Welcoming elderly parishioners to the church grounds to participate in spiritual, physical and mental activities.
This initiative, known as the Golden Circle, is one of the unique characteristics of the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (OLPS).
Others include a cafe operated by the youth community, a dynamic Filipino community and a monthly devotion to St Padre Pio.
The aim of the Golden Circle is to encourage the elderly of the parish – those 55 years and older – to be active.
Some of the activities organised include mahjong, qigong and line dancing. Faith formation is conducted through Bible sharings and talks held by the priests of the parish. Special talks on health, crime prevention and road safety have also been given by invited speakers.
According to Ms Wendy Sequeira, coordinator of the Golden Circle, there are “about 40-50 [elderly parishioners] who come for the activities”.
These take place every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the church from 9am-3pm. Lunch, sponsored by the parish, is also provided for the elderly parishioners.
“I think the Golden Circle is good for many of our elderly, inviting and encouraging them to come to church and be with one another,” Fr Charlie Oasan, a priest of the parish, told CatholicNews.
It was launched in April 2009 by former parish priest Fr Gregoire van Giang and currently has about 200 registered members.
Some members of the Golden Circle have also formed a ukulele group and they performed during the OLPS funfair held on July 16 and 17.
It was organised to raise money for the building fund of the Church of the Transfiguration.
Looking ahead, Ms Sequeira hopes to introduce more activities such as rosary-making, guitar lessons and also one-day excursions to Batam or Malacca.
The youth community in OLPS call themselves Faith Sycas (pronounced “seekers”) and serve the parish youths in a variety of ways.
Organising events such as confirmation camps for teens and annual youth Masses are just some examples of their outreach.
A youth rally is scheduled to take place on Aug 13 in the OLPS canteen and is open to all youths in the archdiocese.
Another feature of the OLPS youth community is their youth cafe, known as The Nest, which they run. It operates concurrently with the church canteen on weekends.
Some of the food offered by the cafe, which is now under renovation, include waffles, pizzas, hashbrowns and croissant sandwiches.
“We try to model our food around the theme of sharing, where our dishes can be easily split among groups of people,” said Zachary Pestana, one of the leaders of Faith Sycas.
There are currently about 100 youths involved in this community.
“We strive to make the Filipino community in OLPS one with the whole church, with the whole community,” said Mr John Aurellado, chairman of the OLPS Filipino community.
“Vibrant” and “active” is how Mr Aurellado described the community, made up of nine different groups.
These include the Filipino Legion of Mary, Christ for Family and Life, Santo Nino de Cebu and the El Shaddai group.
The Christ for Family and Life community focuses on empowering families and married couples through the Holy Spirit. Some of their events include a marriage enrichment retreat and monthly prayer assemblies.
The Santo Nino de Cebu group aims to promote their devotion to Santo Nino, a reference to a statue of the Child Jesus venerated as miraculous by many Filipino Catholics. It is the oldest Christian image in the Philippines.
Besides the various groups, there is also the St Lorenzo Ruiz Room in OLPS that provides Filipinos with computers to contact their loved ones back home.
The room is open from 9am-2pm every Sunday.
A Tagalog Mass is held in the church on the fourth Saturday of every month.
St Padre Pio devotion
A devotion to St Padre Pio takes place on the 23rd of every month, in honour of the saint’s feast day which falls on Sept 23.
About 30 parishioners attend the monthly devotion which begins at 6.45pm.
St Padre Pio was a Capuchin friar who had the stigmata. He was blessed with many spiritual gifts including the gift of healing, bilocation, prophecy and miracles.
He was beatified in 1999 and canonised in 2002 by Pope John Paul II.
According to Fr Charlie, about “7,000 parishioners attend Mass every weekend”. The migrant community makes up about 20 percent of total Mass attendance.
Fr Charlie also said that parishioners are made up of a balanced number of children, teens, adults and elderly.
About 100 teens receive the Sacrament of Confirmation every Easter after three and a half years of formation in catechism
About 30 candidates and catechumens go through the Call to Continuing Conversion and baptism respectively each year.
The feast day of the parish is celebrated on the last weekend of June.
The other priests in the church are Fr Kenny Tan, parish priest, and Fr Bruno Saint Girons, the regional superior of the Paris Foreign Missions Society (MEP).
For more information on the parish, visit http://www.olps.sg/
|HISTORY OF OLPS CHURCH
|According to the parish website, the idea to build the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour was first given serious consideration in 1954 when it was then felt that the Church of the Holy Family could not accommodate the growing number of worshippers in Katong and the then rural Siglap area, where more people were making their homes.
The following year, Fr Rene Ashness, then parish priest of Holy Family Church, launched a project to raise funds to build a church in Siglap. Fr Paul Munier took over as parish priest in 1957 and continued the fundraising project.
The Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour was blessed on Oct 7, 1961, by Msgr Michael Olcomendy, Archbishop of the then Malacca-Singapore archdiocese.
The parish has since undergone several renovation upgrades.
During the course of one of the renvoation projects in 1997, a time capsule was installed at the foyer of the annex building. It houses memorabilia pertaining to the church and will be opened in 2061 when the church celebrates its centenary.
By Jared Ng