Friday, 22 February 2013 : Feast of Chair of Saint Peter, the Apostle (First Reading)

1 Peter 5 : 1-4

I now address myself to those elders among you; I too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ, hoping to share the Glory that is to be revealed. Shepherd the flock which God has entrusted to you, guarding it not out of obligation but willingly for God’s sake; not as one looking for a reward but with a generous heart; do not lord it over those in your care, rather be an example to your flock.

Then, when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will be given a crown of unfading glory.

Programme of the Episcopal Ordination Mass of Coadjutor Archbishop of Singapore, Archbishop William Goh Seng Chye (programme and details of the Mass, including the hymns to be used in the Episcopal Ordination Mass)

FRI 22 FEB 2013 AT 7.30PM


Time Event Remarks
4.00pm Doors open  
6.30pm Praise and Worship  
7.00pm Arrival of Guests  
7.10pm Arrival of Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Mrs Menon Welcomed by Archbishop Nicholas Chia, Mr Xavier Wan, Chairman of Organising Committee and Mr Andrew Low, Vice-Chairman of Organising Committee
7.15pm Arrival of DPM, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean and Mrs Teo
7.20pm Arrival of President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Mrs Tan
7.30pm – 10.30pm Mass begins with Entrance Hymns:
1) Priestly People
2) Praise to the Lord
3) The Church’s One Foundation
4) Great is Thy Faithfulness
5) Behold Among Men
6) Great Is Thy Faithfulness
7) Entrance Chant
Procession of Archbishops and Priests
Greeting, Penitential Rite, Kyrie  
The Gloria  
Liturgy of the Word:
1) First Reading 
(1 Peter 5: 1-4)
2) Responsorial Psalm 
(Ps 22)
3) Second Reading 
(2 Cor 5:13-21)
To be seated
Gospel Acclamation To stand
Gospel (Matthew 16: 13-19)  
Rite of Ordinationbeginning with Hymn Veni Creator Spiritus To stand
Presentation of the Elect  
Reading of the Apostolic Letter and Consent of the People To be seated
Homily Remain seated
Promise of the Elect  
Litany of Supplication To stand
Litany of the Saints To kneel; Non-Catholics may be seated
Laying on of Hands To stand
Book of Gospel  
Prayer of Consecration  
Anointing of the Bishop’s Head
· Chrism
· Bread to clean oil from head
· Zucchetto
· Wash bowl for Consecrator
Remain standing
Presentation of the Book of Gospels  
Investiture of Bishop
· Ring
· Mitre
· Crozier
Antiphon: Cantate Domino Cantate Novum
Procession to Seat of Bishop
· Anthem based on Bishop’s motto
Remain standing
Kiss of Peace
· Hymn – Make us True Servants
Seated during singing of hymn
Liturgy of the Eucharist
· Offertory Procession
· Singing of Hymns –
1) Jubilate Deo
(done in 4 languages – Bahasa, English, Mandarin, and Tamil)

2) Take my life and Let it Be
· Preparation of the Altar and The Gifts

Remain seated
Invitation to Prayer
Prayer over the offerings
To stand
Eucharistic Prayer
Memorial acclamation
Great Amen
To kneel; Non-Catholics may be seated
Lord’s Prayer To stand
Lamb of God To kneel; Non-Catholics may be seated
1) Ecce Panie
2) I Am the Bread of Life (verses in Bahasa, English, Mandarin, and Tamil)
3) Holy Is the Lord
To be seated
– Reception of Holy Communion is only for Baptised Catholics
– At this juncture, Priests on stage would be led by wardens to 120 different points within TMP and Hall 9 to distribute Communion
Solemn Blessing
1) Te Deum
2) Magnifcat
To stand
– Newly ordained Coadjutor Archbishop will walk around TMP and Hall 9 to bless the congregation
Short Address by His Grace Archbishop Nicholas Chia To be seated
Short Address by Coadjutor Archbishop William Goh
1) Long Live The Pope
2) We Stand For God
To stand
Procession of Priests
10.30pm Dispersal of Congregation  
Light Refreshments for VIPs only in Omega Room 1&2

Reminder : Episcopal Ordination of the Coadjutor Archbishop of Singapore, Msgr. William Goh at EXPO tomorrow, Friday, 22 February 2013

The Episcopal Ordination of the Coadjutor Archbishop of Singapore, Msgr. William Goh, will be held at the EXPO, Singapore, tomorrow, Friday, 22 February 2013, on the Feast of Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle, beginning at 7.30 pm.

