SINGAPORE (UCAN) -- A newly ordained priest for Singapore archdiocese credits the Neocatechumenal Way, a Catholic lay movement, for fostering his vocation to the priesthood.
David Thexeira, 42, ordained July 15 by Archbishop Gregory Yong, said he would never have become a priest if he had not joined the lay community.
The former Singapore Airline employee joined the Neocatechumenate community 19 years ago. He said he "struggled" for some three years before accepting the call to the priesthood, a call that he said gradually became clearer.
He recalled the day when someone at a Neocatechumenal gathering asked if anyone wanted to become a priest and he stood up. He said he has been happy since and that becoming a priest was the best decision he ever made.
Father Thexeira studied philosophy at the Redemptoris Mater Diocesan Missionary Seminary of Newark, the United States, and obtained a degree in theology in Perth, Australia. He said there are 40 Neocatechumenate-inspired Redemptoris Mater seminaries in dioceses around the world.
He was ordained a deacon last year in western Australia, where he will serve for two more years as a priest before returning to Singapore.
Father Thexeira said that offering his life to God as a priest does not seem a great sacrifice, because he has received much more than he ever wanted in life, even traveling more as a seminarian than as an airline employee.
He is the third Singapore national from the Neocatechumenate community in the city-state to be ordained a priest here. The movement in Singapore started in 1977 at St. Bernadette Parish.
The Neocatechumenal Way was founded in 1964 in Spain by Kiko Arguello. It has received favorable recognition from Pope John Paul II and is seeking juridical status as an international association of lay faithful.
It describes itself as "a group of people who wish to rediscover and to live Christian life to the full" through a formation program "like that of the early Church but adapted to their condition as baptized persons."
Full formation in the movement, which claims some 14,000 communities in 900 dioceses worldwide, takes some 20 years.