ArchKL History Gallery (Updated on 13th August 2020)

The Early Christians in the Malay Peninsula

The earliest Christian evidence in the Malay Peninsula pre-dates the coming of the Portuguese by several centuries. There were probably Nestorian settlements in north-west of Malaya and in Northern Sumatra in the 7th Century. It was probable that Catholic visitors and diplomats passed through the Straits of Malacca in the 13th century, though mostly before the Sultanate of Malacca was established. As Malacca developed as a trading centre in the 15th century, among its trading community were people from a range of countries and religions including Christians from the Eastern Churches of West Asia, particularly Armenians and Persians.

The Latin Catholic Church in Malaysia traces its roots back to the capture of Malacca by the Portuguese …

1511
Catholicism was introduced into Malaya with the Portuguese conquest of Malacca. Alfonso D’Albuquerque under the flag of the Military Crusading Order of Christ with a fleet of 19 ships carrying 800 Portugese & 600 Indian troops capture Malacca. Included in the fleet were 8 chaplains. Among them were Fr. Domingos de Souza (Dominican), Fr. Alvaro Mergulhao (Secular priest) and another 6 Franciscans priests

1545 
St. Francis Xavier arrived for the first time in Malacca (His 5th and final visit to Malacca was in 1552, the year he returned to the Lord)

1557
Malacca was created a Suffragan See (diocese) under Goa, India by Pope Paul V. Bishop Jorge de Santa Luzia was appointed the head of the newly established Suffragan See

1641-1703
The Dutch conquest and occupation in Malacca

1646
Catholic Church on St Paul’s Hill Malacca built by the Portuguese was converted to Dutch Presbyterianism. (The remains of the church is now a tourist site with a tomb in it. It is believed to have been used to keep the remains of St Francis Xavier before it was sent to Goa, India) 

1710
The present St Peter’s church in Malacca was completed. It is the oldest functioning Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia

1786
The English, take formal possession of Penang and subsequently Malacca in 1795

1818
Suffragan See of Malacca was dissolved into the See of Goa, India and placed under the jurisdiction of the Vicar Apostolic of Ava and Pegu, Burma

1840
Responsibility for the Church in the Malay peninsula was temporarily transferred to the Vicar Apostolic of Siam

1841
Church in Malaya separated from the Vicariate Apostolic of Siam and made independent, known as Vicariate Apostolic of West Siam under the jurisdiction of the Société des Missions étrangères de Paris, MEP (Society of Foreign Missions of Paris) by Pope Gregory XVI

1848
The Church of Visitation, Seremban is officially open and blessed. This is the oldest functioning church in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur.

1888
Pope Leo XIII re-established the See of Malacca and raised into a diocese as a suffragan to Pondicherry, India. Monsignor Edward Gasnier was appointed the Bishop of the restored diocese

1901     
The Jubilee granted by His Holiness Pope Leo XIII in commemoration of the new century was celebrated in the Church of St John the Evangelist, Kuala Lumpur

21 August 1955
Malaya made an Ecclesiastical Province by Pope Pius XII comprising the Archdiocese of Malacca-Singapore with its first 2 local Bishops in the 2 Suffragan Sees:-

  • Bishop Dominic Vendargon of Kuala Lumpur and
  • Bishop Francis Chan of Penang.
  • Archbishop Michel Olçomendy, M.E.P. was the Archbishop of Malacca-Singapore.

1957
Malaya obtains independence from the British

1961
The Assunta Foundation Hospital in Petaling Jaya was officially opened under the care of Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM)

1962
The present Cathedral of St John’s was consecrated by Bishop Dominic Vendargon

1963
The existing States of the Federation of Malaya merge with the states of North Borneo (Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore and the union was renamed Malaysia

1968
His Majesty the Yang DiPertuan Agong on his 66th birthday conferred the Panglima Setia Mahkota (PSM) honour that carries the title “Tan Sri” to Bishop Dominic Vendargon

1969
During the ‘May 13’ incident, Bishop Vendargon issues a pastoral letter urging all Catholics to work together to alleviate the suffering all those affected by this untoward event in our country, as well as to be messengers of goodwill and to have mutual trust and confidence in all Malaysians

1972/3
Pope Paul VI elevates the Diocese of Kuala Lumpur to the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur. In the same instance, Bishop Dominic Vendargon also elevated to the status of Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur.

