THOSE simple, down-to-earth stories of missionaries which he read when he was an altar boy had such an impact on him that he thought of becoming one.
Anthony Lim, who was ordained a Scheut Missions priest at the Church of the Holy Cross on 16 May 1999 , says he was fascinated by a story about missionaries in a CICM magazine.
"I said to myself, this is very interesting. These priests don't have to sit in the office. They can go to the mountains, to the village, to the schools....
If ever I become a priest,
these are the people I would join."
CICM, better known as the Scheut Missions, stands for Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Congregatio Immaculati Cordis Mariae in Latin). The name Scheut originated from the name of a suburb of Brussels in Belgium. The 35-year-old missionary said he came upon the CICM magazine in the parish house of the Church of Ss. Peter and Paul (in Singapore) years ago.
The now retired Father Balthazar Chang, cicm, who was then with the seamen's mission apostolate would station himself there and would always leave a copy of the magazine in the parish house. "I was then 16, studying at St Joseph's Institution. I would serve Mass as an altar boy either before or after school, after which I would spend a little time reading the magazine ."
He told his mother about his intentions of becoming a missionary and each time, she gave him a different response. "Just after my national service before I started working, I told her again of my intention to be a missionary. This time she was more encouraging and said if that was what I wanted, to go for it ."
He worked for a few years and eventually went to see Father Frans De Ridder, cicm, at the CICM House in Singapore. He was accepted and in 1989 entered the major seminary. In total, he spent 10 years preparing himself for the priesthood - two in Singapore, five in the Philippines and three in Zambia, Africa.
"There was a period during my novitiate in the Philippines when I had second thoughts," he said, explaining that he found the Philippines very different from Singapore. "That was one of the things I had to face as a missionary, to leave behind familiar things-the food and friends ."
At one stage he said he felt tired and helpless living in an unfamiliar environment and among unfamiliar people. "Fortunately, I became sick, which gave me time to think and pray... Somehow I saw God's guiding hand, during those years ."
The most memorable event for him was when he took his perpetual vows in Zambia in 1997.
The whole church of about 400 people came out to welcome me," he recollected. "All of a sudden, I felt welcome and that I had been accepted."
Now, he says he feels "a sense of bonding with others and a sense of peace being a missionary." On July 6, 1999, he returned to Zambia where he will continue his missionary work for three years.
Fr Anthony is, the third in a family of five boys.