Fr Cornelius Ching, ordained on Aug 9, shares with CatholicNews his journey to the priesthood
“To help people experience the love and mercy of God, to bring the community together,” said Fr Cornelius Ching when asked about his aspirations as a priest.
The 39-year-old was ordained on Aug 9 at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In his speech after the ordination Mass, he thanked all who helped him through his seminarian journey and gave special thanks to his family for their “unending support and love”.
The newly ordained priest then approached his parents, his younger brother who is a teacher, and his grandmother seated in the first pew, and blessed them.
Fr Cornelius, who was attached to the Church of the Holy Spirit prior to his ordination, told CatholicNews in an interview earlier that he enjoys “spending time with the youth, communicating and building trust with them at their level.” Nevertheless, he “has no preference” which community he works with in the parish.
Looking back at his time before joining the seminary, he recalled yearning for a “sense of fulfilment” in his life.
He was an insurance salesman for eight years before he felt a prompting to serve God.
“I was looking to change my scope of work and I began praying about it. What I realised gave me a sense of fulfilment was my ministry in church,” he told CatholicNews.
He was active with the youth community at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary then.
Upon the advice of Frs John Bosco and Kenson Koh, the priests in his parish at that time, Fr Cornelius approached Fr William Goh, then rector of the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary.
“He asked me ‘Why do you want to be a priest?’ and other questions that allowed me to pray and reflect,” Fr Cornelius recalled.
His family also assured him of their “prayers and support” when he told them of his intentions to enter the seminary.
After a period of discernment, he entered the seminary in 2008.
On some of the challenges he faced in the seminary, Fr Cornelius shared that “there were times when the prayers got dry and the rigours started to set in.”
The sudden change in lifestyle also took some getting used to.
“Being an insurace advisor meant that I could control my working hours and be flexible with them ... However in the seminary there was a schedule to follow and the days started really early in the morning,” he said.
Although he never actually thought of leaving the seminary, Fr Ching said that he had his doubts about his vocation.
It was Fr Ignatius Huan, the then Spiritual Father of the House, who helped Fr Cornelius overcome his doubts.
“He [Fr Huan] told me to remember why I joined in the first place and that God would reassure me in my prayers,” he said.
Looking back at his journey, Fr Cornelius said that he is now “at peace, knowing that the Lord has called me to serve as a priest”.
“I have learnt to put my faith and trust in His plan,” he said.
His advice to those thinking of becoming a priest: “Be honest and fair to yourself. Look at the gifts that God has given you and don’t be afraid to use them.”
By Jared Ng