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Pope Francis confers Knighthood on Malaysian former SIGNIS VP for commitment to social communication

BANGKOK – The Holy Father has conferred the title Knight of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St Sylvester, Pope and Martyr (one of the five Orders of Knighthood awarded directly by the Pope), on Lawrence John Sinniah from Malaysia, for his contributions to social communication. The title was bestowed through the Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication, Dr Paolo Ruffini, in Bangkok on 26 Nov. 2023.

Papal knights do not have specific obligations, but it is customary for them to be invited to participate in the major events of their diocese. Lawrence John is the former Vice President of SIGNIS for two mandates and a former President of SIGNIS Asia.

Lawrence expressed that he was surprised and touched on receiving the title.I am deeply honoured to receive this title from Pope Francis. I would like to share this recognition with my fellow social communicators, especially our young leaders, who promote unity and development through communications and media”.

“In a special way, I thank my predecessors in SIGNIS for nurturing me in communications through their friendship and guidance. In particular, I want to pay tribute to Sir Augy Loorthusamy, who introduced me to the ‘hidden treasures’ of Catholic social teaching, and to a deeper understanding of social communications more than 40 years ago.

“To the late Cardinal Soter Fernandez, I express my deep gratitude for having faith in me and entrusting me with the responsibility and leadership of social communications in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. “As I receive this title, I want to specially honour and thank my mother, the late Pauline Joseph, for her love and dedication in sowing in me the seed of service to others.”

Commending Lawrence John (Eljay), SIGNIS President, Helen Osman, said, “Eljay’s commitment to our faith by using his gifts as a professional communicator has inspired me throughout our friendship. We are grateful for the Holy Father’s recognition of his contributions. Congratulations to Eljay for this tremendous honour”.

SIGNIS Secretary General, Dr Peter Monthienvichienchai, who was also present during the presentation, shared, “Eljay’s recognition is an inspiration to Catholic communicators around the world. His commitment and energy through his work with and outside SIGNIS embody what it means to live the Gospel through the ministry of communication. I hope that others will be energised by this recognition especially during these challenging times for Catholic media.”

This award is particularly meaningful reflecting on the journey SIGNIS is engaging with the new generations, for several decades as underlined by former Secretary General Ricardo Yáñez: “It gladdens my heart that the Holy Father is honoring Eljay by making him a Knight of the Order of Saint Sylvester. During the almost two decades I worked with him in SIGNIS, he  made it his constant mission empowering young communicators to become leaders in the Church and in society.  He thus embodies SIGNIS’s commitment to media for a culture of peace. Thank you, Eljay for being a faithful friend and inspiration to all of us, especially the next generation of Catholic communicators!”

Dr. Paolo Ruffini, Lawrence John Sinniah and Helen Osman.

SIGNIS is the World Catholic Association for Communication, and is a network of communication and media professionals in over 100 countries. SIGNIS, formed in 2001 from its predecessor organisations which began in 1928, is officially recognised by the Vatican.


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