In a land area of 63,810 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers four states (Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Trengganu) and two federal territories (Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya).
The population is 10,489,267 as of 2009, majority of whom are ethnic Malays. There are sizable numbers of ethnic Chinese and Indians. Other minorities include Eurasians and Orang Asli (aborigines).
Malay or Bahasa Malaysia is the official language. English, Mandarin and other Chinese dialects and Tamil are also in use.
In 1511, Malacca was conquered by the Portuguese, who in 1641 lost the territory to the Dutch who in 1795 were forced to leave when the British became the colonial ruler. In 1545 Francis Xavier was engaged in missionary work in Malacca, and after his death on the island of Shangchuan on Dec. 3, 1552, his body was kept for some time in Malacca before it found its final resting place in Goa.
In 1554, Dominican friars came into the country, and in 1557 the diocese of Malacca was erected as suffragan diocese of Goa.
The beginnings of the missionary activities in West Malaysia are directly connected with the persecution of the Catholic Church in Siam by King Phaja Tak who in 1779 targetted apostolic vicar Msgr. Le Bon and other Catholic priests.
In 1810, the regional major seminary was opened on the peninsula of Penang.
In 1838, the Malaysian peninsula together with Singapore was put under the jurisdiction of the apostolic vicariate Ava and Pegu in Burma.
From 1840 onwards, the jurisdiction was shifted to the apostolic vicariate of Siam. In 1886, the Catholics living in Malacca and Singapore were put under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Macau.
In 1888, Pope Leo XIII erected the diocese of Malacca with the episcopal see in Singapore as suffragan diocese of Pondicherry, India.
Beginning in 1852, the Teaching Brothers of de la Salle (FSC) and the Sisters of St. Maur started their first schools in Malaysia to counter the influence of the Methodists. The Catholic schools became the most important instrument of the apostolate and generally helped bolster the image and the influence of the Catholic Church among the population.
In 1953, the canonical character of the diocese of Malacca was changed to become an archdiocese and two years later, in 1955, the Catholic hierarchy was erected in the country.
The new ecclesiastical province comprised the archdiocese of Malacca-Singapore with the suffragan dioceses of Kuala Lumpur and Penang. When Singapore left the Federation of Malaysia in 1965, a re-organization of the ecclesiastical structures became necessary.
In 1972, Kuala Lumpur was made an archdiocese with the newly founded suffragan diocese of Melaka-Johor. Furthermore, the archdiocese of Singapore was directly subordinated to Rome.
In 1980, the total number of Catholics in the Federation of Malaysia was 440,000 while the total population of Malaysia was 13,4 million.
The country's main international airport is located at Sepang, about 70 kilometers south of Kuala Lumpur. Other commercial airports are in Kuala Trengganu, Kuantan and Subang. The country's main seaport is Port Klang, about 50 kilometers west of Kuala Lumpur. Other seaports are Kuantan and Port Dickson. The territory has a very good road system. The country's main railway line runs through Kuala Lumpur, connecting it with Singapore in the south and Thailand in the north. Several other railway lines, including a monorail, run around Kuala Lumpur and surrounding urban areas.
Equatorial (hot and wet throughout the year)
Kuala Lumpur is the economic and business center of the country. The city and its surrounding urban areas form the most industrialized and fastest-growing economic region in Malaysia. Most of the countries' largest companies have their headquarters based here. Manufacturing and heavy industries are concentrated in the west coast. Agriculture includes mainly oil palm and rubber plantations in the west-coast states of Selangor and Negeri Sembilan. Petroleum and gas are the main contributors of the economy of the eastern state of Trengganu. Timber is an important industry in the interior of Pahang state, while fisheries is important in the state's east coast. Tourism plays an important role in the economy. Tourism centers are Kuala Lumpur, Taman Negara (a national park in the north of Pahang), Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands (both mountain resorts in the interior of Pahang) and the beaches and islands off the coasts of Pahang and Trengganu.
Several mountain ranges run along the territory, which also comprises hilly areas, valleys and plains.
On every first Friday of the month thousands of Catholics flock to Holy Cross Church of Cherpunkal in Kerala, India to revere Infant Jesus and St. Thomas, the founder of the church. The church stands on the southern bank of Meenachil River. This fabled church, also known by its Syriac name Mar Sleeva (Holy Cross)Church, belongs to Catholic Diocese of Palai of the Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Church.
St. Mary’s Cathedral Church in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state, is the mother church in the tribal belt of eastern India, where Belgian Jesuits laid the foundation of Catholicism in 19th century. This brownish Church, dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of Virgin Mary, stands on Dr. Camil Bulcke Path and nestles between St. Xavier’s College and St. Albert Major Seminary.
Basilica of Our Lady of Graces in Sardhana is a historic church that lives the memory of love and benevolence of the sole female Roman Catholic ruler in India. Our Lady of Graces Church of Sardhana stands at Meerut district in Uttar Pradesh of northern India. Consecrated in 1822, this 200-feet long church with a high central dome over the main altar, is one of the largest churches in northern India.
Saint Thomas Cathedral Basilica at Mylapore is a monumental declaration on ancient root of Christianity in India. The church was built over the tomb of St. Thomas, the Apostle who is believed to have preached Christianity in India. The cathedral preserves 2000-year-old bones of the saint and the lance that pierced him to death. Popularly known as Santhome Church, the cathedral at Chennai (formerly Madras) in Tamil Nadu state was constructed during the Portuguese era in the 16th century. “San Thome” assumes its name from St. Thomas.
St. Joseph’s Church in Lahore is the oldest Catholic Church in Pakistan that has flourished since the 19th century despite deadly sectarian violence in recent years. The church at Sarfaraz Rafiqui Road in Lahore was established as a wooden structure during the British colonial era, on Oct. 31, 1842, to provide pastoral care to the British soldiers. It completed 180 years this year.
Mokama Marian shrine on the southern bank of Ganges River bears the legacy persecuted Nepali Catholics banished from their homeland to India for refusing to renounce their faith. Our Lady of Divine Grace Church at Mokama stands about 90 kilometers from Patna, the capital of eastern Indian state of Bihar. Mother Mary is popularly known as Mokama Mata (Mother of Mokama). The church was built to honor Mary in 1947.
Santa Cruz Cathedral Basilica at Fort Kochi is one of the finest churches and a historic but also a landmark in Kerala state of southern India. Santa Cruz Church blends Indo-European and Gothic architectural style that draws tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year. The cathedral is a great place of devotion and historic significance that survived colonial conquests and invasions to the city.
The Cathedral of Good Shepherd in Singapore is a historic National Monument, but it also holds first-class relics of a French saint who brought Catholicism on the shores of city-state two centuries ago. Built in 1847, the Good Shepherd Cathedral is the oldest Catholic Church and mother church of all Catholic churches in Singapore.