9 young men from the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur responded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to discern God’s will as they thirsts to know more about the diocesan priesthood. They have taken the first step by attending the 2016 Diocesan Vocation Retreat which was held at Good Shepherd Church on the 1st and 2nd of July. The theme for this stay-in retreat was ‘Make A Difference’. Beginning with mass and Eucharistic adoration, the retreat was structured to give a glimpse into the life of a diocesan priest.
The retreat was coordinated by Bro Vincent Thomas, final year student at the St Francis Xavier Seminary, Singapore. Rev Fr Christopher began by giving an introduction to the Diocesan priesthood. Having been ordained as a priest for 20 years, Fr Chris was able to relate to the young gentlemen his journey, struggles and joy – albeit in an intimate and informal manner. The Church continues to place the highest value on the work of priestly formation, because it is linked to the very mission of the Church, especially the evangelization of humanity: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28:19).
The next morning, the participants was introduced to the Divine Office (Liturgy of the Hours) by Bro Vincent Thomas. From ancient times the Church has had the custom of celebrating each day the Liturgy of the Hours. In this way the Church fulfils the Lord’s precept to pray without ceasing, at once offering its praise to God the Father and interceding for the salvation of the world. The celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours demands not only harmonizing the voice with the praying heart, but also a deeper understanding of the liturgy and of the Bible, especially of the Psalms. He also spoke on the importance of daily prayer.
Rev Fr Augustine Lee then shared on choosing the right vocation. To be precise, a man only “knows” he is called when he is ordained! However, there are many positive signs that can point to a vocation and which can help a man make the decision to enter the seminary and continue along the path towards the priesthood. Most diocesan priests are parish priests. They celebrate Mass on Sundays and during the week with their people, hear their confessions, anoint them when they are sick, baptize, marry and bury them. They preach the Word of God from the pulpit and teach it in classrooms and discussion groups. They listen to their people’s joys and sorrows and often take the initiative to promote works of charity and justice. They may work with groups of the elderly, with teen or young adult groups and with parents. “Basic to the ministry of any priest is preaching the Word of God, celebrating the sacraments and being available to God’s people. It’s a busy, rewarding life that demands stamina and spiritual maturity,” he said.
Bro. Albert Arputhan and Bro. Anthony Robert from College General, Penang also shared their vocation story and inspired the participants. Fr Chris continued to share on living a fulfilling life as a priest. He also emphasised that a religious priest or brother commits himself to Christ and the Christian community by the Evangelical Counsels, or vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Bro Vincent Thomas then shared on the life of a seminarian, including the assessment and application process. Guided by the overall diocesan goal to nurture and develop holy and well-formed priests, great care is taken to ensure a careful and thorough assessment and application process for all potential seminarian candidates. Bro Vincent also shared his experience during homily in the sunset mass. Archbishop Julian Leow took this opportunity to drop by and give a pep talk to inspire these young aspirants.
Vocation Directors, Fr Chris and Fr Augustine expressed their heartfelt gratitude to the parish priests who sent their candidates for this retreat. They also thanked the Sacred Heart church Vocation Promotion Team who assisted in preparing fellowship and other matters. It is hoped that this weekend spent in prayer, reflection and discussion on the ministry of the priest will certainly help a potential candidate to discern his vocation.
“...today, with great strength and great conviction, on the basis of long personal experience of life, I say to you, dear young people: Do not be afraid of Christ! He takes nothing away, and gives you everything. When we give ourselves to Him, we receive a hundred-fold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ - and you will find true life. Amen.” Pope Benedict XVI
By Charmaine Amanda