Exclusive interview with Rt Rev Bishop Richard Ng

Q: What was your childhood like and what was your ambition then?
A: I grew up in Kuching and had a normal Catholic family childhood. After my Form 6 in 1985, I worked one year as a site supervisor, and a few months in a laboratory. In 1987, I joined the seminary and graduated in 93.

Q: What inspired you to become a priest? When and how did you answer the call to serve?
A: When I was in secondary school, probably Form 3 or Form 4, the La Salle brothers were then looking after the school. One in particular, Brother Columba, was a great inspiration to me in his dedication and commitment to serve the people. I was attracted to his way of life. I thought that was a meaningful way to live my life.
I was thinking that when I finished school, I wanted to join them. So that was how it started. Even while I was in secondary school, I was not preparing for other things, I roughly knew what I wanted to do, and did not bother to apply for university. After Form 6, I needed to work, and was a site supervisor for a year and spent a few months working in a laboratory before joining St Peter’s College.
I suppose, God’s calling for vocation works in mysterious ways where we cannot put our finger on it. We can’t really explain everything. It is just the draw, the interest. When God calls us, you know it inside. You cannot explain. Even when I joined the seminary, I still could not visualise myself as a priest and only told myself to try. Year after year, before I knew it, I was ready for ordination as a priest.

Q. It is the norm rather than the exception for Bishops in Sarawak to be multilingual. What languages or dialects do you speak and preach in?
A: In school, we were exposed to different languages. The three main languages – Bahasa Malaysia, English and Chinese – and I speak some Bidayuh dialects and a little bit of Iban. I hope to pick up other languages. That should not be a problem.

Q: Who has most encouraged and helped you reach this moment?
A: My parents have been very supportive back then and still are. I have an elder brother and a younger sister. My Bishop in Kuching, fellow priests and close friends were very supportive. They helped me when I had issues.

Q: What were your thoughts and feelings when you were informed of your new calling?
I was first informed by my Bishop that the Apostolic Nuncio wanted to see me. So I flew to KL and when I met him, he asked me to sit down and told me that the Pope had appointed me as Bishop of Miri Diocese and asked me “Do you accept?” Ha. What could I say? If the Pope has appointed me, how could I turn the Pope down? Out of obedience to the Pope, I said: “Yes, I will accept.” Of course with quite a heavy heart as it means a lot of responsibility and a lot is demanded of me. I have my fears and reservations about myself – whether I can live up to this role but the people around me were all very encouraging, and affirmed my vocation as a priest.
As rector, I have always told my students that one of the most important qualities is obedience. This is how the church works, and as priests promise their obedience to the bishop, I have to accept it even though I was quite hesitant to accept this appointment. After praying, I have peace of mind that I have made the right decision. Since God has appointed me and called me to this new task and responsibility, he will give me the strength and grace that I need to fulfill this responsibility.

Compiled by Ben Chang

Source- The Borneo Post 24 Jan 2014

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