The Catholic Church has had a presence in Brunei for over 90 years. It has three Catholic schools where an estimated 60% to 70% of students are Muslim.
In Brunei, Sim was known for prioritizing biblical formation, youth and family pastoral care, evangelization, social welfare, and the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
Sim was born in Brunei in 1951 as the first of six children in a Catholic family. Before he discerned his vocation to the priesthood, Sim earned a degree in engineering in Scotland at Dundee University.
He was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 31 and obtained a Master’s degree in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Sim served as a parish priest in Brunei before he was appointed vicar general of Brunei in 1995 and then made apostolic prefect in 1997.
On October 20, 2004, Saint John Paul II elevated the Prefecture of Brunei to the rank of Apostolic Vicariate.
Bishop Sebastian Francis, the president of the bishops’ conference of Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei, said May 29 that the details of Sim’s funeral will be made available at a later date and asked for prayers and Masses to be offered for the later cardinal.
“Let us be in communion with his family members, clergy, religious and all of the faithful of Brunei in this moment of loss and bereavement,” Bishop Francis said.
Pope Francis extended condolences in a telegram sent to Wojciech Załuski, the apostolic delegate to Brunei Darussalam, following the announcement of Sim's death.
"With gratitude for Cardinal Sim’s faithful witness to the Gospel, his generous service to the Church in Brunei and to the Holy See, I willingly join the faithful in praying for his eternal rest," Pope Francis said.
"To all who mourn the late Cardinal’s passing in the sure hope of the Resurrection I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in Jesus, the firstborn of the dead."
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This story has been updated on May 29 to include the telegram sent by Pope Francis.
Courtney Mares is a Rome Correspondent for Catholic News Agency. A graduate of Harvard University, she has reported from news bureaus on three continents and was awarded the Gardner Fellowship for her work with North Korean refugees.