The Church is more than simply a place to pray. It is “also a way immigrants remember home”, where they find space to remember their own cultures and traditions, said a Singaporean who was ordained a priest in the United States.
Fr Felix Lim, 42, was ordained at the Cathedral of St Mary of the Assumption in San Francisco, California, on May 19.
The old boy of St Joseph’s Institution, who worked with immigrants in Philadelphia as a layperson, said his own immigrant experience in the US is useful in helping him understand their plight.
“Feeling displaced is basically invisible, perhaps even to the person who is experiencing it,” he told CatholicNews in an email.
However, priests can “draw this reality into the open and make it visible”.
Priests can “seek to understand the hidden wounds of such people through active questioning, using a kind of imaginative, empathetic inquiry through which people give voice to the changes they have to face”, he said.
Fr Lim is currently serving as a parochial vicar at St Cecilia Church in San Francisco. It is a large parish serving over 2,000 families, Fr Lim said, and he is “still getting acclimated to parish life”.
The former National Junior College student graduated with two bachelor degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s from the Wharton School of Business.
He worked in the finance industry for eight years, and had been living in the San Francisco Bay area when he contacted the seminary there to discern a possible priestly vocation for himself.
Fr Lim said his parents and his involvement in the Legion of Mary during his school days were important factors for him deciding to become a priest.
Likening the priestly vocation to marriage, a “gift of grace” by God, he said he is grateful that his parents had shown him a “wonderful example of sacrificial love”.
There were pain, illnesses, misunderstandings, hurt, anger, conflict as well as the everyday struggles of raising a family through difficult times, he noted. But his parents’ faith in God helped them stay committed as husband and wife.
The Legion of Mary had also led him to a “deeper desire to serve God totally through the priesthood”, Fr Lim shared.
It is a “tremendous privilege to be called to the priesthood”, he said, adding that the “many holy and generous priests and Religious” that he knows in the San Francisco area have been good role models for him.
By Darren Boon