For those who are going for the event, the doors will be open at 4.00 pm, and sessions of prayer will begin at 6.30 pm to prepare for the Ordination Mass which will begin at 7.30 pm. The event will be held at both MAX Pavilion and Hall 9 of EXPO. It is highly advised to take the public transport to the site, as parking spaces may be limited, and to avoid traffic jam during the event.

For more details on tomorrow and the following events after the Ordination Mass, please visit the CatholicNews site at :


The official press release on the Episcopal Ordination of the Coadjutor Archbishop can be found here :

(Text below)


The Apostolic Nuncio to Singapore, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli will preside at the Mass for the Episcopal Ordination of Monsignor William Goh as the Coadjutor Archbishop of Singapore. He will be assisted by Archbishop of Singapore Nicholas Chia, and Archbishop Murphy Pakiam from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). The Ordination will be held on 22ndFebruary at 7.30 pm at the Singapore Expo (The Max Pavilion and Expo Hall 9).

The Ordination will be witnessed by the President  and Mrs Tony Tan Keng Yam, who will be joined by other dignitaries including Deputy Prime Minister and Mrs Teo Chee Hean, Members of Parliament, the President and members of the Inter-Religious Organisation, the clergy, religious and laity from Singapore and around the region.

On Saturday, 23rd February 2013, at 10.30am, Prime Minister and Mrs Lee Hsien Loong, as well as Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Lawrence Wong, will attend an Official Reception at the Catholic Spirituality Centre at Upper Serangoon Road, together with other VIPs.

Meanwhile, the Mass is expected to attract a capacity crowd of about 14,000 people from across the Catholic community in Singapore. This historic milestone in the calendar of the Singapore Catholic church comes close on the heels of the Vatican’s announcement of Msgr William’s appointment on 29th December, 2012 as the Coadjutor Archbishop

Mgsr William, who is the fourth and current Rector of St Francis Xavier Major Seminary in Singapore, was ordained as a priest on 1st May, 1985 by the late Archbishop Gregory Yong at the Church of the Holy Family. During his 27 years of service as a priest he has distinguished himself as a visionary and change-agent, turning around not just the culture of organisations especially the way seminarians are formed but also the lives of thousands through the Conversion Experience Retreats that he conducts. He is also a persuasive homilist and convincing teacher, drawing large audiences to the weekly spiritual growth talks that he conducts at the Catholic Spirituality Centre and the daily scripture reflections he posts on its website. Hence, the wide interest among many who will come to witness the Mass for the ordination of Msgr William. Among qualities attributed to him are that he is a people’s priest; one who is at once passionate about his ministry and the Church yet compassionate with all those who are wounded and in need of spiritual, emotional and psychological healing. Notwithstanding the many demands on his time, he is always ready to make time for others, often at the expense of his own comfort. He is a unifying figure who firmly subscribes to the Principles of St Augustine of unity in essentials, diversity in non-essentials but in all things, charity.

Msgr William, in sharing his thoughts on his new role said: “I see a powerhouse of bubbling enthusiasm, grace and talent among the Presbyterium and Laity (particularly the youth) that can be harnessed and unleashed to propel the Church forward in this new millennium. Together, we must find new and creative ways to catechize our youth, who are looking for a faith that is personal, real and tangible.  We must harness modern technology to influence the values of society. We must also give greater attention to the family and married life, which is under threat by a world that no longer believes in the sanctity and indissolubility of the Sacrament of Matrimony.  We must protect the institution of the family, which is the first cradle for Catholic spirituality.  The Church must reclaim its voice in influencing world views, without fear, particularly with respect to the universal values of truth and justice. We must continue to steadfastly resist the lure of secularism and relativism which threaten to suppress the voice of God by working assiduously in the areas of inter-religious dialogue and ecumenism. Unless religions unite, faith will be relegated to the private domain of an individual’s life, thereby weakening the impact of religions on society and morality.”

