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Vocational testimony of Fr. Dennis Lim LC

Vocational testimony of the Fr. Dennis Lim LC
Fr. Dennis Lim LC

“God truly exists! He is not a fictitious character in the book universally known as the Bible. He is real and he sent his son Jesus Christ to me and for me because he loves me. And I have a mother in Heaven who loves me as well: Mary.” I was 20 years old when my awareness of this exploded within me with force and power.

I had learned about God, about Jesus, about Heaven, and about good and evil in Sunday school. I was taught, like most children, the practical aspects of the faith at home: making the sign of the cross, praying with all the love my little heart could muster, and calling God” Father,” etc. Unfortunately, like most children, I gradually grew out of it. By the time I reached 16, God didn’t interest me. My life was already filled with activities and things to do. I had my plans and they didn’t include God. I wanted to love and it didn’t involve God. But my mother did not lose hope; she made up for my rebelliousness towards God (and just about everyone else) with love, patience, and prayer.

Called to Do... Something.
Her prayers began to bear fruit by the time I reached the age of 20. A friend invited me to a talk on what he called apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in a faraway village in Europe called Medjugorje. I don’t know why I accepted the invitation, but I did. After spending 90 restless and uncomfortable minutes listening to the talk while, at the same time, examining my life, I emerged with a newfound conviction about God. I knew there and then that my life had to change: God loved me dearly and I had to respond.

“God is calling me because he
Vocational testimony of the Fr. Dennis Lim LC
loves me” I realized this almost a year later. While studying for an undergraduate degree in the National University of Singapore, I met a group of fellow students who lived their faith daily amidst the hustle and bustle of varsity life. We made a pact to meet every Friday evening – come what may – to pray the rosary, reflect, and share our spiritual experiences. During one such meeting, it dawned upon me that God was calling me to something. The question was: what?

By then I had grown very fond of our elderly but hardy parish priest, Father Louis Fossion. He was tough yet gentle, harsh yet kind, serious yet funny. He was a man for all men, adapting himself to the needs of each parishioner. But what impressed me most was his childlike love for Christ in the Eucharist. Could God be calling me to be a priest? Becoming an assistant-sacristan and an altar-server in my parish under the tutorage of a saintly gentleman, Stanley, increased my conviction that: Yes! Perhaps God was calling me to be a priest after all.

Trust in God and He Will Act
Months of turmoil soon ensued: I was constantly weighing the pros and cons, drifting from “yes” to “no” according to my whims and fancies. Finally, I decided to find out for sure. The answer, I knew, was in the place where it all began for me: Medjugorje.

Medjugorje proved to be eventful. I did not receive any special signs or inner locutions. I did not even see the sun spin. However, I did return home with peace, coupled with the certainty that God was leading me and that Mary was with me. I had to “be still before the Lord and wait in patience … trust in him, he will act” (Psalm 36). Then, one day, a friend from Opus Dei called. Convinced that I was going around in circles in my vocational discernment, he decided to take things into his own hands: he had arranged for me to meet a priest of Opus Dei for spiritual direction and called merely to inform me the time of my appointment.

Two days later, I found myself at the Opus Dei centre in Singapore for my very first spiritual direction with Father Conor. Any initial misgiving that I may have had melted away immediately as a result of his Irish wit, humor, spiritual depth, and downright practicality. We began to work together to discover God’s will for me. “The only way to understand what Christ is asking of you,” he would say, “is to deepen your personal relationship with him.” I began to spend more time with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament after my classes, contemplating the mysteries of Christ’s life and his presence in my own life. I also began to delve into the beauty of our Catholic faith through the study circles offered by Opus Dei, and to open myself to the needs of others in the active apostolate. Two years later, during a silent retreat, I knew the answer. God has spoken in and throughout my life. Now, I had to respond.

“What am I willing to do for you, Lord - you who gave up everything for me?” I asked myself. “There is only one possible answer in the face of so much love: love. And since love is self-giving, I will give you my all, Lord.”

“My vocation is love,” exclaimed St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face in her autobiography, Story of a Soul. Almost a century later, the Catechism of the Catholic Church would state that “God who created man out of love also calls him to love – the fundamental and innate vocation of very human being” (n.1604). I was soon to join a religious congregation whose very charism is centred on love, and which aspires to inflame the world with Christ’s own love.

Finding My Place
I met the Legionaries of Christ in Rome while on a pilgrimage to San Giovanni Rotondo to visit the tomb of St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. Although I had never heard of them, I was immediately attracted by their sense of mission and their desire to do great things out of love for Christ, the Pope, the Church, Mary, and souls. Moreover, the joy that they exuded was absolutely contagious. “Is this where you are calling me to Lord?” I asked myself. Two visits to the novitiate in Cheshire, plus regular correspondence with a Legionary brother, was enough to convince me. Father Conor concurred, so preparations for my imminent departure began. It was not easy to leave all those whom I loved: my family, friends, fellow parishioners, and home. But I prayed, “Love is self-giving; I give you my all, Lord! I will now love them in you and through you.”

In May 1996, I said good-by to my family to become part of a religious congregation which has become a second family for me.
          
A Gratuitous Gift
Eleven years have passed since that fateful day. Back then, I thought I was being extremely generous to God; now I know differently.

What did I do to deserve the great grace of conversion when I was 19? What did I do to merit the infinite gift of the priesthood and the beautiful vocation of being a Legionary cofounder? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Christ is the great protagonist behind every vocation. It is his initiative, his free gift. As St. Mark tells us, “Christ calls those whom he wanted” (Mk 3,13). However, like all gifts, Christ’s gift can also be accepted or rejected. Why then, did I accept the gift when others have rejected it? I attribute it to the prayers of my dad, mom, brother, sister, niece, relatives, friends, Stanley, Sally, Father Fossion, Father Conor, the Opus Dei members, my brother Legionaries, and the many, many, people – whom I have never met and will perhaps never meet – who pray for vocations to the priesthood. Your prayers have helped me to grasp the depth of God’s love for me; moving me to return love for love.

Priestly ordination marks a point of arrival in my life. Yet, this point of arrival is also a point of departure, for I must now be ”alter Christus” (another Christ) for all those I meet. May Mary help me to be an outward expression of her Son’s love for you!

 

Father Dennis Feliciano Lim Boon Siu was born in Singapore on April 17, 1968 and attended Holy Spirit parish in his early years. Before entering the Legion, he earned both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in engineering from the National University of Singapore. He entered the Legion on September 15, 1996 and spent his novitiate and humanistic studies in Cheshire, Connecticut. He studied philosophy in the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome. He has worked in the School of the Faith in Mexico City and is currently studying his license in theology at Regina Apostolorum.

This testimony is part of the book “Ven y sígueme” (Come and Follow me). In January 2008 you can buy it at www.misionmultimedia.org. It contains 48 testimonies in Spanish, 11 in English and 1 in German.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2007-12-21


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