Singapore’s population is aging, and households are having fewer children too. We are facing an unprecedented decline in vocations to the priestly and religious vocations. Following the results from a Catholic News 2008 survey, which then recorded the average age of priests in Singapore as 55 years old, the statistical results from the recent Catholic Conversation (, 2021) show that at least 40% of our priests are 60 years old and above.  While vocations are still ongoing, these vocations are trickling in and not filling in an ever widening gap and lack.

This is not a phenomenon that is limited to the context of Singapore. Worldwide, monasteries and seminaries are being shuttered and closed (Girgis, 2023; Molina, 2023; Neuman, 2023). In the diocese of Columbus in Ohio for example, 15 Catholic churches will be closed this year as part of a plan to reorganize and merge the parishes together (Jones, 2023).

The readings for this week, are a reminder that there is a lot of work to be done in the fields of God, yet, there is a lack of men and women who are stepping up to the Call as Jesus gently reminds us, “The harvest is rich but the labourers are few, so ask the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.” (Matthew 9:37-38).

The First Reading, tells us of our inherent call to holiness – We are “a kingdom of priests, a consecrated nation” (Exodus 9:6).

The Responsorial Psalm, reminds us that God is sovereign in our lives and it is to Him we accord glory, praise, and honour to.

The Second Reading, tells us of the immensity of God’s love for us and shows us how we are to live out our vocation – to be reconciled to Christ and to be faithful unto death – “For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5: 6-8)

In the Gospel, as the motley crew of disciples tells us, God also calls us individually to a unique mission that only we can carry out. This call is in spite of our weaknesses and our personalities. The disciples would be unimaginable as disciples – Peter and Andrew – hotheaded and impetuous, Simon the Zealot, overzealous for the wrong reasons, Matthew, a tax-collector – considered scum in Jewish society, James – who wanted glory, John – definitely too young, Philip, a little obtuse about the ways of Jesus as evidenced from his encounter at the feeding of 5,000, Bartholomew, who was blunt with his words and had no filter – “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”, Thomas, who struggled with doubt, little is said of James the Lesser and Thaddeus, and Judas the Iscariot, a thief who unfortunately was to betray Jesus in the end… Yet Jesus still called them. This is evidence, that God qualifies the called.

By the Grace of God,

Brian Bartholomew Tan




Catholic News. (2008, November 8). Statistics of Priests in Singapore 2008. Catholic News. Retrieved June 16, 2023 from (2021). The Catholic Conversation. Retrieved June 16, 2023 from

Girgis, S. (2023, April, 17). St. Benedict’s Monastery in Old Snowmass signals it will close; process to begin this summer. The Aspen Times. Retrieved June 16, 2023 from

Jones, K. J. (2023, May 26). Columbus Diocese to close 15 churches; bishop calls for stronger Catholic engagement. Catholic News Agency. Retrieved June 16, 2023 from

Molina, A. (2023, March 10). Nuns, friars partner to explore future for iconic shuttered Hollywood monastery. Religion News. Retrieved June 16, 2023 from

Neuman, S. (2023, May 17). The Faithful see both crisis and opportunity as churches close across the country. NPR. Retrieved June 16, 2023 from