Come and See to experience Jesus

So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the Lord came and stood there, calling out as before: Samuel, Samuel! Samuel answered, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3:9-10 (NABRE)

Feb 02, 2024

In this time and age, it can be challenging to hear the Word of God. In this struggle we can be led into believing that we are doing God’s work when we could be doing the total opposite. Hence daily discernment is crucial in our lives.

Seventeen young men, aged 17 to 25, from the Diocese of Malacca Johore, took up the challenge to find out their calling in life, either to the priesthood, the religious life, to the married state or to remain single. “Come and See” was the invitation to these young men to experience Jesus with Fr Adrian Francis, Vocation Director, together with five seminarians from College General, Penang and St Peters College, Kuching.

Pastores dabo vobis (I shall give you shepherds) was the focal point of the camp. It is an apostolic exhortation released on March 25, 1992, by Pope John Paul II. It concerns the formation of priests and was addressed to both clergy and the lay faithful of the Catholic Church. Seminarians disclosed their vocation story on how they had responded to the calling. They spoke about the realities of life, both joyful and desolate, that each one of them had to go through and how they depended on Christ. The evening was filled with physical activities, since God has made us embodied creatures, the physical body has an important role to play in our spiritual and holistic health.

On the second day there was a visit to Miriam Home, residence for the aged, run by the Canossian Sisters for the past 30 years. Starting the day with Holy Mass with the residents, the aspirants spent their day in conversation. They were blessed also to serve the seniors during lunch and fed some of them. Deepening their awareness of life, it was a profound experience. The seniors reminded them that age is not a barrier to happiness, knowledge, or the capacity for love. They witnessed also the tenacity and unyielding spirit in the elderly who treasured each day, respected relationships, and valued the lessons that came from their experiences through their daily lives.

As the camp came to an end, these men revealed how they had come to recognise Jesus in a refreshing way. Through the sessions, sharing, games, visitations and most importantly the Holy Mass, they were refreshed, recharged to refocus on discerning God’s call in their lives. The call to the priesthood that echoed in some men was received with great joy by all. Even as they realised that there would be many hurdles in following Christ, they embraced the exhortation “Be not afraid!” by Saint Pope John Paul II. As everyone parted ways, this became a new beginning for these men who will stay in contact to support each other under the guidance of the vocation director. They were encouraged to stay in contact with the seminarians for a “fraternal accompaniment” in their lives.

This era has become extremely challenging with regard to vocation. However, as history has shown, the Church flourishes best when she meets with crisis. Today, as we encounter the challenges of our time, the Church needs her priests to bring Christ everywhere. Perhaps such camps are opportunities for us to pray for more vocations in the world. — By Jerome The young men visit the elderly at Miriam Home. Lingam

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