1974
1. The ‘Our Father’ prayer to be said in the National Language (Bahasa Malaysia) in all churches and all Sunday Masses throughout the Archdiocese.
2. Deacon AP Thomas is ordained as the first Permanent married Deacon for the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur.

1975
1. Marian Congress is held in Kuala Lumpur. Datuk Abdul Taib Mahmud, Minister for Inter-Religious Organisations was one of the honourable guests and delivered a speech at the opening.
2. St Thomas School, Pahang celebrates its Silver Jubilee. The Sultan of Pahang is the guest of honour. This school was founded by Rev Fr Louis Guittat, MEP in 1950.
3. Fourteen ladies receive their certificates as qualified Tamil catechists from Archbishop Dominic Vendargon after undergoing a two-year training course. This is the first such catechist training organised in Malaysia.

1976
Together with the two Suffragan Diocese, Penang and Johor Malacca, a month long Aggiornamento is held in Penang to lay plans for the renewal and formation of the Church in Peninsula Malaysia. Parishes are without their priests for one month. Lay services are conducted throughout Peninsula Malaysia for the entire month of August.

1978
1. Gethsemany Friary in Cheras opens its doors as a refugee camp to house the Vietnamese Boat people.
2. Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Klang celebrates its Golden Jubilee. This church was designed and built by the late Fr John Baptist Souhait of the Paris Foreign Missions Society.

1979
First National Christian Conference is held in Kuala Lumpur. A total of 120 delegates including bishops, clergy and laity from 11 churches and 36 para-churches attend the conference.

1980
Bishop Anthony Selvanayagam is elected as Auxiliary Bishop of Kuala Lumpur.

1981
Marriage Encounter and CHOICE weekends are held for the first time in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur. 

1982
Blessing and Opening of new Carmelite Monastery in Mantin, Negeri Sembilan.

1983
Archbishop Tan Sri Dominic Vendargon’s request to retire after 28 years was accepted by Pope John Paul II. Archbishop Anthony Soter Fernandez elevated and installed as the 2nd Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur.

1984     
1. Setting up of the Catholic Secretariat for the Bishops Conference of Malaysia. Fr Paul Tan SJ is appointed as Pro-Director for the Secretariat which will have its office in Kuala Lumpur.
2. Establishment of the Regional Bahasa Malaysia Commission of Peninsular Malaysia. Archbishop Soter Fernandez is appointed as the first President of the Commission.

1985
1. Establishment of Archdiocesan Prison Ministry under the Church of the Holy Family, Kajang
2. Members of the Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Brunei & Singapore attend their ad limina meeting with Pope John Paul II.

1986
1. Malaysian Catholic Education Council (MCEC) is formed in response to the concerns about the future Catholics education in Malaysia. Archbishop Anthony Soter Fernandez is its first President.
2. The Bishops of West Malaysia pooled their canon lawyers to form an inter-diocesan marriage tribunal, the Peninsular Malaysia Marriage Tribunal (PMMT) which was initiated with an office in Kuala Lumpur.
3. Nation-wide World Peace Day celebration organised by the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur is held at Stadium Negara. This celebration also tied-in with the United Nation’s observance of 1986 as the International Year of Peace.
4. Peninsular Malaysia Pastoral Convention I held in Port Dickson with 172 leaders (comprising bishops, clergy, religious and laity) participating in this 10 year follow up from 1976’s Aggiornamento.

1988
First Catechetical Seminar to update and upgrade the Parish Catechism Teachers is organised by the Peninsular Malaysia Catechetical Commission. Participants came from the three arch/dioceses in Peninsular Malaysia.

1989
Formation of Basic Ecclesiastical Communities in the Archdiocese (BECs)

1990
1. Launching of the Eucharistic Congress Year is held at Cathedral of St John.
2. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei made their Ad Limina visit to Rome.

1991
1. Approximately 20,000 faithful take part in the Eucharist Congress held at Monfort Boys’ Town Shah Alam. With the theme ‘Come : Union in Christ’, the congress was held with the intention of deepening of our faith and as a pilgrimage of spiritual renewal as well as to provide information on all aspects of the Eucharist at BEC’s, parish and district levels.
2. The Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) is officially adopted by the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur

1992      Nothing significant

1993      Nothing significant

1994
‘HERALD’, a Catholic fortnightly of the Peninsula Malaysia Church is launched at the Cathedral of St John. (It has since March 2001 switched to a weekly publication)

1995
Bishop Murphy Pakiam is ordained and elected as Auxiliary Bishop of Kuala Lumpur.

1996
Peninsula Malaysia Pastoral Convention II held in Majodi Centre in Plentong, Johor with 390 leaders participating in this follow up from 1976’s Aggiornamento

1997
Sekolah Menengah Stella Maris is now a full-fledged private secondary school. (Originally set up in 1969 as St Anthony’s School)

1998
Archbishop Soter Fernandez writes a special letter addressed to children. The letter is published in the four languages and circulated to all the Sunday School students in the Archdiocese.

