Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The world we live in today is in crisis. Not only from the onslaught of natural disasters and terrorism but increasingly from a spiritual crisis. The loss of the sacred has led to self-idolatry, as seen by an increased emphasis on humanism, materialism and relativism. Sadly, even religion, which promotes peace and good will, is now used by some as an excuse for war. Hence, in this dizzying era of conflicting values that bombard us today, we need all the more to hear the distinct voice of the Good Shepherd who is “The Way, The Truth and The Life”.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus describes the intimate relationship He has with His flock: “My sheep listen to my voice… I know them and they follow me.” He also tells us of His deep desire for other sheep to hear His voice and follow Him. This implies the evangelizing mission of Christ’s followers; we are called to make Jesus known and loved by others. Indeed, evangelization is a grace and vocation proper to the Church. It is Her deepest identity. And with the speed at which amorality and apathy is progressing, the need to proclaim the Good News of Christ is even more urgent today.
Pope Francis says, “Religious should be men and women able to wake the world up!” A priest is one who is “In Persona Christi”. Configured in Christ, through the ministerial priesthood, God’s healing grace and love is made visible and tangible through the many Sacraments. The priest also brings the light of Christ through His teaching and ministering. However with dwindling vocations, we (or rather the next generation) may one day find ourselves without priests.
Evangelization must first begin on one’s knees. In order to have sufficient priests to serve us, the command of the Lord is to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send labourers who respond whole-heartedly and with humility, into His vineyard. He never asked us to promote vocations directly, but to pray instead. Why? Through prayer and contemplation of God’s Word, we are continually renewed in faith and transformed as His children. Only from a community of faith could vocations be born.
Fervent and intercessory prayers are also needed to support our existing clergy in their ministry and charisms, so that they will be holy and faithful priests, confident and committed to their vocation as shepherds after the heart and mind of Christ.
Equally important is the need to strengthen family life because the family plants the seed of vocation. The work of the New Evangelization is thus inseparable from the domestic Church. Families can pray together for more priestly/Religious vocations and be open to God’s call by encouraging vocations through discernment.
This vocation booklet therefore reminds us of our responsibility to promote vocations within our families, our communities and within our circles of influence.
Dear young people, the call stories of priests and Religious can edify and prompt you to discern seriously whether you too are called to such a life of service. The priests that are featured in this series, “Man of God, Man for Others”, are priests that have given their lives for the service of God’s people – they are priests that you know, priests that have served you and your family and priests who have celebrated the Sacraments for you. You may have wondered why they chose this life and what makes them happy in the ministry. Hopefully with their sharing, you will come to discover whether God is calling you and if He is, if you have the courage to answer His call.
Please take a copy for your family and friends and read about the lives of the priests featured. Pray for them, and for all the priests in the archdiocese.
If you are a parent, discuss it as part of your children’s or their peer’s discernment process. The greatest support that you can give your priests (past, present and future) is to pray for them. May Mary, the Star of the New Evangelization and Mother of all priests, intercede for us and be a model of faith and courage for those contemplating the Religious life; that they may respond to the urgent call to bring the Good News of Christ to a world that is in much need of Him.
Finally I would like to thank Fr Richards Ambrose and his team at The Catholic News for taking the initiative to have this series of booklets published. May the Lord inspire us all to pray and promote priestly and Religious vocations.
Archbishop William Goh, DD