Notwithstanding the issues at large, Msgr William said, “What I hope for above all in my episcopacy is to be both an encouraging and supportive brother to my priests, empowering them in their ministry, and a compassionate and caring father to the laity. We must, therefore, work to becoming a vibrant, faith-filled, visionary and evangelical Church and not be complacent or satisfied with a maintenance Church. This will be achieved not only by me, nor the clergy, religious or just the laity, but together as the entire People of God in unity. Hence, ‘passion’ and ‘compassion’ will be the hallmarks and thrust of my ministry in renewing the Church in Singapore.”

The Ordination Mass
The Ordination Mass will be preceded by half an hour of Praise and Worship at 6.30 pm.

The Episcopal Ordination Mass begins with the procession of Bishops and Priests, followed by the Greeting, Penitential Rite, the Gloria, the Collect and the The Liturgy of the Word.

This will be followed immediately by the Rite of Ordination, when the Elect is presented. The Apostolic Letter is then read and the Consent of the People given. His Excellency, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, will then deliver a Homily, after which the Elect will make his Promise, followed by the Laying on of Hands on the candidate.

Following this will be the Prayer of Consecration, Anointing of the Bishop’s head and Presentation of the Book of Gospels before the Investiture. During the investiture ceremony, the newly-appointed Bishop will be presented with his ring, the mitre and crozier. The newly ordained Coadjutor Archbishop will then be led to the Seat of Bishop and embraced by the Bishops in a Kiss of Peace.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist will follow, where there will be an Offertory Procession, Holy Communion and Solemn Blessing.

A 322-strong combined church choir from the 31 parishes in Singapore will be in attendance to provide the sacramental music. In addition, 579 lay volunteers drawn from parishes across Singapore will serve in various capacities as altar servers, wardens, ushers, security, public relations and other duties. The Episcopal Ordination Mass will be concelebrated by 17 bishops and 151 priests from Singapore and the region.

As Coadjutor Archbishop

Msgr William will be the second Singapore-born clergyman to hold the office of Archbishop. The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd will be the seat of Coadjutor Archbishop William when the current Archbishop Nicholas Chia retires. Thereafter, Archbishop William will lead the flock of 31 churches (28 parish churches and 3 non- parish churches).  As at October 2012, there are 71 diocesan priests, 71 religious priests, 35 religious brothers and 166 sisters serving the people in different capacities, from parish priests, counsellors, social workers to teachers and nurses.

The Catholic population in Singapore is approximately 303,000, which includes permanent residents and foreigners living and working here.

Thursday, 21 February 2013 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor (Scripture Reflection)

The Lord our God provides for all of us, and He cares for us. For He is our Father, the creator of all things in this universe. Therefore it is only fitting that He gives us all that we need, and no, those are not material goods and wealth, but love, His love, which fulfills us and make us whole in Him. All if we just simply ask Him, to open ourselves to Him who loves us. God is willing to give many things to us, but many times, we are simply not receptive to His approach and His outstretched hands. Even at other times we turned our back on God, and rejected His love and kindness to us, in favour of the pleasures and good things that the world has to offer us.

Indeed, the world does have many good things, and many of us are fortunate enough to have a comfortable life and enough in all things and material goods that we need to do so. However, many of us, especially those of us who are prosperous, increasingly in these recent years, are growing in their spiritual hunger, in the search of something that can satisfy their life. For material goods and wealth, although may bring joy at first, but it cannot continue to sustain our joy and happiness, not without the Lord as the centre of our life.

For life without God is ultimately empty. Men can gather as much money and wealth that they want, and then spend them as lavishly as they wish. However, as history has often told us, many of these people have no true happiness, since in dealing with their immense worldly possessions, they built for themselves the illusion of happiness, sustained by these wealth, and which blinded us not only to God, but also the plight of many among us who are indeed less fortunate.

Therefore, let us indeed aspire to become more like the Lord, who listens and who pays attention to those who come to Him, just as we are well received when we go and seek for Him in sincerity, and open the doors of His heart to us when we pray to Him in our hearts; Therefore, we too should make ourselves available and reachable to those around us, our friends, our relatives, those whom we do not know but need our help, and even those who hated us and persecuted us.

