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Myanmar: Coadjutor bishop of Mawlamyine diocese ordained

Bishop Maurice Nyunt Wai

The episcopal ordination of Msgr Maurice Nyunt Wai as the Coadjutor of Myanmar, Mawlamyine Diocese took place in the Holy Family Cathedral of Mawlamyine, Mon State, Myanmar on April 24, 2022. 

In his homily, Cardinal Charles Bo, Archbishop of Yangon, spoke about the diocese. 

“We stand on Mount Sinai of Mawlamyine. Mawlamyine diocese resembles Mount Sinai,” he said. 

Bishop Raymond Saw Po Ray was the Moses, who was called in 1993 to be the bishop. 

For the last 30 years, he led the people of the diocese with great courage. Like Moses, when he took over, there was much burning bush:  poverty, unending conflict and displacement, forced migration of the youth, and human trafficking.  

Human and financial resources were scarce. He led the diocese with commitment and was always at the forefront of missionary initiatives. 

The bishop worked with Baptists and others hand in hand in alleviating the common issues.

Despite various challenges to his health and the herculean needs of the diocese, he showed untiring zeal in reaching out to the remotest corners of the country, the long strip infested with robbers and violence. 

Even today travel in those areas is a challenge, but the bishop remained steadfast. 

“His contribution to people is immeasurable. His contribution to the CBCM is historic as he strengthened the Justice and Peace Commission, and evolved the first-ever advocacy guidelines for the church. He has moved the Catholic church on its march for justice,” Bo said.

Speaking about Msgr Maurice Nyunt Wai, Cardinal Bo said that he is not new to this context. He has lived through, the joys and sorrows, anxieties and hopes of the Karen people. 

Wai has known people’s tears, he has known their dreams, through his long tenure as the pastor in many Karen parishes. He was an erudite scholar, a seminary professor, and an able administrator at the diocesan and the national level. He is a friend to people from all religions. 

The new prelate is blessed with commendable personal qualities, his fortified faith, and his pleasant and patient demeanor has been his hallmarks.  

Pope Francis is famous for his quote on pastors: Go to the sheep and come back with the smell of the sheep. 

“Surely this fits our bishop designate who is an indefatigable evangelizer all through his life, inspiring both through his life and proclamation,” Bo said.

Pope made it clear that the choice of a bishop is always to service, not to power or glory.

The Bishop-designate has chosen his motto the prayer of Jesus: “That They all may be One.”

This will be the first challenge the new bishop will face. Comparing the Church to the Mystical Body of Christ, St Paul says: “We are many, but parts of the same body and he understands some small hesitation in welcoming a bishop from another diocese.”

“I am sure the bishop designate will shape the Mawlamyine church into an evangelizing community inspired by the great example of the first Christians, who found great dignity in the diversity of gifts and unity of various kinds of people. The first Christian community was a welcoming community and Mawlamyine has been known for its warm welcome,” said the Cardinal.  

The church in Myanmar needs to heal itself and heal the nation. Jesus went about healing. 

Healing is the task of all the bishops of Myanmar.

Cardinal Bo said that the faithful of Mawlamyine is also like the first Christians. 

The first Christians were not rich. They were poor but they shared everything. Mawlamyine Diocese survived by sharing among the people, among the parishes. The Christians of this diocese were known for their rocklike faith despite all challenges. 

Cardinal said the situation of the diocese and the first task of the bishop is to make simple people miracle workers—to help people to believe in themselves; to believe in the living God.   

“So many challenges, how long they lived in conflicts, how long they lived with proper livelihood, and how long their children were denied a proper education,” he said. 

The diocese has lived through a long way of the Cross, suffering through conflicts, and huge displacement, the people could not come back for decades. 

They were like the biblical exile in Thailand and Malaysia. This exodus has left the Mawlamyine faithful one of the most wounded populations. It needs healing. 

“Our people have suffered enough. And let this day of consecration, consecrate our families and let there be peace everywhere,” said Cardinal Bo. 

Regarding the efforts made by Bishop Po Ray in the difficult situation of the diocese, Cardinal Bo said that Bishop Raymond tried his best to do that through an appeal to justice. That work needs to be continued.   

“The diocese has seen one of the most desperate human traffickings and we need to stop this by offering educational and employment opportunities for our people,” Bo said. 

As many as 10 bishops, about 100 priests, about 200 nuns from different congregations, and about 1,500 Catholics take part in the Episcopal Ordination. 

Thousands of Myanmar nationals in various countries joined the live-streaming event on the social media of Radio Veritas Asia Karen Service, CBCM-OSC, OSC Pathein, and OSC Mawlamyine. 

The diocese of Mawlamyine consists of the Southern half of Mon State and the whole Taninthayi Region. 

The Diocese is bordering Hpa-An Diocese in the North, Thailand in the East, and to the West Mataban and the Indian Ocean. The area of the Diocese is 40,964 Square Kilometers. - With additional reporting by Saw Hubert

 

Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.