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Ding at her first art booth in Sibu for this year.

Sibu designer gives local touch to religious art

FEB 27, 2023: There is an artist who comes up with delicate watercolour illustrations of Our Lady of the Rosary with a local flavour. She has five cultural versions of Our Lady. The Iban Mary is in the Ngepan Iban, the Chinese Mary in a Cheongsam, the Kadazan Mary in a Sinuangga and Tapi, the Indian Mary in a Saree, and the Nyonya Mary in a Kebaya. Each design comes with a Bahasa Malaysia & English explanation on what the Rosary is and how to pray it. 

Drawings of Our Lady in local costumes.

This was Anna Faustina Ding’s collection of Our Lady of the Rosary leaflets for last year’s Rosary Month. She produced this collection in collaboration with the SHC Religious Articles Centre, which comes under the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Sibu. 

“They asked for prayer cards in Malay, so I did this Blessed Virgin Mary series for them.” The 36-year-old former graphic designer from Sibu spoke to Journey With Us – Asia via zoom from the Sarawak town. This centre also sells her prayer cards via Shopee, and Ding has agents who help her sell this and other products.

Working with youths

In 2019, Ding produced a comic book based on the reflections and stories based on the Christus Vivit (Latin for Christ is Alive), a post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation from Pope Francis on young people, faith and vocation discernment. The comic was jointly put together by the youth of Sibu Diocese where each one drew an illustration from the reflection or story. This was a project to encourage young people to know about this exhortation in a fun and easy to digest way.

She was then a youth minister at the diocese and during youth camps she would do the illustrations she had come up with based on her reflections. One of the youths encouraged her to share the drawing on social media, and that was when she created an IG “The way we mend” to get in touch with the young people online.

The St Joseph prayer wallposter

In 2021, she produced wallposter on the St Joseph prayer with an illustration of the foster father and our Lord in her delicate watercolour style which was part of the St Joseph gift box and which also had a bookmark of the Holy Family. The year before that, during the Covid lockdown, she made and sold Chinese New Year postcard with an illustration of Jesus. 

“What I really want to do is to interact with people.” Ding loves and appreciates the gift that God has given her but she would rather spend time with people. “I prefer not to be working all by myself.” That is why during the Covid lockdown, she managed to get young people from her parish to be volunteers in a project that made 10,000 face shields for frontliners in government departments and agencies.

Most of her work life has been with the church. She was in her fourth year working as a graphic designer for a TYC Goat & Livestock Sdn Bhd when she decided to discern for herself where she should go.  

Got herself baptised at 13

Her early part of life was spent going to two churches. Her father was a Methodist and her mother Catholic. “Later part of his life, he became a Catholic and one month later, he passed away. He had cancer.” She was 12 then. The following year Ding decided to get herself baptised and so she joined the RCIA and was baptised as Anna and confirmed as Faustina at the age of 17. 

Ding’s baptism when she was 13.

She started to participate in parish activities and when she was 26 her parish priest asked her to work full-time for the church, but she refused. He kept asking her for two years and finally she said yes.

“I had a lot of doubts but I also realised that I wanted to help people build a stronger relationship with God. So, I asked my priest to give me one year to get myself ready to work for the church,” says the eldest of three children. “Instead, he gave me the phone number of a full-time worker in another parish and told me to ask her what it took to work for the church. That other person told me about Fondacio and that there was a course that would start in three months.” Fondacio is an international movement that focuses on the formation of lay leaders.

“I started having doubts again. But I received Scripture verses that said to walk in the valley of darkness and that I was not to turn back.” So, she quit her job instantly and was surprised her boss allowed her to leave despite them being shorthanded and there was a big project in the pipeline. And went to the Philippines for her training at Fondacio.

“That formation helped me serve. I learnt a lot about the Catholic Church history and background and there was also the human formation. This was new to me. You need to love yourself before you can love others and serve them. If your cup is empty, how can you serve God?”

Full commitment 

Then Ding became a full-time church worker and a youth minister for six years, with the Sibu Diocese. Then she moved to Johor Bahru to serve as coordinator of the Malacca-Johor Mission Pastoral Institute. After a year there, she felt she should return home to Sibu, which she did.

She then decided to go back to drawing and find a way to earn an income. She also has a couple of drawing-related projects she is working on but at the same time is seeking God as to her next step. Her desire to help people build their relationship with oneself, others and God is still strong and she is waiting on God to show her His plans.

As to her own personal desires, she said: “My heart has the desire to get married.”

Over the years she has learnt to leave it all to Him. “I’m learning to figure out how God wants me to spend my time as a single person and how Him wants me to seek him with regards to marriage.”

To see Ding’s products, you can go to

Or contact her at:

Ding handing over to Friar Crispus Mosinoh the calendar that she had designed for the Franciscan Friars.