... newly ordained Jesuit advises those discerning their call to the religious life
“Listen to your deepest inner desire in life and discern if God is calling you,” says newly-ordained Jesuit priest, Fr Agustinus Tanudjaja.
“The fruits of the spirit are faith, hope and love. If you experience these fruits when you consider [a religious] vocation, then you are in the right direction of doing God’s will.”
Fr Agus, as he is known to his Jesuit community, was sharing with CatholicNews some words of advice for those considering the priesthood or Religious life.
The 44-year-old Indonesian-born priest, now a Singapore citizen, was ordained at the Church of St Ignatius by Archbishop Nicholas on April 28. Some of his family members flew in specially for the occasion.
Fr Agus, who entered the Jesuit seminary in Singapore in 2001, said, “The transition from being a seminarian to being a priest is like being in the background to being in the foreground.
As a priest, “I have a greater responsibility to God and the community. I have to take on pastoral leadership and help others encounter Christ through the sacraments,” said the Jesuit who grew up in Jakarta.
The journey to the priesthood was not entirely smooth. “When I was in high school, and later university in Australia, I shifted my focus from God to my studies. Religion took a backseat, although I come from a third generation Catholic family and received a strong Catholic influence from my parents, siblings and school in Jakarta,” Fr Agus recalled.
After graduating from Melbourne’s RMIT University in computer science and engineering, he came to Singapore to visit his elder sister and her husband.
Within a month, Fr Agus got a job at a multinational company here working in software product development.
“Again my focus was not on spirituality but rather on advancing my career and earning money,” he shared.
However, he had a deep spiritual experience when he attended a Life in the Spirit Seminar. “I found that God was what I truly desired in my inner search which a career didn’t satisfy.”
He then joined the Legion of Mary as he likes praying the rosary.
Recalling how he got to know the Jesuits, he said, “I was always drawn to a contemplative life of prayer and also equally to missionary work. After I attended a Jesuit vocation weekend, I found that the Jesuits practised both, which was exactly what I was looking for!”
Fr Agus said his seminary life was well balanced, comprising prayer, studies and apostolate work.
One of his most challenging experiences as a novice was working as an organic farmer in Lim Chu Kang as part of his training. “The long hours under the intense heat of the sun doing strenuous physical labour was not an experience I would want to go through again. But I’m happy I didn’t give up,” he said.
Fr Agus also worked in the Philippines, Timor Leste and Canada. In Manila, he worked with a youth ministry, leading in reflections and conducting retreats. He also assisted the Manila Youth Rehabilitation Centre in providing recreational activities for detained young offenders.
When he was in Toronto, Canada, he was a catechist with an RCIA team.
“I have about two more years of licentiate study, commonly known as the second cycle of Theology left to complete. After which, I will see what plans my regional superior has for me,” he said.
Earlier on April 28, the Jesuits held an open house for people to learn more about their community. One participant, Mr Leonard Mah, shared, “It’s a wonderful experience to speak to the seminarians and know more about the order. I hope to attend a Jesuit vocation retreat when it’s organised.”
By Martin See