Two new Jesuit priests ordained in Myanmar
Titus Tin Maung was ordained on April 27 at Christ the King Cathedral in Loikaw by Bishop Sotero Phamo and Joseph Aik Maung was ordained on May 4 by Bishop Raymond Sumlut Gam.
Two new Jesuit priests from Myanmar’s ethnic communities were recently ordained. They are the second and third natives to become Jesuit priests a year after the first Jesuit priest from Myanmar, Loikaw-native Father Wilbert Mireh, was ordained.
Titus Tin Maung was ordained on April 27 at Christ the King Cathedral in Loikaw by Bishop Sotero Phamo and Joseph Aik Maung was ordained on May 4 by Bishop Raymond Sumlut Gam at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Banmaw.
“The three of us have shared much over the long years of preparation, but the greatest consolation now is to see the happiness of the people,” said Father Mireh.
Titus Tin Maung, 35, is Kayan, the major ethnic group found in Kayah State of Eastern Myanmar. Many of his people, in order to escape from poverty and a decades-long war, have crossed the nearby Thai border to refugee camps or to seek work in Thailand or Malaysia. Others have joined resistance armies. But the ordination celebrations were occasions of peace and joy in Titus’ village.
Aik Maung, 37, is now one of very few Shan priests in Myanmar. His ordination was a joint celebration for the Shan, the majority of whom are Buddhist, and for the Kachin people who form the majority of the Banmaw Diocese. Many camps for displaced people surround Banmaw town, which is close to the China border, yet hundreds of Shan and Kachin people braved checkpoints to come to Aik Maung’s ordination and attendant festivities.
On the eve of his ordination, hundreds of people participated in a colourful Kachin ritual cultural dance, the Manau dance, which lasted two hours, and on the afternoon of the ordination again for almost three hours. Shan people also prepared a concert, and 400 volunteers prepared meals for almost 5,000 people. Aik’s mother’s Buddhist neighbours lovingly prepared and attended a reception at her house after his first mass. Two days after his ordination, Aik Maung addressed a Catholic youth festival. The diocese had planned for 700 participants, but a head count on the first night revealed that more than 1,400 young men and women had turned up to share their faith.
Father Mark Raper, superior of the Jesuit Myanmar Mission, said that both the new priests will be assigned for a year of pastoral experience in the country before engaging directly in the works of the Myanmar Mission. Father Aik Maung will spend his year as a pastor among the displaced people in camps, while Father Titus goes to Rakhine State, a much troubled, poor and very different part of Myanmar, where he will experience something of the immense diversity of his country.