A new face at IHM

by Alison Snodgrass |  Edited on May 1, 2024

Deacon Dexter

Table of contents

In recent weeks, you may have spotted him on the corridor leading to the church canteen. Since he wears a white cassock, some may have thought he is a visiting priest. He is Deacon Dexter Chua, who is spending a few months at IHM as part of his journey towards ordination. IHM Heartbeat caught up with Deacon Dexter, 39, and posed a few questions with the aim of introducing him to IHM parishioners.


Q: Could you describe yourself in three words?

“The gentle bear”. That’s what my brothers in the seminary call me. I might look fierce on the outside but deep inside, I am soft and friendly.


Q: What sort of a child were you growing up?

I think I had two dreams in my childhood:

To have my own family. I always dreamt of having at least two children, a boy and a girl, but well, God has His plans and dreams for me
For a career in the aerospace industry. Not so much because I loved to travel or that I love planes but because of very practical reasons. Firstly, I am a very hands-on kind of person. I like to work with tools — fixing things, dismantling things, etc. And honestly (back then), I felt that the aerospace industry was very stable. Little did I know that God had greater plans for me to soar even higher than what this dream could offer me.

Q: When did you decide to join the seminary?

As much as I dreamt of working in the aerospace industry, this dream was never fulfilled for certain reasons. I did a Polytechnic diploma in Mechatronics and after completing my National Service, I worked for three-and-a-half years with the Public Utilities Board (PUB). It was a job which fulfilled my love for getting my hands dirty, so to speak. I really enjoyed my time there and really loved the nature of the job. But this was when I felt the invitation to discern the Priesthood. I decided to leave and joined Development Bank of Singapore (DBS).

I felt that if I really wanted to give God a chance to reveal His dreams, His plans and His desires for me, I would not be able to stay in PUB because my job required me to respond to emergency calls 24/7. However, at DBS, although I was working shifts, I had more time for myself after work to discern the call. I was with DBS for four-and-a-half years before joining the seminary.


Q: What inspired you to join the seminary?

I was never drawn to the priesthood – and I mean never! After my baptism, I remember my mum and my Godmother telling people that they were praying for me to be a priest and I always frowned at that but look where I am right now. God has the last laugh indeed.

I had a phase in my early adulthood – after I had just started working – when I began to drift away from the church. I was still an altar server in my parish of St Michael but I loved to go clubbing and drinking with my friends during the weekends. Coming to church started to become “a chore”. I remember on many occasions, I may have been physically present for Mass but in spirit, I was in bed after a whole night of clubbing and drinking. During this same period, I also started to take part in go-kart racing in Malaysia more frequently and usually I would spend the whole Sunday there. This meant I would miss Mass totally and not feel guilty at all. It was also the period when a few of us senior altar servers left the ministry to allow our juniors to take up leadership.

After about a year or so, we were asked to come back to the ministry because our juniors needed help. But before returning, we were invited to attend the Conversion Experience Retreat (CER). I had my conversion experience at this retreat but I was still not drawn to the priesthood. I felt a very strong desire and passion to be active in church again but more importantly, I was drawn to a much deeper and intimate relationship with Jesus. So I started to attend Friday growth talks at Catholic Spirituality Centre (CSC) and took part in the monthly holy hour at my parish. During one holy hour (about six months after my conversion experience) I was staring at the crucifix in the church and an ordination scene flashed before my eyes. It was the part where the deacon was lying prostrate during the Litany of the Saints. I didn’t give it much thought or consideration initially but a few days later, something prompted me to look at the seminary website. There was this page on the website where the then rector, Fr William Goh, pointed out about 10 signs to look out for if you are really called to the priesthood. I saw myself nodding my head to most, if not to almost all of them. This was when things got real for me and I started discerning for about four-and-a-half years before entering the seminary in 2016.


Q: What are your hobbies?

Most of my hobbies or interests are related to sports. I love sports, both team and individual. I used to play badminton with my father and his friends regularly. I also love motorsports, in particular anything to do with cars. By the way, I have also driven on the Pasir Gudang racing circuit. But I think my first love would have to be soccer. I have been playing soccer since I was young and I am a fan of Manchester United. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I had also grown to love cycling a lot.


