From L-R: Francis Tan (F), Brandon Ng (B), Joel Tan (J)
Tell us more about yourself!
F: Hey there! I am Francis Tan and am 28 this year. Something interesting about me is that I have already worked for 7 years! I was a Police Officer, a Financial Consultant and finally a Youth Coordinator at the Office for Young People (OYP). I am quite a simple person and enjoy reading, nature, and exercising.
B: I’m a Computer Science graduate from NTU & have worked for the telecoms industry prior to entering the Seminary. I really enjoy playing with techie stuff but I also love just getting out in the sun for a cycle around Singapore.
J: Hi! My name is Joel Jonas Tan and I am an ordinary man seeking to do the extraordinary will of God! Prior to entering the Seminary, I graduated from NUS with a Computer Science degree and worked as a Software Engineer in start-ups both locally and overseas. During my leisure time, I enjoy listening to music, singing and playing the guitar
Who inspired you the most on your vocation journey?
F: Fr Jude David! He revealed to me the heart of the Good Shepherd when I was lost and taught me what it means to truly lay down one’s life – what it means to love. OYP was also like my second family that allowed me to be free to be myself, to be loved and to live the fullness of life in Jesus Christ.
B: St. Peter and Fr Brian D’Souza! I choose St. Peter because he was quite a “dumb dumb” but for some odd reason, Jesus still chose him. I think I take comfort in knowing that Jesus knows what He is doing in choosing me. Hahaha! Fr Brian was and still continues to be the fatherly figure in my life, guiding and teaching me what is it means to love.
J: I am deeply inspired by Archbishop William Goh. Having served many retreats in my youth with him as the retreat master, I saw how he was a shepherd who dwelled among the sheep. He has a great knowledge of the faith especially with his licentiate in dogmatic theology, yet, he often spoke and ministered the love of Christ in a simple yet profound way. I witnessed how he became the person of Christ to the common persons and I am inspired to do the same.
What has been your most joyful moment of formation thus far?
F: While the entire schedule is really quite wholesome (in all kinds of aspects even food), what I truly enjoyed is being able to learn and discover more of myself each day. I have never been so self-aware before and each day is a new day of learning and growth!
B: Community living – I think it is quite an experience to live with 13 other grown men, each having their own character and styles of doing things. Yet it’s in this diversity that God shows me that He doesn’t just call one type of person to the priesthood but rather how many parts make up one body.
J: I really enjoy my pastoral visits to Mount Alvernia with my fellow Initiation Year Brothers. I get to keep company and pray with the sick and the dying. I also get to say prayers of blessings for new-born babies and their families! It is such a blessing for me to be given the opportunity to minister and bring the hope of Christ to them. I am reminded of both the beauty and shortness of this life and to live life to the fullest.
What is the one thing you miss having entered the seminary? Any regrets?
F: My mum’s home cooked food. Hahaha! On a more serious note, I am surprised that I miss listening to people’s testimonies and seeing how even in the midst of their struggles, they still choose to bear witness to God. Those things have always encouraged and edified me. But definitely no regrets!
B: I miss my friends (you know just seeing them on a regular even daily basis) but I think they miss me more lah. HAHAHA! I won’t call them regrets, but rather just a bit “sian” that I can’t meet them as and when I want to anymore.
J: I miss having and pursuing the dreams I had for myself. Although some of these dreams remain buried within, I am learning to let go more and more each day. I have no regrets for I am convinced that this is where God has led me and that He has a purpose for me being here. Even though uncertainty lies ahead, I know that God is with me each step of the journey and His love will follow me all the days of my life.
Are things always so serious in the seminary?
F: Haha you will be surprised. While formation is certainly serious stuff, the seminary is also filled with joys and laughter even in the chapel and classrooms! You wouldn’t want your future priests to always be so solemn and grave right!
B: Of course not! I don’t think I have laughed so much in my life. Each day has just been filled with so much joy. And hey, we do cool things too… stuff that you’ll find out after you join us. WAHAHAHAHA!
J: Not at all!
What is one piece of advice you have for those who are discerning a vocation towards the priesthood?
F: The most important thing is to be honest with God and with yourself in your discernment. Vocation itself is a personal gift from God and none is greater than the other. God alone appoints and chooses. All we need to do is to respond, not just with a decision, but with our entire lives!
B: The Call is a Gift, how you treat it is your own decision – protect it or throw it away. Jesus invites – your mission, if you choose to accept is entirely in your hands.
J: Take courage my dear brother and do not be afraid to explore where our Lord might be leading you. Look for a spiritual director who will be able to walk with you and guide you in your discernment. Lastly, in all things, never stop praying!