MAY 17, 2015, Vol 65, No 10
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.
Name an occasion/incident when you felt God was far away.It was many years ago when I was still in college. It was the time of struggle in my studies, searching for my own identity, plus crisis in my faith as a Catholic. I prayed but there was no consolation. The weekly novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help did not do any good. I was frustrated. It was as if God had abandoned me.
I met a Religious Sister and she told me that God is always near. She told me to keep on praying and to surrender to God.
What do you like best about being a Religious/consecrated person?
The happiness and joy. I always feel that my life is blessed.
What has sustained your life as a Religious, especially in the face of challenges/changes?
My own siblings are always there to support me mentally and emotionally.
Group retreats welcome
Three of the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) Sisters give spiritual direction, according to Sr Maria Ng Swee Wan.
Sr Maria said that many Catholics and other Christians come to the FMM House of Prayer and Formation at 49 Holland Road, for retreats and spiritual direction.
They come with a mixture of desires: “to search for God and find answers to issues of deep concern”, she added.
In addition to accompanying retreatants according to the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius, the FMM Sisters also share on the Franciscan spirituality of simplicity or poverty (detachment from material gain or comfort); community (nurturing relationships); compassion (serving others) and love of nature.
Group retreats welcome
Since Montfort Centre became operational in 2005, many groups from Catholic parishes and other Christian traditions have flocked to the place in Upper Bukit Timah.
Catholic churches usually organise day-long retreats or recollections for those in ministry, such as wardens and communion ministers.
These groups would sometimes approach Gabrielite Br Dominic Yeo-Koh to conduct the retreat for them and usually, he would speak on evangelisation, discipleship and spirituality. Those who belong to the Legion of Mary like to know more about the rosary.
Religious congregations, such as the Carmelite and Franciscan Friars, have also used the centre for their community retreats.
On the other hand, retreats of Christians from other denominations are usually conducted by their pastors.
The April 17-19 workshop, titled the Charism Workshop for New Evangelisation, was held at the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary.
About 60 participants from various Catholic Charismatic groups attended the workshop organised by (Singapore Archdiocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal) SACCRE Youth.
They listened to talks by Mr Alex Antony from the Jesus Youth International Formation Team.