Without priests there will be no sacraments.
“When there are no sacraments – no Eucharist, no Church,” said Archbishop William Goh on the April 25 World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
The Singapore Church lacks priests because Catholics have “not yet created a community that is deeply embedded with this strong faith in Christ”, he said in front of eight seminarians, several Religious and the laity during his homily at the Church of St Francis Xavier.
The church was almost packed despite the rain.
Priestly “vocations come from a community that truly believes in Jesus as the risen Christ,” he said.
“If we are proud to be Catholics, then of course, there will be some people who will say I want to shepherd my people.”
But sadly there is a “dwindling number of priests”, Archbishop Goh said. “For the next eight years, we will only have eight diocesan priests” if the current eight seminarians make it through their formation.
A vocation is also “different from a career”, he said.
“A career is concerned about you making the best of yourself” but “a vocation is not concerned about self.”
“That is why the heart of all vocations is the priestly vocation,” the archbishop said. “Why should we lead a life of celibacy, poverty and obedience if we do not believe in what we are doing?”
Currently, the “real problem” is that Church activities are often not “rooted in prayer”, he said.
Thus, “If our activities don’t spring from our deep love for God, this is not a vocation.”
God “never said to have a vocation promotion campaign”, said Archbishop Goh. He never said “let us advertise... the fact that we have to do this means to say the situation is bad.”
A Holy Hour was also held prior to the Mass. The eight diocesan seminarians along with several priests, Religious and laity spent time in silent reflection. There was also Eucharistic adoration which was led by archdiocesan vocation director Fr Alex Chua.
After the Mass, CatholicNews spoke to laypeople and a few seminarians.
“I think that it’s really important that we are praying for the Church as there’re really not enough priests,” said 24-year-old Brandon Ng, who shared that he was considering becoming a priest himself.
Mr Joshua Koh, 28, who agreed that praying for vocations was important, added that parents “should be more open to their child being a priest”.
“There is a need like what the bishop said for people to come together to pray and to pray visibly,” said 38-year-old Br Cornelius Ching, who is in his final year at the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary.
This day has “inspired me and renewed my commitment and passion for the priesthood,” said Br Nicholas Lye, 34, a sixth year seminarian.
By Lorna O’Hara