Last of three children, Fr Martinian grew up in a Catholic family that was his "first seminary". At the age of 12, he wanted to become a priest. As an adult, he wanted a family, a career and a "good life". The turning point came during a meeting with Mgr Paul Tan Chee Ing.
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Herald Malaysia) – The Malaysian Church celebrated the ordination of three new priests: Fr Martinian Lee Hock Chuan (37), Fr Paul Sia Chau Kiang (62), and Fr Alexuchelvam Mariasoosai (42). Here is the first of the three stories. (Text by Lavinia Louis.)
Fr Martinian Lee Hock Chuan was ordained with Fr Paul Sia Chau Kiang and Fr Alexuchelvam Mariasoosai on 6 November, at St Theresa Church in Malacca (Melaka), southern Malay Peninsula. For him, giving up married life was a gift to God and not a sacrifice, as it was the best gift anyone could give to the person you love the most.
Officiated by the local bishop, Mgr Anthony Bernard Paul, the ceremony (see pictures and video) saw the participation of the whole community. The faithful packed the church, to the point that many of them had to follow the service on screens outside the building or in the parish hall.
Last of three children, Fr Martinian grew up in a Catholic family, which he defines his "first seminary". Although very active in the life of St Theresa parish, he did not, as a boy, have a "personal relationship" with Jesus. Eventually, he slowly got to know him through relationships he built in the community.
"I always thought that the more I worked in church, the more I’d be Catholic. But as I grew up, I realised that I knew very little about my faith. My relationship with Jesus had to go beyond doing things. I needed to befriend the Bible. I needed a life of prayer," he said.
At the age of 12, Fr Martinian wrote a paper in which he declared his desire to become a priest. As an adult, his aspiration was having a family, a career and enjoy a "good life".
"However, I felt that something was not right. A deep feeling tried to tell me that marriage was not for me. Naturally, I denied it, but God was very kind in his approach and never abandoned me."
"My life was not giving glory to God because I was not living out God’s will. I was missing true joy and freedom.”
“After many years, I realised that God would not leave me alone. I was tired of running away from him and so I decided to say yes to God. Immediately, I felt a sense of peace and calm in my heart. I had a sense of joy and freedom that I had never experienced before. Fear suddenly did not have a grip on me anymore. I felt I could fly. That’s when I knew that God was truly calling me to the priesthood," Fr Martinian said.
The turning point came during a meeting with Mgr Paul Tan Chee Ing, bishop emeritus of Melaka-Johor, who asked Lee to give up his life and serve God as a priest.
"I replied that I was not 'holy' enough and that made me unworthy to be a priest. I told him I had a girlfriend, I wanted to get married and I would like to have children of my own."
" That’s great!” said the bishop. “That means that you understand what love is and we want priests to understand the meaning of love. You must take a leap of faith. This means that in front of you there is a deep and dark hole and you have to jump in that hole trusting that God will catch you safely in his arms."
"That conversation moved me to tears. I knew then that this was God’s will," Fr Martinian said.