The current number of Singaporean men joining the seminary is insufficient to replace priests who leave active service due to old age or sickness. Yet the need for priests in Singapore is great because it is through them that Christ comforts and guides His people through the Word and sacraments.
Vicar General Msgr Ambrose Vaz made this point during a Mass to mark the World Day of Prayer for Vocations on May 11.
Speaking to the crowd gathered at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Msgr Vaz expressed conviction that the Lord continues to call young people from Singapore to work in his harvest, but many find it difficult to listen to and respond to the invitation.
Msgr Vaz, who is also rector of the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary, explained that Singaporean Catholics need to build a culture that encourages vocations.
He acknowledged that this could be difficult as the notion of asking God what He wants one to do with one’s life runs counter to the local materialistic and secular culture which encourages self-fulfilment.
Msgr Vaz explained that Catholic parents have a duty to set an example of seeking God’s will in major decisions. By doing so, they pass on this value to their children.
Acknowledging that many parents make sacrifices for their children’s good, Msgr Vaz urged parents to realise that their children will gain lasting happiness only when they follow God’s will in life.
It is an act of injustice to discourage someone from a possible priestly or Religious calling under the guise that one knows better what will bring that person true happiness, he said.
At the end of Mass, Br Nicholas Lye, a fifth-year Singaporean seminarian with the major seminary, shared his vocation journey.
The way to one’s true vocation is not simply about finding the path that brings one the most joy or greatest fulfilment in life, he said. It is also about finding the path that brings one the most tears, for it is only when one has truly cried for others that one has truly loved.
A Holy Hour was held prior to the Mass, attended by a few hundred people. It started with praise and worship, followed by Eucharistic adoration, which included Scripture reflections and intercessory prayers.
Among the hundreds of people attending the World Day of Prayer for Vocations celebration were 11 seminarians from the St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary, Canossian nuns and members of the Serra Club, whose mission is to promote priestly vocations.
The writer is a first-year seminarian in the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary.
By Br Simon Ho