Bishop Sebastian Francis of Penang, Malaysia, has been named as new chairman of the Office of Social Communication (OSC) of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC).
“On behalf of the FABC, I am happy to appoint you as the chairman of the FABC [OSC] for a period of three years,” read a letter to Bishop Francis signed by Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, FABC president.
Bishop Francis’ appointment officially started on Jan. 1, 2023, although the appointment letter was only released on February 11. In his letter, Cardinal Bo said the appointment is “renewable for a second term.”
“I wish to thank you for your kind acceptance of this position of leadership in our collegial responsibility for the service of the episcopal conferences in Asia,” read the cardinal’s letter.
One of the responsibilities of FABC-OSC is the the management and governance of Radio Veritas Asia, a radio network of the Catholic Church that has since transition into online broadcast.
“I am confident that with your experience and competence you will be able to guide and lead the RVA in its mission of proclaiming the Good News to the peoples of Asia,” read Cardinal Bo’s letter.
He said that as the Church “continues to give great emphasis on social communication” in its mission, “let us strive to make the FABC OSC a vibrant and effective instrument for strengthening the episcopal ministry of the Church in Asia in the service of the Gospel.”
Bishop Francis was born on Nov. 11, 1951, in Johor Bahru, Johor, which was then part of the Federation of Malaya.
From 1967 to 1970, he joined the St. Francis Xavier’s Minor Seminary in Singapore before enrolling into College General in Penang from 1972 to 1976.
He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Malacca-Johor on July 28, 1977.
From 1981 to 1983, Bishop Francis obtained a Licentiate in Dogmatic Theology from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.
He also studied at the Maryknoll School of Theology in New York where he obtained a degree in Justice and Peace in 1991.
In 2003, then Father Francis was appointed as vicar general for the Diocese of Malacca-Johor, a position which he served until his appointment as bishop of Penang on July 7, 2012.
He was ordained bishop on Aug. 21, 2012.
Bishop Francis is currently president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.