New Shepherd for the Catholic Church of Nepal
– Largest ever gathering of Catholic faithful in Nepal –
Right Reverend Paul Simick, the new Apostolic Vicar of Nepal and brother to Cecilia Simick, SCN, was consecrated Bishop and installed as the head of the Nepal’s Catholic Church at a solemn celebration held on Sunday June 29, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul at St. Mary’s School auditorium, Jawalakhel, Lalitpur.
His Excellency Salvatore Pennacchio, Apostolic Nuncio to Nepal and India was the principal Consecrator and he was assisted by Bishops Anthony Sharma, bishop emeritus of Nepal and Stephen Lepcha, Bishop of Darjeeling. Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Kolkata, Bishop Anthony Fernandes of Bareilly, Bishop J.B. Thakur of Muzaffarpur, Bishop Thomas Thuruthimattam of Gorakhpur and Bishop John Vadakkel of Bijnor were also present for the consecration. Msgr. Lawrence Pascal, the diocesan administrator of Bettiah, Msgr. Romanus Mbena from the Nunciature, a number of Provincials superior of different religious congregations and priests from within Nepal and outside (about 85), were also present. It was the biggest ever gathering of the Catholic faithful in Nepal and they numbered about 2,500 filling the auditorium to the maximum capacity and beyond. Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, Moslem and other religious leaders were present at the ceremony along with civil authorities, political and civic leaders and ambassadors and other diplomatic corps representing different nations and organizations in Kathmandu. For the first time in the history of the country the ceremony was telecast live by the Nepal Television for two full hours as a national event.
The guests were all welcomed with specially prepared khada and flowers. The ceremony began at 9.45 with a solemn procession led by traditional Nepali musicians, the servers, priests, Msgr. Simick and the Prelates. They were led to the specially prepared altar on the tastefully decorated stage, and the rite of Episcopal Ordination began at 10.00 a.m. A special set of stoles were prepared for the concelebrants on this occasion with the coat of arms and the motto of the new Bishop (Lucerna Pedibus Meis Verbum Tuum) on it prepared with Nepali ‘Dhaka’ cloth. It was done gratis by a devout Buddhist who happened to hear about the Episcopal Ordination. The outgoing Vicar Apostolic Anthony Sharma welcomed the Nuncio and other special guests to the function at the beginning of the ceremony.
At the end of the Episcopal Consecration the priests of the Vicariate pledged their allegiance to the new Vicar Apostolic individually and the religious men working in Nepal were represented by their superiors. After the Ordination the Mass continued in Nepali and the new Bishop was the main celebrant.
In his address the Apostolic Nuncio asked the new Bishop to work with the poor and the marginalized people of the country and proclaim the word of God and to bring His Word wherever appropriate. He also thanked Bishop Anthony Sharma, for his contribution to the Catholic Church and the country.
In his thanksgiving address at the end of the Mass the new Bishop said “I am very happy. I thank God that he chose me for such a great responsibility. I pledge to take care of the Church of Nepal as a true shepherd and through my work I shall try to follow the example of Saint Paul. I am here to serve God’s Word and follow His will. Please, pray for me! I shall follow the guidance of Pope Francis and bring God’s word throughout the country.” He also mentioned that it is not a task for the Bishop alone but a united endeavor together with priests, religious and laity. He also thanked all participants, diplomats, politicians and all those who contributed in many ways to make the ceremony a memorable one.
This day will be remembered by the Catholics of Nepal as a special one for days to come.
The guests from far and near were accommodated by the priests and religious houses even some of the families gave them place to stay and take them around. From the Simick Family Maternal uncle and paternal uncle [ both belonging to protestant group ] along with many relatives and friends had come from Sikkim, Kalimpong, Darjeeling and other places. We humbly bow to the Lord of wonders to have made our brother Paul Simick worthy of this special Call and pray that God may guide and help him to be real shepherd of the flock of Nepal. We missed our beloved parents who passed away last year , On behalf of Simick Family I extend my heart-felt gratitude to each and every one who have supported with your prayers, encouragement and your very presence. Please do continue to keep him in your prayers because his task is great.
Sister Cecilia Simick, SCN