Dec 1999
Inauguration of the Jubilee Year 2000 celebrations was marked with the blessing of the Jubilee Year Door at Cathedral of St John by Archbishop Anthony Soter Fernandez on 24th Dec. The following churches were designated as local pilgrimage centres in the archdiocese – Cathedral of St John KL, Church of Holy Family Kajang, Church of the Assumption Petaling Jaya, Chapel of St Anthony Carey Island, Church of St Jude Rawang, Church of the Visitation Seremban and Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Mentakab.

2000
1. In conjunction with the Jubilee Year 2000, the Bishops of Peninsular Malaysia introduce a Jubilee Solidarity Offering for each diocese. All Catholics, Parish Organisations, Religious Houses, Priests, Individual Parishes and Dioceses are called to give 10% of their income in the month of Sept for that year.
2. The Official Prayer of the Church (Liturgy of the Hours) is made available to the faithful in all languages and encouraged to be recited before the Morning/Evening Mass.
3. Official opening and blessing of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre
4. Official Opening and blessing of Sri Seronok Retirement Village in Cheras
5. Establishment of Archdiocesan Pastoral Council
6. A history book on the Catholic Church was launched by Archbishop Soter Fernandez. The book which covers the period from 1511 to 1996 and titled ‘The Journey of the Catholic Church in Malaysia’ was written by Sr Maureen Chew, IJ.

2001
The Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur marked the closing of the Jubilee Year with the launching of the Year of Renewing Family Life at the Cathedral of St John.

2002
Archdiocese Pastoral Assembly held at the Archdiocese Pastoral Centre with 240 participants

2003
Archbishop Anthony Soter Fernandez’s resignation is accepted by Pope John Paul II. Archbishop Murphy Pakiam installed as the 3rd Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur

2004
Census carried out throughout the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur (Records XXXX Catholics)

2005     
1. Golden Jubilee of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur with Youth Festival & Concert held on May 21 & 22. The Archdiocese official celebrations were held on 23 May with the theme ‘Harmony Through Reconciliation’.
2. Archbishop Emeritus Dominic Vendargon returns to the Lord.

2006
1. The new Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe Puchong receives the PAM Merit Award from the Malaysian Institute of Architects (Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia) for its design.
2. PMPC III is held from 2nd to 5th Oct at Majodi Centre, Plentong, Johor – 618 delegates throughout Peninsular Malaysia comprising bishops, clergy, deacons, religious and laity attend the convention which had preliminary sessions as follows:

  • 6th to 24th Feb: PMPC III Clergy Pre-Convention: 124 participants comprising bishops, priests and deacons began a 3-week journey together of reviewing their lives, their vocations and their mission of priesthood in the context of Malaysian realities.
  • 29th April to 1st May: PMPC III Pre-Convention for the Laity. 125 delegates gather in their respective dioceses.
  • 3rd May to 6th May: PMPC III Pre-Convention is held for the religious.
  • 26th May to 27th May: Bishops of Peninsular Malaysia gather for their PMPC III Pre-Convention Meeting

2007
1. Parishes in Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur raise funds to assist flood victims in Melaka and Johor.
2. Inauguration of Carmelite Monastery in Seremban

2008
1. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei made their Ad Limina visit to Rome.
2. Archbishop Murphy Pakiam bestowed the Panglima Setia Mahkota (PSM) which carries ‘Tan Sri’ title in conjunction with the birthday of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin.

2009
1. Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia officially launch the English edition of the Malaysian Catechetical Series. The Series runs from Level 1 to Level 10 for Malaysian children from ages 7 to 16.
2. Herald, the Catholic Weekly goes online.
3. Inaugural Peninsular Malaysian Conference on Ecumenical and Interreligious Ministry is held over a period of two-days.
4. Formation of Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerants.

2010
Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur launches the Women’s Desk at the Archdiocesan Office for Human Development.