Let these people come to us, and when they ask, let us not turn them away, just as the Lord does not turn us away when we ask Him for mercy and favour. Open the door for them, and through us, let us be the channel of God’s love. Just as God’s love, grace, and blessing came to us, let us share these blessings, in whatever form, either material or even spiritual with those around us who are lacking. For as many as there are who still suffer from poverty and material deficiency, there are even more people in this world today, who suffer from the poverty of the soul, the emptiness of the soul, only curable by God Himself.

Let us endeavour to bring God to those who seek Him, and let us not deny them this chance, and therefore through us, God has made His work of redemption manifest, to bring the sacrifice of Christ on the cross into completion. Christ offered Himself for our sake that we can be saved, but there are still many who reject Him and reject His teachings.

Today, we commemorate the memorial of St. Peter Damien, was a well-known and respected Cardinal of the Church in the early medieval era, well known for his reform of the religious orders and monastic practices, and the priesthood in general. His great piety and humility, and constant acts of penitence showed his great quality in the faith, and especially important is the numerous writings attributed to him on the faith and the Church, and how these writings had considerable impacts on the later saints, which includes St. Francis of Assisi and other great medieval saints and doctors of the Church, which St. Peter Damian was one of them, a Doctor of the Church through his extensive and influential works on our Christian faith, helping to define the Church in the next centuries following his death.

Like St. Peter Damian too, we can follow in his footsteps and that of other great saints, whose great love for the Lord has made them to seek the Lord and ask Him for strength and perseverance to serve the people of God, and bring God’s love to them. We too can do so in our own ways, in our own daily lives, and among our own relatives, friends, and neighbours. Reach out and share with one another the love and faith you have in God. Remember that a light is not to be hidden, but to be put on a lampstand that all can see in its light. Let us bring light to everyone, through us, who has a share in the Light that is God, that all mankind will one day be united in Christ, in God who loves us dearly.

St. Peter Damian, pray for us, and pray for God’s holy Church in this world, for all the bishops, and for our Pope, who in his great humility as you were, gave up his position so that others who are more capable of the great ministry can help accomplish the works that he has begun. St. Peter Damian, we also ask you to pray for Monsignor William Goh, who will be ordained as a bishop tomorrow, that he will be always strong and empowered by the Holy Spirit in his ministry. Amen.

Thursday, 21 February 2013 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor (Gospel Reading)

Matthew 7 : 7-12

Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks, receives; whoever seeks, finds; and the door will be opened to him who knocks. Would any of you give a stone to your son, when he asks for bread? Or give him a snake, when he asks for a fish?

As bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! So, do to others whatever you would that others do to you : there you have the Law and the Prophets.

Thursday, 21 February 2013 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor (Psalm)

Psalm 137 : 1-2a, 2bc-3, 7c-8

I thank You, o Lord, with all my heart, for You have heard the word of my lips. I sing Your praise in the presence of the gods. I bow down towards Your holy temple and give thanks to Your Name.

For Your love and faithfulness, for Your word which exceeds everything. You answered me when I called, You restored my soul and made me strong.

With Your right hand You deliver me. How the Lord cares for me! Your kindness, o Lord, endures forever. Forsake not the work of Your hands.

Thursday, 21 February 2013 : 1st Week of Lent, Memorial of St. Peter Damian, Bishop and Doctor (First Reading)

Esther 4 : 17 n, p-r, aa-bb, gg-hh (Vulgate Bible : Esther 14 : 1, 3-5, 12-14)

Seized with anguish in her fear of death, Queen Esther likewise had recourse to the Lord. Then she prayed to the Lord God of Israel : “My Lord, You who stand alone, come to my help; I am alone and have no help but You. Through my own choice I am endangering my life. As a child I was wont to hear from the people of the land of my forebears that You, o Lord, chose Israel from among all peoples, and our fathers from among their ancestors to be Your lasting heritage; that You did for them, all that You have promised.”

“Remember us, Lord; revel Yourself in the time of our calamity. Give me courage, King of gods and master of all power. Make my words persuasive when I face the lion; turn his heart against our enemy, that the latter and his like may be brought to their end. Save us by Your hand; help me who am alone and have none but You, o Lord.”

