Tribute to a personable priest
Father O.C. Lim will always be remembered as a caring priest and friend to all.
A RESPECTED priest, with a voice for justice, and a true friend. Those were among the words used to describe the late Reverend Father Lim Ooi Chai, who passed away June 5.
Fondly referred to as Father O.C., the well-known priest was admitted to a hospital in Kuala Lumpur early May and had been showing signs of improvement during his post-surgical care.
His sudden passing was due to his earlier aortic dissection and aneurysm.
He was 76.
Lawyer Datuk Jagjit Singh said he almost collapsed when he heard the news.
“I couldn’t believe it because I was with him five hours before he passed away. I was in tears because I had promised him we’d catch up again after his recovery,” said Jagjit, 75.
Jagjit and Father Lim had been friends since 1969. They were chambering students and had been the best of pals.
“Before he joined the priesthood, we used to hang out all the time. He was one person who resonated the meaning of a true friend. I will miss him so much,” said Jagjit.
Father Lim was the eldest son of business tycoon Lim Foo Yong. He gave up his successful career as a lawyer when he received a calling to join the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1985. He served as a priest with Petaling Jaya’s St Francis Xavier (SFX) church, professing his final vow as a priest in 1997.
Scott Ng, 32, who was president of the SFX altar boy society in 2005, remembers Father Lim as a priest and friend.
“Father O.C. was a special priest. Not only was he approachable, kind and friendly, he was also very involved in the church ministries, working well with young people.
“You didn’t feel a generation gap with him, especially since he could also talk Premier League football,” said Ng, before adding that Father Lim texted him every year on his wedding anniversary.
“I was an altar boy in church and yet here was a priest who remembered me. He had that personable character, always making sure he kept in touch,” added Ng.
Father Lim held various positions including director of the Catholic Research Centre (a resource and publication centre under the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur), editor of Catholic Asian News, and spiritual director of the
Catholic Lawyers Society Malaysia.
Apart from his pastoral duties, Father Lim is remembered as an outspoken advocate for justice, said Catholic Lawyers Society Malaysia past president Datuk Joy Appukuttan, 55.
“I met up with him not too long ago before his hospitalisation. I felt his pain when he had to use so much energy to speak (because of his ailment). I miss a friend, a confidant, a legal advisor and most importantly, a priest,” said Joy, 55, who has known Father Lim for over 35 years.
Joy also wrote a five-page tribute – Man Of All Seasons – to Father Lim in The Catholic Lawyers Society Malaysia’s website.
In the poignant eulogy, Joy shared how Father Lim openly spoke up against societal and political injustices.
“To demonstrate his support against the violation of various human rights, he would join candlelight vigils and rallies.
“In 2007, he was present at the Malaysian Bar’s Walk of Justice in Putrajaya to show solidarity with Malaysians against oppressive laws,” said Joy.
Jagjit said he will especially miss his friend’s warm and infectious personality.
“You can never find a man like him because he’s sincere and kind-hearted,” says Jagjit.
John Chin, 76, Father Lim’s Form Four classmate at Kuala Lumpur’s St John’s Institution, will cherish fond memories of his friend.
“Although Father O.C. came from a wealthy family, he was never stand-offish. He was a friendly chap and never boastful.
“We kept in touch for years, even when he was undergoing his studies in philosophy and theology at the Ateneo de Manila University and Loyola School of Theology in Manila. No matter how busy he was, he always made time for friends,” said Chin, a former IT consultant.
Father O.C. Lim, 1943-2020
Father Lim was dedicated to serving the church.