By Daniel Tay

SINGAPORE - Twenty six teenage boys (juniors) and 22 young men (seniors) attended the annual Vocation Camp and Retreat held at St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary from Dec 1-3. The camp and retreat were organized by the diocesan seminarians, the Diocesan Vocation Promotion Team led by Father Valerian Cheong, and the Serra Club of Singapore. 

The camp and retreat culminated with the seminary's feast day Mass celebrated by Archbishop Nicholas Chia, when he also launched "Called & Chosen", a production by the Serra Club of Singapore comprising a collection of the vocation stories of 17 local diocesan priests.

The participants of the camp and retreat attended talks by several priests and religious such as Father Terence Pereira and Brother Michael Broughton, and watched two videos "Fishers of Men" and "Pope John XXIII". They also participated in group sharings, prayers, and gained a deeper insight into seminary life as they talked with seminarians over meals.

For some of the participants, it was the beginning of a discernment process, following which, seminary rector Father William Goh explained, "the more serious ones journey with one of us priests."

Adrian Chan, 31, from the Church of the Holy Cross, registered for the retreat because "I was not sure whether or not I had a calling". During the retreat, he learnt "tools of discernment" such as spiritual consolation and desolation, and "how to confront inner feelings" and "how to ignore bad spirits". He was also encouraged to have "a regular and good prayer life".

Jeremy Lee, 19, from the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, said that the retreat helped him to realize that "it is very important to know if it is God's call or my own [desire]" because "if it's my own, it won't sustain". "This retreat is special for me because I've been coming for recollections in the past month. I got reassurance that I'm not alone in this journey."

(The next issue of CatholicNews will carry information on the qualities candidates to the seminary should have.)

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