I have let the weeks slipped by without an entry and I was about to let another few more days to go on before I put something down here but thought otherwise. I am getting lazy with this blog...
I thought that I would be able to have a little more time here to cater to more frequency of using and updating my blog but that doesn't seem to be the case. Call it procrastination and the lethargy that sets in when I get caught up with other work and administrative matters. I have been here for the past 7 months and by October I would be finishing a year in this Major Seminary as the Spiritual Director of the House.
As an SD of the House it is my responsibility to ensure that the seminarians get the right balance of spiritual formation and a proper take to the roles and responsibilities that come together within the purview of the priesthood. In this time and age, it can be very challenging to prepare our young men (some are already middle aged!) to face adequately the forces of the world that are constantly at odds with our values and lifestyle we are upholding. We, the Seminary Fathers, can only do so much and the rest would be up to them to navigate carefully as befit their ministerial priesthood later.
With 17 of them in the seminary this year, of which 10 are local Singaporeans, it isn't really a great number to be comfortable with when we look at the growing numbers of baptised Catholics that have come up over the past 10 years. According to the National Census of 2010, we have with us a total of 219,133 Catholics (of whom 165,520 are PRs) in the Singapore, who are 15 years and above. Add in those below 15 years and infants who are baptised and the numbers will certainly be a lot more.
But we are still maintaining our total number of priests at around the average of 130, both religious and diocesan. But not all are fully functioning in the parish and we have others who are away on leave (study or medical) and some who have retired. So, you can do your math to see how overworked the clergy is, in living out their ministry in the Archdiocese.
Meanwhile, our vocation programs are slowly bringing about the necessary awareness for more your men to consider and discern their calling toward the life of a priest. There are vocation teams at most parish and the Seminary conducts vocation retreats and recollections over periodic months of the year and keep in contact with the aspirants. Much of this work is led by Fr Alex Chua who is the archdiocese's Vocation Director.
But we need to translate the program's activities into fruits of new admissions into the Seminary of these men who have journeyed through much of the discernment process and vocation programs with Fr Alex as well as the Seminary fathers. We certainly do not expect to see a flood of people suddenly wanting to join the seminary just like that! But, it would be fitting if there were a steady intake of around 2 or 3 men every year, assuming these men are rightly motivated and have been judged suitable to continue their journey into the seminary's formation.
For now, it would be a major windfall if we ever get one...