Four Christian lion heads blessed

The new lions dance at the doorstep of the Cathedral after the blessing

On Saturday, 25 January 2020, at St Joseph’s Cathedral, Kuching, an auspicious ceremony took place on the morning of the first day of Chinese New Year of the Rat. After the Thanksgiving Mass to celebrate Chinese New Year, at the front doorstep of the Cathedral, Archbishop Simon Poh, together with the other concelebrating priests, namely, Fr Larry Tan, SJ, Fr Galvin Ngumbang and Fr Bernard Jim of the parish with Fr Francis Lim, SJ and Fr Alvin Ng, SJ of St Joseph’s Private School, and Fr Nicholas Ng of St Peter’s College blessed four new lion heads.

The heads are nicknamed after two well-known Jesuits, a Franciscan and a Lasallian. They are: 1) Pedro, nicknamed after Pedro Arrupe, the charismatic 28th superior general of the Society of Jesus who led the Jesuits in the realities of serving the Church and the poor with great spiritual depth and commitment to social justice; 2) Bertie, nicknamed after the Jesuit cardinal, St Robert Bellarmine who is the patron of the Jesuit community in Kuching, a brilliant intellectual who wrote many books on devotion and faith; 3) Jonny, nicknamed after St John Baptist de la Salle, the founder of the Lasalle Brothers on which the rich education tradition of St Joseph’s School in Kuching is based and one who seek out the least, the lost, the last through education of the young; and 4) Tony, nicknamed after the simple but great Franciscan preacher of the gospel who inspired many, St Anthony of Padua.

The four new lion heads came through the efforts of the students of the Lion Dance Troupe who participated in Singapore’s largest mass lion dance display on 21 December last year. The event entitled “Peace & Prosperity Singapura 2019” was organised to commemorate Singapore’s bicentennial – a celebration of racial and religious harmony. After the event, each pair of dancers was given a free lion head.

These four new lion heads join the other two heads which were blessed last year during Chinese New Year. They are nicknamed Iggy (after St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits) and Kiko (after St Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscans).

The lion dance troupe is made of students of St Joseph’s Private School who are interested in the performing art and are keen on preserving our local culture through education of the young here in Kuching.

The four new lion heads were blessed by the priests who inscribed the eyes and foreheads with holy water using Chinese paintbrushes.

by Fr Francis Lim Chin Choy, SJ