by Joel Ocampo
Please pray for the eternal repose of the soul of Cardinal Cornelius Sim, who joined the Lord on May 29, 2021.
“People don’t fit in boxes. They are bigger than a box.” These are the words of Cardinal Sim during the Heart to Heart with Cardinal Chito, back in 2018 during the 5th Philippine Conference on New Evangelization.
Cardinal Cornelius Sim was born on September 16, 1951. He was the first-born of the six children. In 1971, he earned a Diploma in Electrical Engineering at Maktab Teknik, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Then in 1978, he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering at Dundee University in Scotland.
Before entering priesthood, Father Sim worked in a British-Dutch multinational oil and gas company Shell in Brunei and in Europe. After almost ten years of a successful career, like most of the apostles, “he left everything and followed Him” (Mt. 9:9); and in 1998, he earned a Master’s Degree in Theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio.
Father Sim received his diaconal ordination on May 28, 1989. After six months, on November 26, 1989, he was ordained to priesthood at the age of 31. It was the first time in the history that a native Bruneian was ordained a Catholic priest for the country.
In 1995 Sim was appointed Vicar General of Brunei of the then Miri-Brunei Diocese. When Pope John Paull II separated Brunei from the Diocese of Miri-Brunei and established the Apostolic Prefecture of Brunei, Father Sim was appointed by the Pope as Prefect of the Apostolic Prefecture of Brunei November 21, 1997 (other records say 1998). In the year 1999, Father Sim was appointed Prefect of Brunei. On October 20, 2004, Pope John Paul II elevated Brunei into Vicariate and Father Sim was appointed Vicar Apostolic of Brunei. He led the Apostolic Vicariate of Brunei Darussalam for nearly two decades. On January 21, 2005, Father Sim was ordained a bishop. He was created and proclaimed Cardinal by Pope Francis in the consistory of November 28, 2020, of the Title: San Giuda Taddeo Apostolo. On December 16, 2020, he was named a member of the Congregation for the Clergy. Truly, “people don’t fit in boxes,” as Cardinal Sim said in the PCNE5, because God has an important mission for everyone.
Last May 8, 2021 Cardinal Sim was hospitalized in Taiwan for cancer treatment; and on May 29, he died of cardiac arrest at 8:28 A.M. He served as a cardinal for only six months, and died a day after his diaconal ordination anniversary.
According to Bishop Pablo Virgilio David of the Diocese of Kalookan, “Cardinal Cornelius was very close to the bishops of the Philippines.”
Before Cardinal Sim left for Taiwan, he celebrated a Mass on May 6 at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption. In his homily, he said, “God has opened the door, and when He opened a door it is best to walk through them.” He added, “Pray that the Church becomes stronger. Don’t be a spectator in the Church. Be someone who contributes, gives time, talent, and treasure.”
Let us pray.
Lord God, to Your mercy we owe our forgiveness and salvation. Grant that Your servant, Cardinal Cornelius Sim, who has departed from this life, may be admitted into everlasting happiness. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all Your Saints. Amen.
V. Eternal rest grant unto him Lord.
R. And let perpetual light shine upon him.
V. May he rest in peace.
V. May their souls and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.