The best part of the retreat was that it was truly a time of grace for all of us. Many of us could sense a new spring time of grace for us in the local Church of Singapore. The Holy Spirit is moving powerfully in the lives of God’s people and his young ones are feeling the holy restlessness and stirring that only he can give. As our Rector said, “their passion and conviction for the Church” edified us and excites us for the future of the Church in Singapore. It is our dream that God will continue to raise up a new generation of Shepherds after his own heart; men who will lay down their lives for Jesus Christ and the mission of the Church in the New Millennium. I also attribute much of this renewal we are experiencing as God’s generous response to the humble pleas of his people. I am sure many of the participants were deeply moved to see members from the Serra Club of Singapore and the Divine Mercy Prayer Group of Holy Cross Church interceding before our Eucharistic Lord round the clock from the time the retreat started till the concluding mass. Thank you Lord for these fine co-workers you have given us in praying for a new generation of labourers for your Vineyard!
There were also some beautiful testimonies given by the participants at the closing Mass of the retreat which was celebrated by our Vicar General, Msgr Eugene Vaz. It was unfortunate that our Archbishop had to be at a FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops Conference) meeting because I think he would have also been deeply encouraged by these young men. Msgr Vaz shared an insight that was very enlightening. Our theme for the retreat was “Wrestling With God” (Gen 32: 22-32) and he shared with us that the call of our lives was to wrestle with God to such a point that we become totally bound up with him. Just as in a wrestling match, the 2 opponents become so intertwined until one gets pinned down by the other, so too, we often struggle with God in our journey with him to eventually become so intimately intertwined with him that we become bound up. Then, we can celebrate the victory of God in our lives. What a beautiful image and so true about our lives. Even our struggling with God reveals how closely bound we are to him. Such is the story of our vocations.
I was also very glad that one of the participants approached me after the retreat to share with me his desire that all of us who were present at the retreat should make a pledge that starting with this batch of participants; we would commit ourselves to change the culture amongst young Catholics in Singapore, removing the stigma of vocation discernment. He sincerely felt that every Catholic young person should discern his vocation as part and parcel of his walk with Jesus and as much as it is the ideal, the truth is that we are far from having such a culture amongst our young Catholics, even those who may be very active in Catholic organizations. I told him that it was excellent that he felt that way and that we didn’t need a pledge, what we need is the witness of our lives. When we show our contemporaries that it is exciting to walk with Jesus and that seeking his will in terms of our particular vocation in life is normal; others too will pluck up the courage to have a change in mindset. That is what we need the most at present. We need a change in mindset. We need a conversion of our minds – we need Metanoia!
Would you join us in changing the current culture that stigmatizes vocation discernment amongst our young people? We must repeat the exhortation of Pope John Paul II to young people, “If Christ calls, Do Not Be Afraid!”