‘Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you.’ Matt 25:34

BSC KUCHING: Sarawak’s first local-born priest Rev Fr Dato Lawrence Chua passed away last Sunday, 24 October. He was laid to rest at the Catholic Cemetery of St Joseph’s Cathedral after the Funeral Mass on 28 October 2021.

The urn containing Fr Chua’s cremated ashes was brought to St Joseph’s Cathedral from Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto, Blessed Sacrament Church (BSC) at BDC Stutong, earlier that morning.

Fr Chua’s remains had been lying in repose in front of the grotto altar for 3 days of Wake Prayers, commencing from 3.00 pm on 25 October when it was brought to the grotto by Archbishop Simon Poh.

Wake Prayers comprising hourly recitation of the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet by prayer groups and ministries of Blessed Sacrament parish, were live-streamed via the Archdiocese of Kuching YouTube and Facebook channels throughout this duration. This enabled the faithful to join in the online prayers for Fr Chua during this pandemic time.

The Rector of BSC, Fr Patrick Heng also celebrated Requiem Masses for the repose of the soul of Fr Lawrence Chua from 25 – 28 October. Parishioners who had to comply with strict SOP requirements, filled the Church to attend Mass and to pay their last respects at the grotto during the 3 days of Wake Prayers.

Fr Chua had served as BSC Rector from 2003 until his retirement from active ministry in 2017. He remained staying at BSC where he continued his pastoral duties, albeit on a lesser scale.

Requiem Mass at St Joseph’s Cathedral

At the morning Requiem Mass celebrated on 28 October, Archbishop Simon Poh led a small procession to bring Fr Chua’s remains into the cathedral to be placed in front of the altar, so he could partake of the Eucharistic celebration with his fellow priests one last time.

Only priests, religious, family members of Fr Lawrence Chua, and selected community members were allowed to attend the Mass, held in accordance with strict UNIFOR SOP requirements that limited attendance to only 100.

The Funeral Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Simon Poh and concelebrated by Archbishops Emeriti Dato’ Sri Peter Chung and Dato John Ha, together with about 30 priests.

Archbishop Simon shared that Fr Chua’s last wish was to have the Wake at his beloved grotto at BSC. Although he had prepared for Fr Chua’s eventual passing, he was still hit very hard by the news, especially when “I collected his remains from the crematorium and brought it to Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto at Blessed Sacrament Church,” he said.

The Archbishop also read out the condolence message that he had received from the Governor of Sarawak, Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, who was an old friend and schoolmate of Fr Chua. The prelate extended his deepest condolences, together with that of the clergy and religious faithful, to the family of Fr Chua at this time of their loss.


In paying tribute to Fr Lawrence Chua, Archbishop Simon said: “He lived his priestly life faithfully, leaving behind physical buildings like Holy Trinity Church and Blessed Sacrament Church as a living legacy of his ministry as a priest. May he hear his master and the Lord say to him as a faithful servant of God (Matt 25:34) Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you.’

Archbishop Emeritus John Ha who had served alongside Fr Chua for many years, paid a sterling tribute to him, considering him as one who “had the trappings of a great leader in society who gave everything up in favour of what he discerned to be God’s call on him to be a priest.” Someone who “displayed greatness and channelled all God-given talents to serving in love, serving the people God put under his charge” and “be a servant for all.”

The Emeritus said Fr Chua’s policy of, “only the best was good enough for God and for his people” was reflected in the physical buildings and his demands on the community in the parish. The facilities he built were for his people, the community, to share faith and be well formed in their faith. He said Fr Chua’s real legacy was “a life of obedient faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour and his desire to follow Jesus to his heavenly Father in his kingdom, led and empowered by the Holy Spirit.”

Archbishop Emeritus John echoed Archbishop Simon’s scripture quote: Come, you whom my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you.’ “Our faith and hope give us the confidence that Fr Chua will be in God’s kingdom,” he surmised.

In a parting address to Fr Lawrence Chua, the Emeritus asked him to “pray for us when you enter the Lord’s kingdom.”

The procession to the burial ground for interment at St Joseph’s Cathedral Cemetery commenced immediately after the celebration of the Requiem Mass, and incensing of Fr Lawrence Chua’s remains by Archbishop Simon Poh.

More photos will be uploaded later.

By Ivy Chai
Photos: John Lai