Wednesday, 20 February 2013 : 1st Week of Lent (Scripture Reflection)

We heard that even the sinful people of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, who destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel, turned to the Lord, when confronted with God’s punishment and destruction as told by the prophet Jonah. In this we find that while God hates sins and evil, but God also loves us all, the mankind, and is ready to forgive us if only we are to turn ourselves fully back towards Him, and humbly ask for His forgiveness, just like the king and the people of Nineveh.

For we are told then that Jonah resisted the Lord and was even angry with Him, when He decided to spare the people of Nineveh, which the Lord then showed to Jonah, how He loves all, and that even He would spare and love a single lowly being, if that being also truly loves Him and turn towards Him, and such a great city of Nineveh, with its many inhabitants, who has yet to listen to the goodness of the words of the Lord, should not be judged, because these poor souls have no shepherd to guide them to the proper path. Jonah’s proclamation is one way to the deliverance of these people from their previous sinful path.

However, for all of us, let us not be like either Jonah or the people of Nineveh. Unlike Jonah, we should love all men and hope in them, that no one is to be condemned, no matter how bad they are or what terrible things they had done, even the most sinful mankind still has the light of God in them, and only if they would truly repent, they would be saved, and that light unveiled from the thick darkness of their hearts and souls. It is up to us, who has been saved in the Lord through our baptism, our faith, and good works in faith and love, to help our fellow brethren who are still lost.

Let us also not be like the people of Nineveh, not in the way that they turned to the Lord in repentance, as we too need to repent for our sins, but in that we should do our best not to sin and do what is evil in the beginning, and turn to the Lord in full sincerity and in full humility, and not just because we fear the anger and punishment of the Lord, or because we fear our destruction, just as the people of Nineveh who repented because Jonah announced to them the doom of Nineveh. It is not to say that such a thing is bad, as when we have already sinned, we ought to seek the Lord’s forgiveness and repent, but it is even better that we strive to live a good life, and avoid wickedness in the first place, in all things that we do.

Then, as the Lord mentioned, that faith in the present day, and even in our modern world today, is problematic, as increasingly mankind left the Lord whom they thought is nonexistent, and chose instead to believe in what they can see, what they can understand, and what they can interact with, which is none other than science. No, this is not to say that science is bad or evil. Science is good, but how it is used and interpreted is very important, as nowadays, increasingly many use Science as a tool to even attack the faith in God, and ridicule the faith publicly. For the Lord, who is God, is indeed beyond what Science can ever know, and His nature is beyond all our possible understanding, and no matter how advanced a scientific tool is, they can never determine the nature of God and limit Him to our own human understanding.

We are often in awe of our own abilities, and our own creations, that we began to lose our focus in God, and began instead to focus on ourselves, on our capacities, and rather than to trust God, we instead began to trust our own selves, and our own finite ability, and glorify ourselves. For Christ is there, and has always been there, and there is the Church, through which God made Himself available, and the spreading of the Word of God by His missionaries continues even to this day. But many chose to believe in their own selfish pride and reject that they have any need for God, this God who has sacrificed Himself for their sake no less.

But, brothers and sisters in Christ, today, let us not turn a blind eye towards them, and rather, embrace them, show them who Christ our Lord is, and what God’s love can do for them, and for everyone. Approach them, and through our actions, make God’s love manifest in our world, that they too can see what it is. God loves everyone, even those who had rejected Him, and those in the darkness, having lost their way in their journey towards Him. Let us help one another that indeed, especially for those working in the field of Science, that they do their marvelous works for the good of everyone, and to give glory to God, and not to themselves. For it is all possible because the Lord made it so. God be with all of us, forever, and ever. Amen.

Episcopal Ordination of Coadjutor Archbishop William Goh of Singapore, Part II : The office of Bishop, what they wear, and their significance

Continuing from the first part, in which I elaborated on the Episcopal Ordination ceremony itself, let us now take a look at the office of the Episcopate itself, that is of a bishop. One may ask, who is a bishop? Bishops are ‘overseers’, which came from the Greek word, Episkopos, which means overseers, as in the early Church, there are those appointed to succeed the Apostles and oversee the Christian communities, to care for them like shepherds care for their flocks of sheep.

