Fr Francis Vijayan, ordained on Sept 8, shares with CatholicNews his journey to the priesthood
Fr Francis Vijayan seen here having just given communion to his mother, Rosilin Vilasini, at his ordination Mass. Also in the picture are his father, Anthony Mohan (right), and his sister, Bernadette Vidya.
“I learned to love what they are about, their love for preaching and ministering as a community,” said Fr Francis Vijayan when asked why he decided to be a Redemptorist priest.
“The community allows me to better reach out to the peripheries, to bring the Church to people,” the 33-year-old told CatholicNews.
Fr Francis was ordained at the Church of St Teresa on Sept 8.
In his speech at the end of the Mass, he thanked his family for “being so supportive of my vocation to the priesthood”.
“It is with this love [of family] that I will carry in my heart as I begin the lifelong journey of servanthood,” he added.
Fr Francis told CatholicNews in an earlier interview that he had studied media in Temasek Polytechnic and was actively involved in the youth scene in the Church of St Teresa. He served for about nine years there and it was then that he thought of becoming a priest.
After he completed National Service, a friend who was working closely with the Redemptorists roped him in to work as a full-time youth coordinator with the Redemptorists’ mission team.
During his two-year stint with the team, he travelled to places like East Malaysia and Jakarta for outreach work.
“I learnt a lot from those trips, learning from the Redemptorists who were based in other countries and seeing them serve with so much love,” he said.
Fr Francis shared that he felt more called to joining the Redemptorists as a result.
He entered the seminary in 2009 at the age of 26. “I had a sense of freedom about my choice,” he recalled.
His parents and siblings were supportive of his decision although his mother would sometimes ask him: “Are you sure about this?”
“She was worried that I did not know what I was getting myself into and would later regret,” said Fr Francis, the youngest of four children.
Feelings of “unworthiness and doubts” were often in his mind of when he was in the seminary.
“When I visited people’s houses to spend time listening to their stories and journeying with them, I thought to myself: ‘Who am I that I can represent Christ to listen to these people sharing their lives with me?’”
Through prayer and a strong relationship with God, he realised that “I can’t do it, but God can. He will make a way in the situations He puts me in.”
Fr Francis also shared that other Redemptorists such as Fr Gerard Louis, Br Celestine Toh and those whom he met overseas encouraged and reminded him of why he joined in the first place.
During his formative years with the Redemptorists, he also had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines and Sri Lanka for pastoral work where he worked with the prisons ministry and in hospitals.
Fr Francis said that as a priest, he hopes to “spread the love of God through media” and work with the youth at Novena Church when it reopens after renovations are completed.
“I also hope to reach out regionally, to the poor and marginalised in our neighbouring countries, to be a witness of Christ to them,” he said.
His advice to those thinking of joining the priesthood: “If you’re afraid, bring those fears to prayer. Ask for the courage to say ‘yes’.”
By Jared Ng
OCTOBER 02, 2016, Vol 66, No 20