The Father calls me His beloved

Ervin TanFeature

The Father calls me His beloved

“You are my beloved son, with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). Andrew Lin, a seventh year seminarian, tells us how the Church, through the Office for Young People, was crucial in restoring his relationship with God the Father and awakening him to the call of the priesthood.

I am a cradle Catholic and as a child, I grew up very interested in the faith. My parents cultivated a habit of daily prayer at home and bought us comics about Bible stories. I largely spent my youth and young adult years in church, where I joined the choir, catechists, and youth community.

However, during this time, while I knew a lot about God, it was mere intellectual knowledge. I did not have a personal relationship with Him and felt empty as a result. I could not relate to God as my loving Father, as my own relationship with my parents was distant. They loved me through their actions and care, but I grew distant because I craved their affirmation and loving touch, yet did not feel it.

Turning Point

My turning point came during a seven-week retreat called “School of Witness” (SOW) organised by the Office for Young People. There was a session about the parable of the Prodigal Son, which I have heard many times before. Yet, for the first time, I related strongly with the older son who felt that though he had always been in his father’s house, he had never really known his father or felt like his son.

During the session, the facilitators portrayed a father and mother figure who would pray for us. It was then that God showed me how real He was, because He knew what I needed to hear without me telling the facilitators what I was feeling. The words He told me were: “I love you”, and “I’m proud of you”. My immediate reaction was to reject them, and
I literally screamed out, “No, you don’t!” in disbelief. I realised that I had hardened my heart and buried my hurts, believing that I didn’t need to hear those words. But God showed me the brokenness that was deep inside that He wanted to heal.

New Life

Through this encounter, I doubted no longer: God became real. I had a new and deep experience of God’s love for me. He said, “You are my beloved son, with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). No matter what, I am His son and He loves me. With this new conviction, I felt free to be myself. I did not need to carry the burden and struggle of my perceived lack of parental love anymore.

This was the beginning of a new life in Christ for me. There was much healing between my parents and me, and I began to love them more freely. I  began to desire to attend daily Mass, and to change the way I approached relationships. I promised God that I would remain single for a period of time, without actively looking to enter into a relationship, because I wanted to be in a right relationship with Him first, to receive His love so as to know how to love others.

Awakening to the Call

Through this overwhelming experience, I began to hear His little voice speaking in me. The priesthood, which I never seriously considered as I wanted to get married, began to be a real possibility. God led me to truly discern and choose between marriage and the priesthood. He showed me that He wanted me to give my life fully for others, not just in an exclusive relationship with one person.

Through that discernment, I learnt that the only way to truly say “no” to anything is to be convinced of a deeper “yes” to be fully aware of my choice and what it entails. Thus I made the decision to apply to the seminary, and God granted me the consolation of peace as I emailed my application to the rector.

On hindsight, in God’s great providence, He had already been preparing me for this path. As I was still working as a youth coordinator at the Church of the Holy Family at that time, the parish priest understood the importance of spiritual growth, and allowed me to take time off to attend SOW. God had paved a way for me to enter deeper into a relationship with Him as His beloved son.

In that role, I had discovered a renewed desire and compassion within my heart to reach out to and journey with young people. I witnessed their longing for an encounter with God their Father, and began to share with them His great love for them. I also found myself being very comfortable with people of all ages in church and desiring to bring Jesus to them.

My seminary journey has had its share of struggles, but I continue to see His hand upon my life as the encounter that started with SOW continues. I look forward to the rest of my journey in faith and trust. I know that God will be with me as He is with you and calls you to Him in your own way too. God bless you!

Based on Seminarian Andrew Lin’s vocation story published on

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