Such was the origin of the episcopate, with bishops as those appointed in positions of authority and with oversight over the laity and the religious alike, to keep them faithful to God, and united to the successor of the blessed Apostle Peter, who is our Pope.



This development of the early Church eventually become an office on its own, a separate level from the priesthood, as in the episcopate, there is a fulfillment and completion of the holy orders, which is symbolised by the bishop wearing both the deacon’s dalmatic, and the priest’s chasuble over the dalmatic. This symbolises the union of the ministry of the diaconate and the priesthood in the person of the bishop, who represents the completion of holy orders.

Cardinals and Popes are not separate orders on their own, unlike the diaconate, priesthood, and the episcopate, as these are just different types of bishops, with Cardinals usually being bishops from important dioceses/archdioceses in the world, and the officials of the Roman Curia (the body governing the Universal Church), and the Pope, being the Bishop of Rome, is still a bishop, but is preeminent due to him being the successor of the Apostle Peter, to whom Christ entrusted His Church, and thus the Pope becomes the very Vicar of Christ in this world.


There are also many types of bishops, which I will elaborate further below :


1. Diocesan bishops : These are the ordinary bishops, who head a diocese. A diocese is a division of the Church in a certain geographical area consisting of the faithful in Christ, who may share same culture, language, and customs, or may be of diverse linguistic and cultural origins.


2. Archbishops : These are the bishops who head a more important diocese, either by location, or by history, or by some other reasons. These dioceses therefore are also correspondingly named archdioceses. There are two types of archdioceses :

          a. Metropolitan Archdiocese : An archdiocese that has an overseer status over one or more other dioceses (called suffragan dioceses or suffragan sees) which are grouped together into an Ecclesiastical Province (or Province of the Church), and headed by a Metropolitan Archbishop, whose distinguishing feature is that he wears a pallium (a woolen shoulder band with black crosses).

          b. Archdioceses (directly subject) : These Archdioceses are important dioceses which has either been historically a metropolitan see or diocese that were elevated to an archdiocese status, but these are not overseeing any dioceses under them, and therefore stand alone on its own, directly subject to the Holy See, to the Pope, instead of through a Metropolitan. The Archdiocese of Singapore is of this type.


3. Auxiliary bishops : These are ‘helper’ bishops, who are appointed in larger dioceses/archdioceses to help with the administration of the diocese/archdiocese’s large Catholic population. May also succeed the diocesan bishop/archbishop upon retirement if selected by the Pope, but this succession is not automatic (not like that of a coadjutor). They are given titular see (diocese/archdiocese) upon their appointment as auxiliary bishop.


4. Coadjutor Archbishops/Bishops : These are bishops/archbishops appointed to dioceses/archdioceses to succeed the diocesan bishop/archbishop, whose age may be nearing 75 or in ill health. Bishops have to submit their resignation to the Pope upon reaching the age of 75, so the appointment of a coadjutor is a way to ensure that the diocese does not become vacant if the diocesan bishop resigns, and is a good way to prepare the coadjutor for the eventual succession and duty as the new bishop of the diocese. Coadjutors are not given any titular sees since they are bound immediately to the see (diocese/archdiocese) which they are to succeed in the future.


5. Titular dioceses/archdioceses : These are usually ancient dioceses/archdioceses, mostly located in North Africa and the Middle East, which due to historical events, had fallen into seclusion and extinction. Some can also be found in Europe and Italy, where some dioceses and archdiocese had been suppressed in the past, and become titular sees. These are now given to Apostolic Nuncios, Apostolic Delegates, and the auxiliary bishops.


6. Major Archdioceses : These are only found in the Eastern Catholic Churches, namely the main diocese in the Syro-Malankar, Syro-Malabar, Romanian, and Ukrainian Eastern Catholic Churches, whose importance place them into this special type of Archdioceses, but not high enough to be given the title of a Patriarchate itself.


