16 March 2024

Recollection for Friars ‘Under 5’

A small group of young Franciscan Friars from the Custody of St Anthony (Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei) began 2024 in Danang, Vietnam.

Except for Custos Friar Derrick Yap, who guided the recollection, all of them are in their first five years of Solemn Profession or Ordination. This is one of the most volatile periods in Religious Life, when statistically most breakdowns happen. Hence this “Under 5” effort to accompany more closely Solemnly Professed “young friars” who are “under 5”.

There are seven Solemnly Professed friars “under 5” – two in Singapore, one in Johor Bahru, three in Penang and one in Sabah. Five of these seven went to Vietnam.

The five days (1-5 January) had a good balance of prayer, formation and fellowship. It was also an opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of Vietnam, as well as the local cuisine.

Friar Derrick used “Clowning in Rome”, which is a compilation of Henri Nouwen’s addresses to Religious Men and Women in Rome, to set the framework for the recollection.

In line with the Order’s desire for friars to be ‘Contemplative Fraternities in Mission’, the five young friars delved into the chapter on “Contemplation and Caring”. In the recollection, they were invited to recognise how their life of prayer is deeply connected to their life in ministry. Especially being young friars, there can arise a very real temptation and expectation to work and minister, and give more of themselves, at the expense of their prayer life and spending time in contemplation.

As Nouwen said in “Clowning in Rome”: “To contemplate is to see, and to minister is to make visible, the contemplative life is a life with a vision, and the life of caring for others is a life revealing the vision to others.”

Striking this balance of prayer and ministry, or “contemplation and caring” as the recollection material called it, has been a real challenge, as the friars shared vulnerably. Guided to re-centre themselves in the Lord in contemplation once again, the friars returned from this recollection renewed in their vocation, ministry and relationship with the Lord, as well as in fraternal love and support for one another.

“This recollection together with my batch mates in fraternity really helped me to begin the year on a right footing of prayer and fraternity. Now that all of us are in full-time ministry, more so we need to recognize that a solid prayer life is foundational in enabling us to minister effectively,” said Friar Gerald Tan

You May Also Like