VOCATION SUNDAY SPECIAL REPORT: Deacon Jason Yeap: I look forward to being able to celebrate the sacraments of Eucharist and Reconciliation

18 Apr 2024

By Contributor

By Joseph Younes

The Ordination to the Priesthood of Deacon Errol Lobo and Deacon Jason Yeap will take place at 7:00PM on 19 April 2024 at St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth.

Deacon Jason spoke to The Record about his upcoming ordination, he reflected on his devotion to St Charles Borromeo, the role World Youth Day Sydney played in his discernment journey and how the idea of becoming a priest seemed so contrary.

Deacon Jason Yeap Ordination
Deacon Jason Yeap makes his promises of obedience to Archbishop Costelloe during his Ordination to the Diaconate, 17 February 2023 at Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament Church, Gosnells. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

The Record: Why did you decide to become a priest? What called you to the priesthood? 

Deacon Jason Yeap: I decided to become a priest because I felt that God was calling me to serve Him and His Church in this manner. It wasn’t so much something I knew I wanted from the start but it was something I began to want to explore more and more.

It started with an older parishioner simply asking me whether I had ever thought about becoming a priest. I politely shot the idea down but over time that question lingered and only grew louder. The idea seemed so invasive, so contrary to the life I wanted to live – funny because I was trying my best to be a good Catholic!

However, one day it occurred to me that if I really trusted God, like really, then why all the fuss and fear about this question? Why not give it a go? I had a lot of letting go to do for sure, but that was the beginning of the journey. 

The Record: What role does God the Father play in your life?

JY: For me, the first image of God the Father which comes to mind is the father mentioned in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. There are times I have felt more like the younger son – filled with regret and aware of my frailty, and at other times, like the older son – filled with self-righteous scorn and impatience.

Yet, God, as portrayed in this parable, is both merciful and reasonable. That truth has always been something I have clung to and it’s an example I try to follow. 

The Record: What role does Mother Mary play in your life?

JY: Mother Mary has been an important figure in my life since childhood. Like many young Catholics, I learnt to pray the rosary as a child from my parents and remember many a prayer group I was dragged to.

Over the years I came to realise that she is both an active player in the Church today, as are all the saints, and she is the model disciple. Her example of humility, surrender to the will of God and faithfulness continue to inspire me.  

The Record: How do you feel?

JY: It feels a little surreal to be at this point. It’s the conclusion of a long chapter of my life and the beginning of a new one.

I feel very grateful to all those who have helped me and supported me along the way, and all who will continue to be part of my journey going forward.

I am content and am keenly looking forward to whatever comes next.  

Deacon Jason Yeap proclaims a prayer during the Mass for the first anniversary of St John Paul II Church, Banksia Grove. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

The Record: Are there any saints you have a devotion to?

JY: A few saints have been a significant part of my journey, particularly through their writings but in terms of devotion, probably St Charles Borromeo and St Mary of the Cross MacKillop. I first heard about St Mary MacKillop at World Youth Day Sydney, in 2008, and when praying at her tomb in North Sydney I entrusted my journey of discernment to her care.

I was able to visit again before my diaconate ordination, and that was a source of great consolation and reassurance. St Charles is the patron saint of my seminary, and our motto is based on his: “humilitas”, so learning about his life, and seeking his intercession was important to me.

The Record: What do your family think of your ordination to the priesthood?

JY: They’re very excited about it. My parents and siblings have always been very supportive, as have my extended relatives, and this has been a real blessing.   

The Record: Can you describe seminary life?

JY: Seminary life was very enriching and eye-opening for me. The studies exposed me to thoughts and ideas I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise and helped me develop a more nuanced understanding of God, the world and people in general.

There is a lot of structure and formality too, but there is also a lot of camaraderie and humour.

Prayer is central to our formation, and so there’s a lot of time to pray, and the testing situations we find ourselves in seminary at times mean there can be plenty to pray about!

There’s no doubt that seminary is testing in many ways but ultimately, it’s a place of growth. And when it is, it can be a very enriching time as I’ve found it.  

The Record: Has there been a highlight of seminary life?

JY: It’s hard to narrow it down but it’s probably the camaraderie I experienced with many of those I was in seminary with. Seminary would be a completely different experience without it.    

Deacon Jason Yeap assists Archbishop Costelloe during the Annual Mass for Clergy, 29 November 2023. Photo: Johannes Alexander.

The Record: Pope Francis has urged priests to reach out to the poor and those on the margins of our society and church community. How do you envisage doing this in your priestly ministry?

JY: I hope to become more aware of the needs in the local area by being accessible and available, and sincere with what I can offer. Primarily it will be pastoral care and the Sacraments, but I’d also like to be able to provide any practical assistance in terms of referrals to social or other services to address any practical needs. 

The Record: Are there any aspects of priestly life that you are looking forward to?

JY: I am looking forward to being able to offer the Sacraments – especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation and being able to walk more closely with people in their journey of faith.  

The Record: How has your parish placement been? What has been a highlight of your time?

JY: My parish placement has taught me a lot about myself and others, as well as given me some valuable insight into the needs of a parish and its parishioners. I still have lots to learn but my highlight at Banksia Grove has been getting to know the people here and learning from their experiences.  

The Record: How important will the day of your ordination to the priesthood be for you, your family and friends?

JY: It will be a really significant day for all of us. For me, what will most be significant is that what will be entrusted to me is not just a ministry but also in a sense, the broader family of the Church. People place a lot of trust in their priests, and I want to be worthy of that.

For my parents, it will be the culmination of a lot of prayer, sacrifice, and faith. And for my friends as well as parishioners, it will be a great joy.  

Then seminarian Jason Yeap studies in the library. Photo: Archdiocese of Perth.

The Record: Have you received any great advice on your vocational journey?

JY: One great piece of advice that gave me a lot of encouragement was from one of Archbishop Timothy Costelloe’s homilies sometime before I joined seminary: “God isn’t calling you to be something that you’re not. He’s calling you to be more completely who you already are.”

Hearing it at a time when I was grappling with the idea of priesthood really persuaded me to reconsider whether the priesthood was all that contrary to what I sought in life, and it gave me the confidence to trust in God’s faithfulness and goodness.  

The Record: What message do you have to other young men discerning a vocation to the priesthood?

JY: For someone discerning the vocation to priesthood I’d say do it whole-heartedly as best you can, and generously. Discerning includes letting go of many things and allowing God to lead you, and that’s going to require a leap of faith but God is faithful. Go all in.  

The Record: Who would you like to thank for helping you get to this point? 

JY: I’d like to thank my parents, Anne and Thomas, for modelling as best they can what it means to trust in God and follow him. My siblings and friends for their support, and for just being there. And the many men and women who have had a role in guiding and teaching me, and those who have supported in other ways throughout my seminary years, and more recently while on parish placement.   

The Record: Any other final thoughts?

JY: Thank you for your prayers, as well as those for all the men currently discerning the priesthood at our seminaries. We are grateful and we need them! 

Deacon Errol Lobo and Deacon Jason Yeap will be Ordained to the Priesthood on 19 April 2024.To find out more about a vocation to the priesthood in the Archdiocese of Perth, visit https://stcharlesseminary.perthcatholic.org.au/