7. Patriarchate (Latin and Eastern Catholic) : These are the special Patriarchal sees headed by a Patriarch, which in the Eastern Catholic Churches are the leaders of their respective Churches, in full communion with the Bishop of Rome. They are the Patriarchs of the ancient Pentarchy, of Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Antioch, and historically of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul). However, in our approach to our sister Church of the Eastern Orthodox (who is not yet in full communion with Rome), we respect their Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, who is the leader of the Eastern Orthodox faithful. Latin Patriarchates also exist in Lisbon, Venice, and Goa, which are headed by Roman Catholic Archbishops, but with special Patriarchal title, due to their distinctive history in the Church. Rome itself was a Patriarchate (of the West) until 2006, but was abolished by Pope Benedict XVI to better reflect the position of the Pope as the leader of the Universal Church, and not just the Church of the West (the Roman Church).


So, therefore, after talking about bishops, who they are, and what types of bishops are there, let us now look into the vestments and the items particular to bishops, all of which are steeped in the tradition of the faith and filled with deep symbolism.


1. Working dress (worn outside Mass and important events, the daily wear of bishops, and also for Cardinals and Popes)

a. Simar            


A simar is a special type of cassock worn by the bishops, cardinals, and popes, that is a cassock with a shoulder cape, and a sash (around the waist), which is violet for bishops, scarlet for cardinals, and white for popes. As is well known, the Pope’s simar is white in colour, while bishop’s and cardinal’s simar is black, and with violet lining for bishops, and scarlet lining for cardinals.


b. Pectoral cross (also part of the pontificalia and the choir dress)



The pectoral cross is worn as its name suggests, on the breast, to represent Christ who protects us from harm, as noted in the prayer of the bishop when he wear the pectoral cross before the Mass, called Munire me dignerisMunire digneris me, Domine Jesu Christe, ab omnibus insidiis inimicorum omnium, signo sanctissimae Crucis tuae: ac concedere digneris mihi indigno servo tuo, ut sicut hanc Crucem, Sanctorum tuorum reliquiis refertam, ante pectus meum teneo, sic semper mente retineam at memoriam passionis, et sanctorum victorias Martyrum. (May You graciously protect me, o Lord Jesus Christ, from all the snares of all my enemies, the sign of the Your most holy Cross: that You would vouch and grant to me and all unworthy of being Your servant, that I may receive the Cross, filled with the remains of Your Saints, in front of my breast, I hold, then it always in mind, but retain the memory of the passion, martyrs and saints victories.). 

This is because pectoral crosses are usually precious and contain the relics of the saints, which therefore be further a reminder that the bishop carries with Him at all times, Christ, and His holy Saints, and a reminder of the Cross, through which the salvation of our Lord comes to us.


c. Zucchetto (or skullcap)



Zucchetto is from the Italian word which means small gourd, because its shape which resembles (half of) a pumpkin. This is a head covering item for the bishops, cardinals, and popes, with the similar pattern of violet for bishops, scarlet for cardinals, and white for popes. This item has a lot in common and may have originated from the Jewish prayer cap, which is somewhat different from the zucchetto in appearance. Originally zucchetto has a practical use in the past, since the clergy in that era were tonsured, that is having their head shaved at the centre, and thus, without the present day heating available, during cold times, the head of the prelate (bishops) would become cold, and the zucchetto came in handy as a covering.

Nowadays, it is a symbol of prayer, and also honor, and therefore, as a sign of humility, it is always removed at the beginning of the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer and the head of the bishops (including cardinals and Popes) remain bare throughout the Eucharistic Prayer and the Communion.


d. Episcopal ring



The episcopal ring symbolises the bishop as the shepherd is married to God’s Church, in particular the diocese and the sheep, the faithful in Christ whom he is supposed to guide as the shepherd. The prayer the bishop said when wearing it reflects that this ring is also a symbol of virtue and sanctification, and blessing : Cordis et corporis mei, Domine, digitos virtute decora, et septiformis Spiritus sanctificatione circumda. (With my heart and of my body, O Lord, decorate my fingers with virtue, and sanctify me with the sevenfold blessing of the Holy Spirit around me).


