Our Vocation Stories
The 1st Month (September 2011) - The Month of New Discoveries
The 1st month of my journey continues to be filled with much anxieties and excitements as I am now more involved in living in community with the Srs and I do not know what God has in place for me. It has been an awesome month during this transition phase where I tried to adapt to the routines of the Srs in community as well as trying to learn and know each Sr better through our regular conversations and communications.
This month has been a restful month for me as majority of my time was spent in prayers, readings, recreation as well as rest. It is a transition month for me as I learn how to let go of the life of been caught in a rat- race and to witness and experience the lives of the Srs. I am in fact, seeing myself taking a step back and looking at my life now instead of getting so involved in so much work. Much emphasis has been placed on trying to live a balance lifestyle which includes not just prayers, studies/ readings but also exercises, recreation and learning more about myself.
As one of the Canossian charisms is about Making Jesus Known & Loved, the Canossian Srs are involved in the catechetical movements of the church. I was introduced to the catechetical coordinator of Church of Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary where I started to attach myself to one of the classes so as to learn and get involved in this area of ministerial works. It has been arranged for me to start catechizing next year.
I recalled the various times over the past years when I kept praying about getting involved in the catechetical sessions. I remembered I was often either too fearful of the commitments needed or was feeling inadequate because of my limited knowledge of the church to catechize. However, this dream has been fulfilled as I no longer need to think of not being able to commit (because its now part of my life now) and with the grace of God, I had managed to learn to be a humble steward of God, to provide and serve with the very little that I have.
Getting involved in catechetical sessions at this point of time has been further affirmed because of the new evangelization which is about to take place in church, led by Fr Erbin (Catechetical Director of Archdiocese). I no longer felt inadequate as God has prepared formation sessions and trainings for us. I thank and praise God for this opportunity to place me at where I am now. I am now totally open to receive whatever training God has in place for me and all I seek now is to be a steward of God, learning to initiate the youths into the fullness of Christian life.
The gems of the church (Lessons & Courses with Srs and Archdiocese)
Lessons were held and carried out by Srs in community and for this month, I have lessons on the Church’s Liturgy and the Charism of our Foundress, St Magdalene of Canossa. These were the sacred moments where I was totally profoundly awed by the riches of the Roman Catholic Church which had been handed down through the generations over the past 2000years. Sharing of knowledge and faith with the Srs has further edify me in my thirst and hunger for God. The love He had shown to His people over the many generations has further spurred me on. These lessons have yet again showed me the greatness of God through the ages and have showed me that the foolishness of God is still wiser than the greatest wisdom of mankind. I also saw how God has revealed Himself continuously in His ways and means so as to keep us in our relationship with Him.
Never told to leave (stay away) my friends and family
I he always been someone who does not like much interference in what I am doing. I like to stay focus and would be upset if things do not go my way. As I had just entered this state of life, I wanted so badly to stay focus in learning to adapt as well as to learn as much as I can such that I would turn down dates so as not to get distracted. I supposed I just wanted to confine myself within this community and works at the initial stage.
However, I was in fact encouraged by Srs in communities to remain in close contact with friends and family members and to join them in occasions/ celebrations so as not to alienate myself from them. This will in fact help me in my formation and discernment process. This will also allow my family to gradually accept my decision to enter Postulancy, knowing that I will still be in contact with them.
In order to maintain a balanced lifestyle, Srs always encourage me to exercise, which is something that I lacked of since younger days due to hectic lifestyle. Exercising is also a way to build up my immunity and to provide my body with the necessary energy required to carry out my works.
As I am not familiar with the neighbourhood, Srs would accompany me to cycle around the area. At times, we would even go for a long walk after dinner. We would try to make it a point to go for a swim at the nearby swimming pool once a week. I recalled there was once when we set off before dawn just to cycle to the newly opened Serangoon Reservoir to catch the sunrise. Indeed, may all creation shout praises to God!
Those which were shared earlier are some of the more significant events and areas of growth which I had encountered during my 1st month and as anxieties continue to fill my heart, great joy and peace are deeply seated within my heart as I am now at home with God, enjoying all the moments I have and receiving all the love He has showered me with through the community of Srs and many parishioners from Nativity Church.
Love has always been shown by family members and friends who would often ask me out for a meal (if time permits) or just to chat. I had never dream that all these are still possible after entry and I thank God for this experiences.
Arrangements have been made for me to be attached to Morning Star Community Service Centre where I will have opportunities to work with primary school children. This attachment will begin next month (October) and I look forward to seeing how God will continue to lead and guide me.
Before I end this sharing, I would sincerely and humbly ask all of you to continue to keep me in your prayers as I continue on my journey to seek God’s will for me. Be assured that you are in my prayers too.
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The 2nd Month (October 2011)- The Month of New Exposure
Time really flies and before I realized, it is time to begin my attachment with Morning Star Community Services (in the following articles, this will be referred to as MSCS). Opportunities were generously given and arranged for me to work with people from different age groups. This is to allow myself to identify the group of people whom I am more comfortable working with, which in another words, mean the place where God might want me to minister in.
