“It’s really good. I like the fact that they don’t push us to come back. They respect our feelings and we have time to think before making a choice.”
Mr Richard Pillai, 52, made these comments after attending an event held by Landings, an organisation that aims to reach out to Catholics who have been away from church.
About 50 participants attended the Landings-Returned! session held at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour on Aug 16.
Parish priest Fr Gregoire van Giang, in his opening address, encouraged participants in their journey, and urged them to picture God as “an old father, waiting at the gate for his son to come back”.
Several Landings volunteers then shared their stories of how they returned to church after an absence.
Mr Marcus Wong shared that it was a painful experience that made him drift away from church – the ending of his eight-year relationship with his girlfriend.
“I could not see any light in the darkness,” he said. However, since finding out about Landings in 2013, he has come back to church. Now he is a Landings volunteer, helping fellow Catholics who have been away from church return to it.
Another sharer, Mr David Chong, drew sniffles from the crowd with his story.
He recalled that his “faith journey came out of selfish reasons”.
When his father fell ill in 2004, he “struck a bargain with God”.
“If God healed my dad, then I would convert and become a Catholic,” he said. Soon after, his father’s condition stabilised and Mr Chong was baptised in 2005.
However, he later faced crises which tested his faith. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer and lost his job twice.
However, with encouragement from family and Landings members, he realised that “God was giving me an anchor in my faith…There’s no need to bargain but to trust and obey God.”
Ms Constance Nonis, a cradle Catholic who returned to church after almost 30 years, said it was her father-in-law’s death in November 2013 that made her ask herself, “How much of a Catholic am I to deserve a Catholic funeral?”
She shared that after visiting her parents’ niche, and buying a rosary at the Church of the Holy Trinity bookshop, she picked up a bulletin and saw an announcement by Landings.
That was what started her journey back to church in Jan 2014.
Landings was established in 2007.
By Lorna O’Hara