SINGAPORE – For John Seah who is in his 50s, working in a company full of Protestants eager to question him on his faith, apologetics – the art of explaining his Catholic faith – is an almost daily affair.
As such, he was very glad that the two-day intensive camp organised by the Apostolate for Catholic Truth (ACT), a lay organisation comprising lay people who are eager to explain and defend Catholic teaching, was both “well presented and well researched”.
Held at CHOICE Retreat House over the weekend of Dec 13-14, the camp titled “Roman Catholicism 101” drew about 50 participants, many of whom were young adults.
It covered seven topics including “No Salvation Outside the Church: Christianity and other religions”, “Suffering and the Prosperity Gospel”, “Right and Wrong: Principles of Ethics”, “Does Belief in God demean us”, “Our Separated Brethren: Sola Scriptura and other issues”, “The Mass Boring and irrelevant” and “A Catholic Sexual Liberation”.
“These topics were chosen,” shared Dismas Chew, who is Chairman of ACT, “because we felt that these were common controversies faced by Catholics today as they strive to explain their faith in a reasonable manner to an often unbelieving and skeptical world”.
“All our talks draw on the magisterial teaching of the Church which we believe both touches the deepest aspirations of the human heart as well as passes the test of reason,” Mr Chew added.
Indeed, both reason and faith were seamlessly woven into all presentations. Kelvin Chia, a lawyer in private practice, put his legal skills into good use as he presented in a systematic fashion, citing evidence from both the early Church fathers as well as various ecumenical councils, the Church?s position on the salvation of non-Christians.
Vincent Wong, a tutor at the National University of Singapore, shared his conversion story from atheism to Catholicism. It was a tale that camp participants found moving. “I remembered when I was an atheist that when Christians offered to share with me their faith, I would tell them I worshipped Satan. Yet they responded only in kindness to my pretty offensive remarks.”
Mr Wong, now a parishioner in Church of the Holy Cross, shared that it was both the intellectual traditions of the Catholic Church as well as the personal kindness of Catholics he met and their dedication to serving the outcast of society which sparked his conversion. -By Nick Chui