Q: Are you a foodie?

Let’s just say, I do enjoy good food! I don’t exactly consider myself a foodie but I do love to try out different food stalls – I may not always go back to the same stall.


Q: What was your CCA in school?

I was in Red Cross in my secondary school days. I wanted to join the soccer team but my mum didn’t allow me to because she said the training would affect my studies especially when it is tournament season. She said by joining Red Cross, I could pick up skills in first aid, etc.


Q: What church ministries were you involved in as a youth?

I am not a cradle Catholic. I was baptised when I was 11 and after that I was in Altar Servers all the way until I joined the seminary.


Q: Please share a bit about your family and how your parents viewed your calling to the priesthood?

I am the only child in my family and there are not many children in my extended family who are Catholics. Since my mother and Godmother were already telling people that they were praying for me to be a priest, breaking the news to my mother was not difficult at all. I was scratching my head, however, as to how to break the news to my father who is not a Catholic when one day, he asked me if I was thinking about the priesthood. I was really shocked but thought that most likely, my mother would have told him since no one else knew about it other than her. Nonetheless, I did tell my father that I felt the invitation to consider the priesthood and he gave me his blessings. Many years later, after entering the seminary, I decided to ask my mother if she was the one who told my father back then but she said she didn’t. I suppose you can guess Who was at work here.


Q: Please share a few of your memorable experiences with the IHM parish community so far.

I think the parishioners here are very warm and friendly, making it easier for me to fit into the parish community. They always invite me to their gatherings, etc.


Q: What do you hope to do and achieve during your time here in IHM?

I have been assigned to look after the youth ministries and Altar Servers ministry in IHM.

During my time at IHM, my aim is to help ministry members in their faith journey towards God even if it is just providing a safe space to share and be listened to without being judged.


Related posts

Group photo of those involved in the SSVP outreach mission

Faith in Action

Reading Time: 0:51 min

On March 24, the Society of St Vincent de Paul (IHM Conference) organised an outreach mission. Along with the Vincentians, 64 Secondary 2 students and 15 catechists took part in…

View post
Deacon Dexter

A new face at IHM

Reading Time: 7:5 min

In recent weeks, you may have spotted him on the corridor leading to the church canteen. Since he wears a white cassock, some may have thought he is a visiting…

View post
Fr Luke Fong

Thank you, Father Luke

Reading Time: 3:17 min

It is with much love and a tinge of sadness that the IHM community bid goodbye to Fr Luke Fong. He had served IHM Church for nine years as assistant…

View post
Far shot of the newly baptised around the church altar

Thirty baptised in IHM during Easter Vigil mass

Reading Time: 5:10 min

Five others were received into the Catholic Church Days before the big night, Teresa Chee, Gerald Toh, Damien Chow, Cindy Bong and Joseph Wong shared with IHM Heartbeat their RCIA…

View post
hb 2023 12 wlcd main

Over 1,000 attend IHM’s Christmas Fiesta

Reading Time: 4:50 min

“Have you ever received a message or encountered an event that left you feeling shocked, worried, confused or even angry? What if such a message or event could actually bring…

View post
The charismatic group members in praise and worship

Charismatic Prayer Group returns

Reading Time: 1:55 min

The IHM Catholic Charismatic Prayer Group (CCPG) resumed its activities with a mass on September 21. The mass was celebrated by parish priest Fr Paul Ngo and it was followed…

View post

First Parish Mission Retreat draws 54 retreatants

Reading Time: 1:45 min

The Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) held its first Parish Mission Retreat from September 22 to 24 to focus on how “I, as a disciple of Jesus,…

View post

IHM charity golf raises $175,000 for Catholic Hub

Reading Time: 2:41 min

Warren Golf and Country Club The Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) 70th Anniversary Charity Golf tournament teed off on September 8, 2023 at the Warren Golf and…

View post

Bow-wow, take a bow

Reading Time: 2:34 min

Pets blessing event an overwhelming success The Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary had never seen anything like this before. Over 200 pets, brought by their owners, gathered in…

View post