2011
1. Msgr Anthony Thomas is conferred the ‘Honorary Prelate’ by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. The official investiture ceremony is held at the Cathedral of St John.
2. Malaysia establishes formal diplomatic ties with the Holy See
3. Beginning the first Sunday of Advent, the Roman Catholic Church of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei (and in all other English-speaking countries), begin using a new English translation of the Mass with the third typical edition of the Roman Missal.

2012
The Year of Faith is launched in the Archdiocese during the weekend Masses of Oct 13 & 14.

2013
1. Pope Benedict appoints Archbishop Joseph Marino as the first Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia.
2. Archbishop Murphy Pakiam tenders his resignation upon reaching the age of 75 and his resignation is accepted by Pope Francis

2014
1. One of Malaysia’s longest serving foreign priests, 83-year old Reverend Father Peter Bretaudeau, MEP closed a chapter of his life to return to his homeland in France after 57 years.
2. Archbishop Julian Leow ordained and installed as the 4th Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur

2015
1. Census carried out throughout the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur (Records XXX Catholics)
2. Opening of the Holy Door at the Pilgrim Churches to mark the start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy (Dec 2015 to Nov 2016). The five pilgrim churches for the Archdiocese are - Cathedral of St John Kuala Lumpur, Church of the Divine Mercy Shah Alam, Church of St John Vianney Tampin, Church of Sts Peter & Paul Banting and Church of Our Mother of Perpetual Help Mentakab.

2016
1. The last surviving French missionary priest in Malaysia, Rev Fr Antoine Henriot, MEP returns to the Lord at the age of 92.
2. PMPC IV held in Majodi, Plentong Johor – attended by 618 delegates from Peninsular Malaysia comprising bishops, clergy, religious, seminarians, laity, guests and observers.

  • In preparation for PMPC IV, 1,215 delegates gathered at their respective Archdiocesan Pastoral Assembly (APA) and two Diocesan Synods (Penang and Melaka-Johore) from 1st to 3rd May.

3. Malaysia gets its first ever Cardinal. His Eminence, Anthony Soter Cardinal Fernandez, DD elevated to Cardinal by Pope Francis

2017
Peninsular Malaysia Church celebrates 50 years of Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Approximately 2,500 faithful attended the event held at the Church of the Holy Family, Kajang.

2018
1. The 1st Malaysian Catholic Clergy Assembly is held in Majodi Centre, Plentong, Johor Bahru, from July 16 to 21. It was truly a historical moment for the Malaysian Catholic Church, where 281 clergy, comprising bishops, priests and deacons from the nine (arch) dioceses in Malaysia gathered in discernment, prayer and fellowship.
2. The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei made their ad limina visit to Rome from Feb 4 to 9.

2019
1. Archbishop Julian Leow launches the Extraordinary Missionary Year 2019 for the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur on the Feast of the Epiphany – Jan 6. This ten-month long preparation will culminate with the “Extraordinary Mission Month”, convoked by Pope Francis for October 2019.
2. Opening of the Life Journey Wellness Centre, a new venue operated by the Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese Mental Health Ministry that provides counselling and mental health services
3. The first Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia, Archbishop Joseph Marino celebrates his farewell Eucharistic Mass at the Cathedral of St John. The nuncio left for Rome to take up his new posting at the Vatican.
4. Herald the Catholic Weekly celebrates its Silver Jubilee.
5. Nineteen adult students of the Malaysian Pioneer Cohort with the Australian Catholic University (ACU) received their graduate certificates in Leadership and Catholic Culture.
6. About 1,000 faithful from 19 parishes in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur flocked to the Church of St Theresa in Nilai to celebrate the Centenary of Maximum Illud – 100 years since Pope Benedict XV issued an apostolic letter in 1919 to the Church reminding every Catholic to be missionaries of Jesus Christ.
7. Permission has been granted for parishes in the KL Archdiocese to have girls serving as altar servers from the First Sunday of Advent.
8. The Welcome Community Home, a hospice/care home for men living with HIV/AIDS, closed its doors on Dec 31.

2020
1. The Extraordinary Missionary Year in the KL Archdiocese came to a close on the feast of the Epiphany on Jan 5.
2. For the first time in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, the celebration of public Mass in the churches are suspended for almost ‘7’ months due to the Corona Virus pandemic. Masses are streamed online and the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur grants dispensation to all the faithful from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.

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