The cassock, the religious habit of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, is a sign of consecration and a emblem of poverty which our Constitution calls a public witness of our religious identity and of our belonging to God and ought to be to us a second skin. It’s a burden, a visible symbol and a reminder, not only for others but for the wearer, of the duties and obligations that he has undertaken.
On the 29th of August, 2015, the Feast of the Passion of St. John the Baptist, the cassock was imposed on Bro. Andrew Khoo in his home parish of the Immaculate Conception, Penang, Malaysia, with the gracious permission of His Lordship Bishop Sebastian Francis of Penang and Msgr. Michael Cheah, the parish priest and the Vicar General of the Diocese. The solemn Mass was celebrated by His Lordship Bishop Emeritus Antony Selvanayagam of Penang, concelebrated by Msgr. Cheah and Fr. Santiago Vidal, IVE the Master of Novices of the Novitiate House in the Philippines. Also in attendance were Fr. Marshall Fernandez, Bro. Andrew’s former parish priest and Fr. Joe Matthews, OFM Cap and the Capuchin Postulants from the St. Felix of Cantalice Friary and House of Formation.
Some members of Sisters Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará were also present for this ceremony.
Also attending were His Excellency, Lieutenant of Honour, Knight Grand Cross Robert Peters, and Dame Grand Cross Dr. Molly Peters who flew in from Australia, Knight Commander Jeffrey and Dame Commander Joan Lim from Singapore as well as other Knights and Dames of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem of which Bro. Andrew Khoo is an invested Knight. Long time friend and benefactor Gillian Carroll also flew in from Oxford.
The members of Bro. Andrew’s family, including his father, brother and sister and their families, numerous aunts and uncles, cousins and nephews as well as many Godchildren and the youth which Bro Andrew ministered and who came from near and far made the event a memorable and joyous occasion.
Music for the Mass was provided by the Immaculate Conception Youth Latin Choir which Bro. Andrew founded and directed and the Mass was served by altar boys trained by him when he was the master of ceremonies for the parish. Also turning up in large numbers were members of the Marian Devotion group of which he founded many years ago as well as the students taught by Bro. Andrew when he was a catechist of the parish and preparing the children for their confirmation.
Fr. Santiago Vidal, in his homily, explained the significance of the cassock and called to mind the first ever clothing of man by God when Adam and Eve were clothes in animal skins to replace the fig leaves which they were wearing. This clothing with the skin of animals required sacrifice and the death of the animal was necessary to restore the dignity of the man through the clothing.
It was truly a joyful occasion and capped with a festive lunch hosted by the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre for Bro. Andrew and for the members of the Religious Family attending the event.
The following day, Fr. Santiago Vidal and Bro. Andrew had the chance to greet the Bishop of Penang, His Lordship Bishop Sebastian Francis, who came to the parish to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation and had the opportunity to thank him for granting his permission for the ceremony to take place in the diocese.
With the sincere prayers of those present, may Bro Andrew continue to persevere in his journey towards answering the call of God.