LUMEN Issue 2 - December 2011 | Page 22

A Josephian

A Josephian

Dominican Friar

Fr Lawrence Lew , O . P ., ( SJI Graduating Class of 1993 ), was known in SJI by his baptismal name , Paul . Lawrence is his religious name , adopted when he was clothed in the Dominican habit , and taken after St Lawrence Ruiz , patron of the parish where he worked in the Philippines .

He shares his journey of responding to the call to serve .

The Lasallian signum fidei , the star as the sign of faith , was a familiar symbol during my student days in SJI . This same star is also one of the symbols of the Dominican Order .
This image of the star of faith is apt because it is my own search for the light of truth and my God-directed journey of faith which has taken me from my Lasallian roots in SJI to becoming a priest and friar in the 800-year-old Order of Preachers ( Dominicans ).
God ' s providence is shown in the way he works with the poor materials we give him , and even in situations which we may not like or want . But God begins with who we are , and from the paucity we offer him he is always working his purposes out to bring about our flourishing . Against my wishes , I entered SJI at Secondary 2 when my parents moved to Singapore . I was surprised to be placed in a boys ' school and even more astounded to be sent to a Catholic school since I came from a staunch Protestant family and
I had imbibed mildly anti-Catholic leanings !
Over my three years in SJI , I was won over by the gentleness of the La Salle brothers , and the obvious love and concern they and the teachers had for us boys . I felt that the school expressed its Catholic ethos in a confident and joyful manner , without self-consciousness or pressure .
In this relaxed way , was able to be more open to discovering what the Catholic faith has to offer . Why ? Because I was convinced about the truth of what the Church taught , and that the Catholic Church is the living community of disciples founded by Christ and entrusted to the apostles . And the evidence of this was in the authenticity of the brothers ' lives , the faith of my Catholic friends and teachers , as well as their integrity of life .
I was baptised on Christmas day in 1993 , the year I left SJI , but my faith and my priestly vocation was rooted in the school . Thus began the greatest adventure of my life , leading me to where I am today as a Catholic priest in the U . K .
I had said to Br Michael Broughton that I felt called to be a La Salle brother , but he told me he thought I might be called to be a priest . This piece of advice rang in my heart over five years later in my final year as a law student in Leeds University , England .
The path to priesthood has been long . I began training for ordained ministry in 2000 in a diocesan seminary in Durham , England , but took time off to discern if I was called to religious life instead . I spent two years from 2003 to 2005 in the slums of Manila , the Philippines , working with the poor and learning from them how to love , how to be content in God , and how to rejoice even in destitution .
The parish where I worked in Manila was run by Dominican friars . I had already felt the attraction of the Dominican vocation with its emphasis on study , contemplation of truth , and preaching . So in 2005 I returned to England and was accepted as a friar of the Province of England of the Dominican Order . My formation as a Dominican took me to Cambridge and then to Oxford where we run Blackfriars Hall where we are trained for priesthood , studying philosophy and theology in the unique Oxbridge style .
Oxford tutorials consist of weekly one-hour one-to-one meetings with a tutor where the student presents his essay for discussion with his professor . It requires intellectual rigour and motivation , wide-reading , independent thought , and integrity , and I believe that SJI prepared me for this .
After my priestly ordination in Oxford on 17 September 2011 , I was assigned to our priory in Edinburgh , Scotland where three of us Dominicans serve as chaplains to three of the universities of Edinburgh .
Priesthood is about being a man for others , and each day as I strive to live up to this beautiful calling . I am reminded of my Josephian roots , planted thousands of miles away in Singapore , and of my beloved alma mater who first inspired me to be a man for others .
This page : Speaking with students outside St Albert ' s Catholic Chaplaincy in Edinburgh Facing Page : Ordination on 17 September 2011 in Blackfriars , Oxford