03/17/2015, 00.00
MALAYSIA
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For new Malaysian priest, WYD in Cologne was the turning point in his vocation

On Thursday, Deacon Joachim Robert, along with Simon Anand, will be ordained. He developed his faith in his family, reciting the Rosary and the reading Bible his parents and siblings. His vocation came late, after getting a degree in engineering and pursuing a career. For him, the Good Shepherd is his "model" of priest.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) - Joachim Robert saw his desire to devote his life to the Lord and join the priesthood come to a climax at "World Youth Day 2005 in Germany," which, in his own words, had "a strong impact "on his future decision.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XIV's "homily on the three wise men from Matthew 2:1-12 had a profound effect on me. I felt as though God was telling me to travel like the three wise men and search for Jesus," Deacon and future priest Joachim told Malaysia's Catholic weekly, The Herald, in an interview.

He and fellow Deacon Simon Anand, from the parish of Christ the King, Sungai Petani, will be ordained priests this Thursday at 7.00 pm at the Church of St Anne, in Bukit Mertajam.

Joachim is the second of eight children. Born into a deeply Catholic family, he has been active in the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish Church, in Butterworth since his youth, and over the years has developed a desire to join the priesthood.

After graduating in engineering, he worked for 12 years before entering the seminary.

"My parents played a very big role in my faith life," he said. "I remember the times when the whole family would gather to pray the rosary after dinner and occasionally, my parents would share stories from the Bible as we sat around them."

In a country of more than 28 million people, Christians are the third largest religious group with more than 2.6 million members, after majority Muslims (60 per cent) and Buddhists.

They play an important role in the nation's life; however, in recent years, they have been the object of attacks and violence in relation to the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims.

Speaking about his earlier life, the future priest said, "I had a very exciting career; I was also travelling quite a bit. But in spite of these, there was a missing puzzle at the depth of my soul."

"When I had the privilege to volunteer for the World Youth Day (WYD) 2005 in Germany," he underwent an experience that "was the spark for me to respond to God."

His journey of faith was however nurtured from a young age, in his family and the parish. "I still remember how excited I was to receive my First Holy Communion so that I could be an altar server in the church. Serving as an altar server was my very first involvement in the church," said the future priest who has a personal Facebook page.

In the parish, he was able to interact with priests, deacons, and men women religious. "Gradually, I grew in appreciation of the Eucharist and prayer, and developed a desire to be at the altar to celebrate the Eucharist one day."

Through their actions and witness, his parents, brothers, seminarians and priests, and many others contributed to his personal journey of faith.

"I am grateful to God that He placed the right people in my path," Joachim Robert said, and that "these people led me and drew me closer to Him," even in moments of difficulty and crisis.

For him, the image of the Good Shepherd shows how a priest must take care of his flock and rescue those who get lost. "It is good reminder that gives me a vision of what a priest is called to do."

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Benedict XVI: Eucharist, vocation, mission are the tracks of the WYD
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En route to Cologne, Cambodian youths pray for Italians: "They have forgotten their faith".
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