FOR some people, experiencing severe loss can lead to gaining the most important thing in life — a relationship with God.
Iosefo Lui, 36, is one such person.
His dream to become a priest began as early as Class Seven as he watched the solemnity with which priests handled mass at his parish in Solevu, Bua, in admiration.
Fate had other plans for this Kilaka native from Kubulau.
After a successful academic career, he took up employment at the Fiji Sugar Corporation mill in Ba as an engineer.
"The dream of being a priest faded away as I started to earn money. The exciting life of being a young man kept me busy, turning my thoughts away from the aspiration to become a priest," Mr Lui recalled.
"I came to a point where I had a relationship with a girl and thought of settling down but this did not materialise. I felt something was missing during this acquaintance."
"I did some soul searching and realised that the passion to enter into the priesthood was my true calling. However, I chose to push these thoughts aside because this vocation comes with a lot of sacrifice," he said.
Mr Lui said in 2008, he put his foot down and told himself that he was going to march back to the seminarian and pursue priesthood training.
"Everything had gone the wrong way and my life was almost out of its course, and everything that I did was pointless," Mr Lui said.
"Fifteen years after my revelation in Class Seven, I finally made my way into the seminarian and did what I should have done a long time ago."
"In 2009 I entered into the training progam at the Pacific Theological Seminarian in Suva and I have never regretted making the decision as it has created a sense of direction and purpose in my life," he said.
Mr Lui said he was enjoying the spiritual retreat in Nakayaga as it connected him closer to God.
He said being with other students was a source of strength for him when sharing about his challenges and strengthening his spiritual self.
"We have been with other seminarians from around the country and it has been very interesting walking with people who are different from you and who hold different views about life," Mr Lui said.
"My parents are still alive and I am the third eldest in a family of eight. I'm proud of the achievements that I have made. I am satisfied with my life," he said.
Mr Lui said his family were amazed with his changed personality.
"When I look back at my life, it's almost like the parable of the prodigal son. I really found the purpose of my life when I came back to the priesthood," he said.
"I give back to God the glory that he deserves. His calling is timely as it came during a time in my life when I was falling apart," he said.
Mr Lui added that his faith in God is sweeter and the trials that he went through in life have made him a stronger and better person.