2. Choir dress (worn during the Mass if the bishop is not the celebrant or concelebrant in the Mass, and events like Vespers, and also worn outside for important events)


a. Cassock with fascia/sash

This cassock with sash style is similar to the simar, but is entirely violet for bishops and scarlet for cardinals (as opposed to black with violet or scarlet lining)


b. Rochet


A beautiful, usually thin, either white or translucent, and laced piece of clothing worn over the cassock and the fascia, as seen worn above by Monsignor Georg Ganswein, now Archbishop Ganswein, Prefect of the Pontifical Household.


c. Mozzetta



Mozzetta (violet for bishops) is a shoulder cape worn over the rochet and the cassock.


d. Pectoral cross


Similar with in working dress, but more often worn with a cord rather than a chain.


e. Zucchetto

Violet for bishops. Similar as in the working dress.


f. Biretta



A hat-like item which has the same ancestry as our modern academic mortar board (worn on the graduations in universities), which is violet for bishops and has a pom-pom like object on the top. Only has three peaks, and the unpeaked side is always worn on the left.


3. Bishop’s Pontificalia (worn during the Mass when celebrating)

a. Dalmatic



Similar as those worn by deacons, which has squarish-edges as compared to the chasuble (which has more rounded edges), worn over the alb but under the chasuble. Here is the picture of our Pope Benedict XVI wearing the dalmatic during the consecration of a new church in Rome, after he took off his chasuble for the anointing of the altar with holy oils.


b. Chasuble



Chasuble as worn by the priests, worn over the dalmatic and the stole, and in this picture, Pope Benedict XVI wore the more traditional Roman-style chasuble, and very visibly underneath the chasuble, is the dalmatic. Only bishops can wear both the chasuble and the dalmatic.


c. Pectoral cross

Worn under the chasuble, not over the chasuble, either the normal chained or corded pectoral cross. Not correctly worn when worn above the chasuble, although many bishops seem to do this. Pope Benedict XVI himself consistently wear the pectoral cross under the chasuble since the beginning of his Pontificate.


d. Episcopal ring

Worn on the finger, which signify his marriage to God and His Church.


e. Mitre







Worn over the zucchetto on the head, and was developed from the camelaucum, or the secular headdress of the late Roman Empire and early Byzantine Empire, where they are also worn by the Popes and the Roman priests, and gradually was restricted only to bishops and abbots.

The mitre symbolises the teaching authority of the bishops, which are symbolised by the two peaks of the mitre, representing the Old and the New Testament, and also recall the flames of the Holy Spirit that inflame the hearts of the Apostles to spread the Good News to all peoples. Therefore, these represents the authority of the bishop to teach the Gospel through the Holy Spirit and based on the Scripture, the Word of God, both the Old and the New Testament. The two lappets behind the mitre themselves also represent the Old and the New Testament, the two sides of the Lord’s Sacred Scripture (which shape looks just like a book marker).


f. Crosier (Pastoral staff)





The crosier, or the pastoral staff is the crook-like staff, reminding us on the shepherd’s crook, which they use to shepherd their sheep. Thus, the crosier represents the bishops’ role as the shepherds of the people of God, and guide them in their journey towards the Lord, the Chief Shepherd, the Good Shepherd.


g. Pallium (only for Metropolitan Archbishops and the Pope)


The pallium is a woolen band worn around the shoulder. This represent the metropolitan’s role as the overseer of the faithful, over the sheep of the Lord, that is the faithful people of God, just like Jesus, the Good Shepherd carrying His sheep on His shoulder. Therefore, the pallium represents both the authority of the metropolitan, and the burden presented by his ministry in the service of the Lord.




The pallium used to be much wider, as reflected in the earlier pallium that Pope Benedict XVI wore, which used the style not worn since a millenia ago, in the earlier days of the Church. Now the most common form of the pallium is a shorter and narrower woolen band worn around the shoulders, and adorned with three pins that represent the nails that pieced Christ on the cross, and these pins were placed onto the black crosses (red for Pope Benedict XVI’s new, larger pallium and the earlier, much larger pallium), which represent the wounds of Christ.


After all that, and after looking into what a bishop is, what is the nature of the ministry of the bishops, the types of bishops, what they wear and what symbolisms are there in them, let us now take a time to pray, and pray indeed for the soon-to-be ordained Coadjutor Archbishop, William Goh, of the Archdiocese of Singapore.

May God be with him all the days of his new ministry as bishop, and strengthen him at all times, that when his ministry begins this Friday, the Holy Spirit will guide him and keep him faithful to the ministry he has been chosen for, forever and ever. Amen!