Some of the participants at the May 7-9 vocations camp
sharing with a religious representative at the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary.
By Benedict Tang
"COMMUNITY for mission" probably best sums up Religious life, said Canossian Sister Christina Yeo to this year's 25 participants in the Archdiocesan Vocations Discernment Encounter. Sr Christina was one of two main speakers at the May 7-9 camp at the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary.
Speaking on the camp's theme Fully Human, Fully Alive, she explained that one needs to properly discern one's vocation in life to become "fully human and fully alive". How do we know if we are fully alive? she asked. "We will experience a sense of inner, interior freedom," she said, adding that one needs to connect with one's inner self, both the emotional and the biblical.
"We need to listen daily to God through prayer and the Scriptures. Having spiritual direction through a personal confessor would also be excellent for these purposes, " she added.
"We need to rediscover our basic human vocation as a Christian, for as Jesus is the full revelation of being fully alive and human, knowing and understanding Him will unravel the mystery of our being, adding a deep dimension to our lives," she said.
Jesuit Father Philip Heng, the other speaker, explained the new understanding of the vows of obedience, poverty and chastity. "The vows are to free us, not bind us. They are God's gifts for the Church and the community," he said.
Religious must continually nurture these gifts to strive towards "being fully human, fully alive". Our vocation, whether it be the priesthood, married life or single blessedness must be outwards in service for salvation, he added.
Religious and priests also shared with the participants their vocation stories. Br Anthony Lim, a seminarian, said his zeal for mission work in Third World countries led him to serve the Church in the Scheut Missions. Cannosian Sister Elizabeth Sim shared that her nursing job background helped to prepare her for Religious life.
Fr Alfred Chan, director of initiation at the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary, shared how his family's financial difficulties were overcome by his trust in divine providence, which freed him to join the seminary.
Fr Simon Pereira noted that seminary or novitiate formation today is less stringent compared to his time, which is a good thing, he added.
The participants, aged between 21 and 35, also discussed with the various Religious representatives their options and opinions about joining the Religious life and diocesan priesthood.
Miss Teresa Lye, 29, who had been receiving spiritual direction from the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, said: "I felt that I was able to discern my vocation in life better after this camp, and Fr Heng's session was certainly the most helpful."
An Archdiocesan Vocation Prayer Group is being formed for persons interested to pray and have guided discernment about one's vocation with community support. For more information about the Archdiocesan Vocation Prayer Group contact the Redemptorist Vocation Directors at Novena Church (255-2133).The Catholic News (May 30, 1999)