately 350 parishioners from Kuala Terengganu, Dungun, Kemaman and Kuantan including the University students at the Eucharistic celebration. The Mass was animated by the University and College Students from Sabah and Sarawak who are studying in the state of Terengganu.
Fr. Philips always had a very special place in his heart for the varsity students and youths. He organised many programmes, spiritual formations, activities and outings for them. During their weekend or holidays these students will come and spend time with him and he never failed to look into their needs whenever they came to his house. He accommodated them well and made them happy.
The community of Terengganu has lost two shepherds who passed away while serving the community. The first was Fr. John Wang who died in 1989 at the age of 61 and now Fr. Phillips at the age of 56.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen!
Fr. Geoege Packiasamy