The vocation of a priest comes from God as Aaron's did; nobody can take upon himself such a privilege as this (Heb. 5: v: 4): But any man, and as we saw last week, any woman, may accept the general invitation to consecrate himself or herself entirely to God provided that they are not bound by the ties of the Fourth Commandment, or have not been called to the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony - for that too is a great and often heroic vocation these days.
He who humbles himself on earth shall be exalted in heaven. Today we tell you about the religious orders of men, men who have given up home and all private property to live a life of prayer and obedience to man for the love of God.
First the REDEMPTORIST FATHERS AND BROTHERS: All those not strangers to Malaya must know the blessing brought to a parish by the preaching of a Triduum or Mission. That blessing does not necessarily come from the eloquence of the preacher. It comes rather from the fact that the Redemptorist Father has a way with him, an air about him, and this air, this way comes from the system of life whereby, in between the activity of their preaching, the Fathers return to their monastery for rest and retreat. But they return not to any empty house, but to the presence of God; for all the time that they are away two brothers have been busy, not merely in cooking and cleaning and doing the house work, but also in that same kind of prayer and contemplation that we mentioned last week in connection with the Carmelites. I trust those good Brothers will forgive this publicity; you must pray in gratitude for them, and also pray that there may be more vocations of this kind.
THE BROTHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS, founded by St. John Baptist de Ia Salle nearly 350 years ago, came to Malaya in 1852 and took over two Catholic Parish Schools, one in Singapore and one in Penang, which have come to be the two foremost Catholic Schools in the country; namely St. Joseph's Institution, Singapore and St. Xavier's, Penang: Similar schools have been instituted with with steady increase in numbers ever since. Most of them were begun by zealous missionary priests and then handed over to the Brothers, though the Brothers themselves have also started some schools.
Recently in Singapore the Government Education Department has built Regional Schools and put some of them under the charge of the Brothers. This puts an extra strain on their limited numbers. More Brothers are needed when you see that 100 Brothers work in 18 schools with over 15,000 pupils not counting the 2,000 or so waiting to enter the new Government Schools at Balestier Road and Tanjong Rhu. We have not said so much about the many Christian Brothers as we have about the two Redemptorist Brothers, but so many readers owe so much to the sons of St. John Baptist de La Salle that we may indeed say of them, as was said of Sir Christopher Wren, the architect, 'If you seek a memoliaL look around you'.
THE BROTHERS OF ST. GABRIEL, first founded under the name of the Brothers of the Holy Ghost, by St. Louis Marie de Montfort who died within a few years of St. John Baptist de la Salle, came to Upper Serangoon from Siam in 1936. Here they took over the large Boys School of the Parish (Chinese). Two years later St. Joseph's Trade School was founded at Bukit Timah and also a Novitiate which of course came to an end with the Occupation. The Trade School ("Boys Town") has been revived but the Novitiate is in India and one of our Malayan young men will have gone there hy the time this is in print.
The Brothers of St. Gabriel haYe several schools in India and Mr Thivy the late High Commissioner for India, was one of their pupils. We shall devote a special article later to the work of St. Joseph's Trade School. At present 7 Brothers are there and another 7 at the Holy Innocent's School, Serangoon.
Opposite the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul in Queen Street, you will see a large construction going up. This is for the Catholic Chinese High School. At present the boys are crowded into the existing buildings by the Church. At Kampong Bharu too, there is a large Chinese Boys' School and Orphanage, all far too much for the Parish Priest to cope with. In July 1949, six MARIST Brothers came to Malaya and later three more, to help the Bishop in staffing Chinese Catholic High Schools. Two Brothers have gone to Ipoh and two to Bukit Mertajam to conduct the Chinese Catholic High Schools there.
Founded in France by Fr. Champagnat these 'Little Brothers of Mary' or Marist Brothers went to China first in 1891. Under the Communists many of their Schools were unable to continue. Others are still at Hong-kong waiting for permission to leave.
Altogether there were 218 Marist Brothers in China and 17 Schools, all Chinese.
INDIGENOUS PRIESTS IN MISSION LANDS
There are only 10,560 native priests in all the vast areas of China, Japan, Malaya, the Philippines, India, Pakistan and Africa, states Fides, the news agency of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Fn:ith. In an appeal for more indigenous priests the Congregation says: "Development of an indigenous clergy proportionate in number and quality to the ever-growing needs of the. people in mission lands is a n:atter of pressing importance." Fides g1ves these figures:
China: Catholic population, 3,260,000; 2,547 indigenous priests; 957 students for the priesthood.
Japan: Catholic population, 130,901; 181 indigenous priests; 164 students for the priesthood.
India & Pakistan: Catholie population, 4,667,620; indigenous priests, 3,139; students for the priesthood, 1,235. Indo- China: Catholic population, 1,534,000; 1,469 indigenous priests; 516 students for the priesthood.
Ceylon, Burma, Siam, Malaya & Korea: Catholic population, 1,004,000; 606 indigenous priests; 206 students for the priesthood.
Indonesia: Catholic population, 732,230; 74 indigenous priests; 76 students for the priesthood.
Africa: 10,926,844 Catholics; 1,097 indigenous priests; 1,2·16 students for the priesthood.
The Philitltlines: Catholic population 14,000,000; 2,053 indigenous priests; 328 students for the priesthood.
The Malaya Catholic Newsletter, August 27. 1950. pg 5