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Abel Madisang: Whenever we talk about vocation to the priesthood, one thing that comes to my mind is ‘to offer oneself totally to God to continue his mission to share God’s love and compassion for the salvation of souls,’ as well as ‘to sacrifice the life of marriage.’
Frankly speaking, I have never thought of becoming a priest. I am just like the other youngsters. I have my own ambitions in life. I want a good job, a house for my future family, and also I want to get married. Therefore, becoming a priest is not in my list of ‘wants’.
It happened one day when an uncle came and talked to me about vocation to the priesthood. I just listened to him and, after he finished speaking, I said to him “No, I don’t want it. You’d better look for someone else.” I was 17 years old then.
But my plan was not God’s plan. When I was 19 years old, something made me begin to think of priesthood. It started with a dream, and this was the foundation of my vocation story.
In my dream, I saw myself, together with a group of people, singing and praising God. It was a wonderful moment. But something distracted me. In the midst of singing and praising, I heard a voice asking to be freed. When I looked at where the voice came from, I saw someone was being carried away. I saw that he was really struggling to free himself. Eventually he was freed. I saw him sitting not far from where we were standing and then I heard him say “I believe that someone here will become a priest.’ When he finished speaking, I woke up from sleep. His words were still fresh in my mind. Because of this dream I found myself saying “I want to become a priest” and took the first step to the priesthood.
But in our life most of us do not pay much attention to dreams. Dreams are images, emotions, and sensations that occur in the mind during sleep. But for me, what I did with mine, I kept it inside my heart. I didn’t reveal it to anyone, even to my family. Whenever I entered into a time of prayer, I would bring it to God, asking Him to show me the way.
On reaching 21 years old, I met with my parish priest to talk about vocation to the priesthood. I felt that I was ready to join the seminary. But, my hope was dashed when the priest told me ‘Don’t think about it first; if it is God’s call, he will call you. Just pray for it.’
Disappointed and heartbroken, I stepped outside the priest’s office and said to myself ‘There is no more hope for this, no more priesthood for me.’ I actually wanted to forget about the whole thing. But, thanks to God, one thing that consoled my heart was the words of the priest “Just pray for it”. I obeyed and prayed for it for over three years to see whether God was really calling me.
For three years, I was actively involved in the church as lector, altar server, in the choir and in the Charismatic prayer group. Celebrating the Eucharist and praying were the highlights of my life. But the more I served in the church, the more I felt in my heart that something was missing.
During a vocation seminar in 2005, I took courage to say “yes” to the priesthood and was accepted as an aspirant by Fr John Wong (now Archbishop John Wong). Along the journey, I would find out whether I really had a call. It was a journey fraught with problems, difficulties, and uncertainties. But one thing that I could do and always remember to do was to pray.
By 2013 I completed my eight years of formation, six years in St Peter’s College and two years in Sabah. I am filled with joy and gratitude knowing that God is always there whenever I look for him in prayer and realizing that God actually wants me to be his instrument! I have finally found the ‘missing thing’ that I was searching for.
I am grateful to God for His amazing love and for making me a servant in His vineyard to share His mercy and love to others.
God works mysteriously in our life as he did in mine. We do not know, only God knows everything of who we are. Ora et Labora