Blessed Sacrament Church, led by its new Rector Fr Felix Au, and his team of Parish Councillors, organised a Retirement cum Birthday dinner for its long-serving rector Fr Lawrence Chua on September 5, 2017.
The function, held at a local hotel, was to celebrate Fr Chua’s 82nd birthday and 53 years of service in the Lord’s vineyard. It was graced by Archbishop Simon Poh, Sr Flora Tinggang, superior general of the Franciscan Order; priests, nuns and about 600 well-wishers, including several of Fr Chua’s family members.
The dinner kicked off with a video clip outlining Fr Lawrence Chua’s life as a young and handsome looking student, to the days when he decided to go into retirement.
It was a night well befitting a much-loved Parish priest, a good Shepherd, a supportive Father and a Friend to many who have known him throughout his priesthood. The many parishioners who came forward to participate in the video clip to wish Fr Chua ‘Happy Birthday’ and who gave video testimonies of how he has impacted their lives, is living proof of the love the community has for him.
Fr Chua was born in Mukah, Sarawak and is the first local born to be ordained a priest.
When Fr Lawrence Chua decided to continue his secondary school studies at St Joseph’s School Kuching, he came under the watchful eyes of the late Datuk Polycarp Sim who introduced him to Fr. Francis Hulschbosh of the Mill Hill Missionaries of Sarawak.
Fr Hulschbosh was instrumental in getting young Lawrence into St Peter’s Seminary (now St Peter’s College). In 1955, he entered St Francis Xavier’s Minor Seminary in Singapore and later proceeded on to Penang College General.
Fr Lawrence Chua was ordained a priest by the Vicar Apostolic of Kuching, Bishop John Vos, D.D.C.B.E. on December 13, 1964 in his hometown of Mukah. His family chartered an MSA twin pioneer aircraft to ferry the Vicar Apostolic, 13 Mill Hill priests, and 13 Franciscan nuns to accompany Fr Chua to celebrate this historic and memorable occasion.
The newly ordained priest gave his first priestly blessings to his mother and the first Sacrament of Reconciliation was administered to his grandmother.
Fr Chua has served in many parishes since then. He was appointed Assistant Rector of St. Joseph’s Church, Kuching in 1966. Between 1967-1969, Fr was the Vice Rector at St. Ann’s Mission, 10th Mile Penrissen Road where he founded the Young Christian Students movement (YCS).
Fr Chua also played a key role in the construction of the Siburan Community Centre. He initiated the mobile clinics at Siburan and Tapah Community Centres in collaboration with the Sisters of St Francis.
Fr was later tasked with the construction of a new Church in Kuching. The Holy Trinity Church at Kenyalang was declared open on 30th November 1972. Here, Fr Lawrence Chua introduced the Ladies Guild, the Altar Server Society, the English and Chinese choirs, the Charismatic Renewal movement and the Family block rosary.
Fr Chua left to pursue a Master’s degree in Theology at the Jesuit Gregorian University in Rome, Italy, from 1975-77. He became Vicar General and Rector for Holy Trinity Church upon his return.
Between 1979 to 1981, Fr. Lawrence Chua was assigned to teach Theology at General College Penang. He returned to become Vice Rector, then Rector, of St. Joseph’s Cathedral from 1982 to 1984.
Between 1986 to 1988, he was appointed Professor of Theology at St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary in Singapore.
The birth of the Emmaus Servant Community in 1992 provided the charismatic dimension in the spiritual life and worship at the Holy Trinity Church.
In 1993, Fr. Lawrence Chua was entrusted with the task of building another new church to serve the growing community at BDC, Stampin. By August 1995, a 2-storey hall was completed providing for 3 classrooms and an Upper Room for quiet time with the Lord. This was followed by the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in 1996.
Blessed Sacrament Church was completed at the end of 2002, two years after the ground-breaking ceremony officiated by then Archbishop Peter Chung. This church has the capacity to serve 2000 parishioners every Sunday. Fr Chua was appointed the Rector of Blessed Sacrament Church in February of 2003 and has since seen the extension of more classroom blocks completed.
Fr Chua has received several State Government awards, including being conferred the Dato’ ship for his untiring and selfless dedication in uplifting the educational standards of the people he served.
We wish Fr Lawrence Chua a very Happy Birthday and a Blessed Retirement.