Walking With 
The Elderly
Jacob Wong 
1st Year Philosophy
t has been an old tradition of College General for its first year philosophy students to be engaged in works of charity in welfare home for the aged as part of their weekend pastoral exposure and formation. Normally the students will be sent to the old folks home of The little Sister of The Poor and Home for the Infirmed (adjacent to Lam Wah Ee Hospital). In the priestly ministry, a priest is required to minister to people of all classes and age groups. Priesthood has been described as a 'caring profession" and a priest is asked to exercise the work of pastoral care as a symbol of Christ's love for the world. Therefore, works of charity are an important part of the priestly training. Throughout the program we are not only required to learn how to handle the physical needs of the old people but also their emotional and spiritual needs. This year we have only four first year philosophers, hence, the College has divided the class into two groups that have been respectively assigned pastoral work at both places mentioned above. 

George Harrison and I were doing our pastoral work at the Little Sister of the Poor in our first semester. Every Sunday, both of us are required to report in by 7.15am. We begin our work by bathing the invalid inmates, followed by feeding during the breakfast. After breakfast, we will continue our work by shaving some of the inmates and consequently chatting with them. Communicating with the old people requires a great deal of initiative on our part because we have to overcome our shyness and awkwardness. The Sunday Mass is at ten o'clock. Before the Mass begins we help the old people to get to the chapel and prepare the first reading and commentary for the liturgy. Lunchtime for the bed-ridden is at 11.30am and for other inmates, 12.00 noon. We are required to feed some of those who are invalid and do some clean up there after.  

The other two members of the class, William and Michael were assigned to the Home for the Infirmed for the first half of the year. Every Sunday, both of them attend the 7.15 am Mass at the Holy Spirit Church before proceeding to their destination for pastoral. The situation at this particular home is very different from the former. There are no fixed working schedules, most of the work depends on their own initiative. Talking and listening to the inmates constitutes the most important work. In addition to that, they also assist with the feeding of the invalids during lunch. 

This whole idea and experience of pastoral care for the aged has also caught on with the whole community. In line with the theme "Experiencing Jesus in Words, Sacraments and Persons", the community had decided to visit the Silver Jubilee Old folks home. We did some "gotong-royong" during our visit to the home. Upon returning the community gathered in small groups to reflect and share about their experiences earlier in the morning. 

The four of us agree that our pastoral experience at these homes has been very meaningful. We have learnt some of the necessary skills in taking care of the old people. However, the most important experience we gained is the experience of being with the old people and the ability to understand their emotional and spiritual needs. At the same time, we also found that the experience has led to much soul-searching and self-discovery. This has been a very important part of our seminary-training program.

Message from the Rector
The Call 

Francis Andrew 
Dominic Santiyagu 
Thomas Loh 
Raphael Marian 

Initiation Year

ife was an exciting adventure for most of us before joining the seminary. We were free like birds as life was extremely fabulous because we had almost no restriction whatsoever. We worked for several years in the parameter of a fast moving world. We had many opportunities to climb the ladder of success and to possess whatever we dreamt of since our school days. Our pragmatism never failed to provide the best to capture and accumulate society's materialistic needs. Social life, entertainment and extensive travelling wasn't peculiar for us as it was part and parcel of our routine. We even had many jobs available to choose and to satisfy our ego. Although two of us had experienced falling in love but we eventually favored  a life  of a different nature.  

Our true interest in the priesthood began when we found there was something abysmally missing in our lives. We were erring; we wanted to explore, attempt and accomplish a product of inner joy and serve unconditionally. Hence we reflected and finally realized that God is inviting us to be His servants. Initially we were reluctant due to our short-comings and self-centredness. However, this repetition of call never seemed to cease until we made this courageous decision to experience life in the seminary.  

Eventually we were glad to be accepted into the Initiation Year. Our life here is very much different in comparison to our working lives. The training too varies from a normal college. No doubt there are similarities in the study programs such as classes, time for lectures, methods of teaching, assignments, sports and others but the difference is the commitment of the formators, their friendliness and also the encouragement of  fellow seminarians.  
Our lives have become more meaningful especially in the context of prayer life, altar serving and different methods of meditation. The monthly spiritual direction also further strengthens and deepens our loving relationship with God. 

In the seminary we are also reminded to be humble, docile and ever willing to learn from the formation programs. Although there are 'ups' and 'downs' due to our different cultures, backgrounds and races, we practice tolerance and compromise if something unusual arises. These help us to grow, work and stay in one big friendly family spear headed by Jesus our master. 

Last but not least, we are slowly adapting ourselves fruitfully towards the priestly formation. Why not, like Jesus challenged his disciples, would you too like to ... "Come and See" (Jn 1:39).

"...the repetition of call never seemed to cease until we made this courageous decision to experience life in the seminary."
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