Fr Michael Thoo celebrates 50 years as a priest
26 April 2015
Herald Supplement on Vocation Sunday
Eighty-one years old Rev Fr Michael Thoo received thunderous applause from parishioners when Bishop Sebastian exclaimed loudly “We celebrate 50 GLORIOUS years with you!” at his speech during the Golden Jubilee Eucharistic Celebration of Fr Thoo.
The Eucharistic Celebration, with the theme ‘My soul magnify the Lord’ was held at the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, Penang on 14 April 2015. About 35 priests from the Diocese of Penang were in attendance, including Bishop Emeritus Antony Selvanayagam.
The main con-celebrants were Archbishop Julien Leow and Bishop Sebastian Francis, with Deacon Samuel Clement joining in.
The priests from out of Penang Diocese were Archbishop Emeritus Soter Fernandez, Msgr Daniel Lim and Fr. Philip Muthu from Archdiocese of KL and Msgr James Rajendran from Melaka Johor Diocese
Also present to witness the happy occasion were Rev Stephen Soe, a pastor from the Anglican church and Tan Sri Lim Leong Seng, who works in the Finance Department of Archdiocese of KL.
In Archbishop Julien’s homily, he remarked that all the three readings of the day give some clue to the kind of person Fr Thoo is.
“In the first reading (Micah 6:2-8), Prophet Micah said what God asked from us, is to act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly. That is exactly what Fr Thoo had done.” said Archbishop Julien. “How Fr Thoo carries himself, the way he act and live is so simple and humble. Walking humbly and acting justly is what he does, not for selfish reasons but all for God. He is unassuming and has integrity and always ensure that what is due to the parish or diocese as Financial Administrator, will not be lost.”
Referring to the second reading (1 Peter 5:2-4), he said this is what Fr Thoo is, a shepherd who cares for his flock, and not lord over his flock.
Archbishop Julien continued “As we celebrate with him, let us pray for him and learn from him how to truly remain faithful to the Lord, and how to response with justice, tenderness and humility, walking in love with loyalty to God and the diocese, and oath he had taken 50 years ago. Let us imitate him to serve God in whatever capacity we can.”
“God must have love Fr Thoo so much as he had given 50 years of service to Him.” said the organizing committee chairperson, Joyce Lee, in her speech. “It was such a great honor and privilege for us to celebrate his Golden Jubilee. We remember the beautiful years he was with us as parish priest for 10 years, and now as assistant parish priest.”
Joyce said that Fr Thoo has a great love for Our Lady and it shows in the theme he choose for the celebration. He meant what he had chosen – his soul really magnifies the Lord as faithful pastor in the Lord’s vineyard for 50 years!
Fr Thoo was the next person to give a speech.
He mentioned that when Mary said ‘yes’ to God, she was not fully aware what she had to do and what lies ahead. She did not know that her son is going to suffer and die.
“Similarly, when I first respond to the priesthood, I was not aware of what I have to undertake. Things then gradually unfold when I was in the seminary. During the past 50 years, there were ups and downs but I was able to keep my love for God and for the people, with the help of Mary and the support of the people. Thus, today, I can say with conviction that I have made it! It is worth it! With Mary, I can say, my soul glorify the Lord and my Spirit rejoices in God, my Saviour.”
The 600 odd parishioners break into loud applause at this and some cheered. Fr Thoo ended his speech by thanking the organizing committee, which was presided over by parish priest, Fr Nelson Chitty and to all the con-celebrants and all who had come to share his golden years joy.
In Bishop Sebastian’s speech, he hailed Fr Thoo’s 50 glorious years as Father, teacher and intercessor. Pointing out that Fr Thoo had been through four Bishops in the Diocese of Penang, he also highlight that Fr Thoo was Diocesan Finance Administrator for many years, up to the time when he came in as Bishop.
“On behalf of everyone, I would like to sincerely thank Fr Thoo’s parents who had given us such a bountiful harvest in Fr Thoo!” he said to the applause of everyone.
After all the speeches, there was a cake cutting ceremony, in which everyone sang a song to Fr Thoo, while Archbishop Julien, Bishop Sebastian and Msgr Daniel Lim blessed him.
Fellowship with both Chinese food and Indian food followed after the Mass, and many people can be seen crowding round Fr Thoo to wish him happy golden jubilee.
– by Lucia Lai
WHERE FR THOO HAS SERVED IN THE PENANG DIOCESE
1965 Assistant priest of St Anthony’s Church, Teluk Intan, Perak
1968 Assistant priest of St Michael’s Church, Ipoh, Perak
1973 Parish priest of St Michael’s Church, Alor Setar, Kedah
1979 Attended the East Asian Pastoral Institute, Manila and obtained a diploma of Religious Education.
1980 Parish priest of Church of the Immaculate Conception, Penang
1985 Penang Diocesan Financial Administrator and member of Council of Priests.
1992 Administrator of Church of the Assumption, Penang
2002 Parish priest of City Parish, Penang and member of the College Consultants
2011 Assistant parish priest of City Parish.