Dearest family and friends,
Our Custody concluded our year by preparing for the new year. For five days from 29 Nov to 3 Dec 2021, the friars in Singapore and Malaysia gathered in person (appropriately socially distanced, of course) and via Zoom (for those in Malaysia) for our Custody retreat. Sr Linda Lizada, a Cenacle Sister, journeyed with us as we reflected on the theme, “Hunger Pangs of Love”, and listened to where God is leading us and challenging us individually and as a fraternity.
We took this time of retreat and resting in the Lord to ready our souls for two big events in 2022. In July, we will gather as brothers for our Custody Assembly to reflect on the journey thus far and discern what the Lord is inviting and challenging us to. In October, we have the Chapter where we will make concrete recommendations and resolutions for the Custody Council to act upon for the next three years. Thus, the tilling of hearts at the retreat makes us ready to receive, plant and grow the seeds of hope and mission at the Assembly and the Chapter.
The seeds of hope and mission were also planted in our hearts for those of us who participated in the ordination of five of our friars as deacons. Friars Cosmas Francis, Crispus Mosinoh, Gerald Terence Saimel, Robin Toha and Sixtus Pitah Amit were ordained by the Archbishop of Singapore, Most Rev William Goh on 26 Nov 2021 at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. The new deacons began their Franciscan formation journey in 2014, and have since matured as responsible, empathic and authentic religious. It has been such a joy for me personally to witness their growth through the years. Let us keep them in prayer as they go about their diaconate attachments.
During these times, I sometimes ask myself if I have moved forward, if I am back in the same place where I started, or worse, if I have regressed. But is regression all that bad? Could it be that in regressing I actually open space for more growth to take place? And I am not in the same exact spot where I was years ago. Sometimes our vision is rather 2D, and the circle of life looks like it is bringing us back to the same spot. It could be that we are triggered by the same people, words and actions, or we spiral into the same patterns of behaviour or thinking that are not life-giving. However if we are intentional in our growth and place this growth in God’s garden of grace, then this 2D vision can morph into 3D. With God, we are not merely rotating round an axis, but we are journeying in movement, and borrowing St Bonaventure’s words, our souls “journey into God”.
As we enter the new year, we may make similar resolutions and have similar desires as in the past, and we may think to ourselves that we have not moved at all. Perhaps if we put God in our life’s equation, or rather, put ourselves in God’s equation, we may find ourselves actually spiralling into the depths of God’s peaceful presence. May this peace of the Lord be always yours.
Peace and all good,
Friar Derrick Yap OFM
Custody of St Anthony