Attachment with MSCS is one of such opportunities. This was prearranged so that I could explore the possibility of working with children (7 years- 12 years). After a restful month, I was fuelled with so much energy to begin ministerial works. I supposed this is one of the major events that had happened this month.
Working with the Little Children
I have been working with adults in the past but there are often times when I would be filled with curiosity as in whether I will be able to work with little children. I had never dreamt that this day would come true. I am really thankful and grateful for such opportunity. Despite the fact that I have had some experience in working with small group of children (for tuition), the initial thought of this attachment had in fact freaked me- even though I am quite excited about what is to come. I was having many contradicting feelings going on within myself
The 1st week was filled with much anxieties and fear because I was new to the children and the environment/ routines. We do not seem to be able to gel with one another any better. Furthermore, I was not equipped with skills to handle these children and I have no classroom management skills. I found myself nearly drowned by the children’s enthusiasm during activities at times. I recalled that the one thing which I had made myself do was actually to learn and know each child by their name within the 1st two to three days. There were about 50 children. I guess this was the most “cruel” thing which I had made myself do but that proves to be something worthwhile. The effort is certainly paid off.
I am really blessed to have other facilitators who often help to provide support by keeping the children in an orderly manner. Not forgetting the grace of God, who gives me the patience to endure some of the “intolerable behaviours” which might have been portrayed by the children unintentionally/ unconsciously. I do not deny the fact that there were times when I lost my cool (trying to be firm) but these are the times when I started to reflect and grow from within. This has only proved to be our own human weaknesses that need God’s saving grace to show us His light. God has certainly walked very closely with me during these times and at times of desperation, Christ showed me the gentle way to use love to guide the children.
Subsequent weeks turned out to be much better as I start to know the children better and as we started to spend more time together. I am really glad and happy to be able to help them in their school work (during study time) and at the same time, to be involved in their outdoor/ indoor activities. Children are ultimately children. They are just so pure, innocent and adorable. They are the ones who are receptive to the love of adults and I strongly believe that time will reveal such love for them and love will break down the barriers between us.
Working with the youths
Attachment with the catechetical office at Church of Nativity of Blessed Virgin Mary sees opportunities to work with the youths as well as adults in the catechetical office. Weekends would be the time to spend with the youths.
As it has been quite a while since I last worked with youths, this period of attachment has helped me to draw closer to them, relearning how to engage them in conversations and learning more about them.
As I continued my attachment with the catechetical office, I find myself adjusting well. I am really thankful for the group of catechists who are so full of hospitality in welcoming me into their team.
This month continues to be relatively intense for us as we had been meeting nearly twice a week to prepare for the upcoming confirmation camp which is to be held in November. We do hope all is well and that all of us would be open to the movement of the Spirit of God during this preparation period as well as the camp itself.
Continuing to discover and dig the gems of the Church
Formation is still on- going for the month of October, having lessons with Srs as well as attending courses at Singapore Pastoral Institute (SPI).
The Newbie in the community has fallen sick
That was something which I was teased upon jokingly by one of the Srs. I had fallen ill for a period of time due to over anxieties and pressures which I had put upon my own shoulders. I am glad that my postulant mistress and I had managed to detect the root causes of my sickness and that was something which I will need to work through. I am also thankful to have the Srs to look after me.
I recalled having terrible headaches after work one day. My head was spinning and I was feeling lethargic. I found myself losing balance while walking back to my room such that I needed the wall to support myself.
As I was sitting with it with my Lord, the insight which I received was my “inability” to cope with noises of the children. I was unable to tolerate rowdiness. As the prayer went deeper, it was actually due to my inner struggle for approval. That was something which Lord God has showed me. I found myself caught in between authorities (superiors) as well as my own stand. I may find that the noise level of a group of children is acceptable but that is not true for the others. I found myself struggling to put my point across but at the same time, wanting to do as told by superiors. That was my human weakness. I thank God for His grace and light in this experience (even though it feels yucky to be sick) because this has taught me how to stand firm on my viewpoint and not do things just for the sake of seeking approvals but because I truly wanted it that way (motivation for doing things must be right).
This is probably one of the initial movements within my inner self since the day I moved in. This is part of the journey as I learn how to be a freer person in making choices (to quieten the children or to leave them as they are) and learning how to avoid getting caught in conflicts.
The month of October seem to be filled with much stress and tears but all the more it has been proven that God has been with me in all these. November seem to be as exciting as the confirmation camp is coming up. School holidays are coming too and the work at MCSC seems to look more intimidating than it is at the present moment because there will be more children around.
Whatever it may seem to be, I am still looking forward to what is to come because I know that God will be with me in all of my days and will always be there to catch me if I am to fall.
In Love w/ God,
Canossian Daughters of Charity