JULY 19, 2009, Vol 59, No15

Sister Clare mingles with well wishers at celebrations marking end of Year of St. Paul. Photo provided by Associate of Pauline Cooperators

SINGAPORE – About 50 people gathered at Choice Retreat House in Jurong on Sunday Jun 28 to mark the close of the Year of St. Paul. Organised by the Daughters of St. Paul, the occasion also marked the congregation’s 15th year in Singapore.
SINGAPORE – The Singapore archdiocese closed the Year of St. Paul with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Nicholas Chia at Church of Sts. Peter and Paul on Jun 29.

Among the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul’s many activities to celebrate the year was one encouraging people to read at least one epistle of St. Paul. This took the form of a Pledge Book which people were asked to sign. To encourage participation, the parish even produced an audio CD of a few of St. Paul’s epistles to help visually-impaired pledge-takers fulfil their pledge. Some 2,000 persons eventually signed the pledge. The book will be sent to Rome as a sign of the local Church’s response to the year.

? For communion minister Ivan Wong, the Year of St. Paul has meant the added challenge of living up to the mission of Christ on a daily basis. By putting Christ to work at work, he strives to model what it takes to be a decent human being in everyday encounters. During this special year, Ivan took the additional step to distribute Holy Communion to the sick at their homes.

When Msgr Vaz preaches at Mass in the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, Peter Lock, 40, pays special attention. He told CatholicNews, “Msgr Vaz’s homilies are a Bible lesson in itself, as he effortlessly strings the meaning of the readings and ties it to the entire week’s readings.” “But beyond that, the way he worships the Eucharist in his hands while concelebrating [Mass] shows [where] he draws his inspiration from. His classes on [the Letters of] St. Paul and Salvation History really inspired me to study the Bible more for its richness,” said Mr Lock.

OUR FATHER EUGENE VAZ

Friendly, lovable Msgr Eugene Vaz works tirelessly to share with people the word of God in every area of his ministry
OUR FATHER AMBROSE VAZ

Bible scholar Father Ambrose Vaz wants others to be as excited as he is to know the power and love of God through the word of God

FATHER AMBROSE VAZ was rather worried when he was first asked to take up Bible studies at the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C., by Archbishop Gregory Yong in 1986. He thought the study of Scripture was daunting because he had to study various ‘Bible languages’ and he wished that he could go and study other courses. But “now I am so glad I did it”, he said. Today, he (and his brother Msgr Eugene Vaz) are among the Singapore archdiocese’s most respected teachers of the word of God.

In the first of a series of articles on money and Catholic Social Teachings, we look at what the Church says about wealth and poverty.

The Catholic Church has always been concerned about the poor and cares deeply for them. Its emphasis on the poor has led some to say that the Church over-romanticises poverty and spurns wealth.

Ms Esther Wong (left) explains to participants the meaning behind a meditation exercise before sending them off for their individual reflection. Photo by Daniel Tay

SINGAPORE – Seventeen people with different religious affiliations came together for a one-day interfaith retreat titled “Meditation in the Park” on Saturday Jul 4.

SINGAPORE – Mdm Yip is in her 70s; she walks with a limp and is diabetic. She lives in Aljunied housing estate, in a three-room apartment, with her daughter, who works as a mobile phone salesperson till 10.00pm everyday to make ends meet. Three times a week, Mdm Yip makes her way to the nearby Church  of St. Stephen for free meals provided by Willing Hearts.

Starting this year, the parish of St. Stephen has collaborated with Willing Hearts to provide free cooked food for the needy in the neighbourhood.

Peter Tan writes the Gospel reflection for the bulletin of Christ the King parish. He has been doing that for about 20 years.

THE CELEBRATION OF Father’s Day every year provides us with the opportunity to express our affirmation for our priests whose selfless lives have brought much growing to our own. While much publicity in the media and even in our parish communities extol the qualities of our personal fathers on Father’s Day, little is spoken about our priests, our spiritual fathers whose quiet, unostentatious and tireless devotion to us is taken for granted and quickly forgotten.
SINGAPORE – Father Aloysius Ong returned to Singapore on Saturday Jun 27 after being away in Rome for a two-year course in Spirituality at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

He has brought back with him a deepened knowledge about Spirituality, which he described as a “treasure and beauty of our Catholic heritage” that allows one to have a “profound encounter with God”, an experience that many people are longing for.
Members of the Saint Ignatius Young Adults Eucharistic Adoration Community pray before the Blessed Sacrament during the monthly adoration.

SINGAPORE – The seed of the Saint Ignatius Young Adults Eucharistic Adoration Community was sown in Grace Low whilst on a pilgrimage to Lourdes in November 2007. There, Ms Low, a senior manager in her early 30s, received a prompting during benediction whilst in adoration to bring young adults to the Eucharistic Adoration and, in the silence, hear the voice of God.
Father Henry Siew saw the economic crisis looming and initiated Matthew 25 to provide free meals to those in need

SINGAPORE – A cup of water, a plateful of food, and shelter from the hot sun – that is what Mr Fu, a 38-year-old labourer from China, looks forward to at lunchtime. He has been in Singapore for a year and comes to Matthew 25, a soup kitchen located in front of Punggol Park, for a free lunch, everyday, to save money. This is because he sends most of the little money he earns here to his family of five in China, to put his children through school and give them a better life.
Volunteers of Matthew 25 help to serve and distribute the cooked food to the hungry. Photo by Angela Anthony

AMONG THE VOLUNTEERS at Matthew 25 are eight Chinese nationals. Most are “study-mamas” – women, usually from mainland China, who accompany their children to Singapore for their education.

The St. Francis Xavier Youth Choir sings at their parish Christmas pageant last year. They will be singing a musical on the life of St. Francis Xavier on Aug 7 this year. Photo by Stefan Tan

Musical on life of St. Francis Xavier to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Church  of St. Francis Xavier

SINGAPORE – The award-winning St. Francis Xavier Youth Choir will be staging “The Call” at the Victoria Concert Hall on Aug 7, 2009. This is the choir’s third musical and it is being performed to celebrate the parish’s 50th anniversary.

Father Gerard Weerakoon during his session at the retreat.

SINGAPORE – Forty children from Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary spent three days at a stay-in camp during the June school holidays. The camp, held at the church grounds, was organised by the Primary Five catechists because they saw that it would be beneficial to the kids as well as enjoyable and educational.
ACTRESS FARRAH FAWCETT died on Jun 25 after a long battle with anal cancer. She was 62. Though she was raised a Catholic, her faith never seemed to be apparent in public but as she battled cancer she spoke about praying to God and hoping for a miracle.

In a documentary about her struggle that she produced and which aired on network television in May, she was often shown holding a rosary during her treatments.
Many parishes in the Singapore archdiocese have organised a variety of activities to encourage parishioners to take more interest in the word of God. Here are some

Church of the Holy Spirit

The Bible Apostolate has organised activities leading up to Bible Sunday including:
THE COUNCIL FOR Inter-Religious and Ecumenical Dialogue (IRED) will be organising a series of talks as a follow-up of their series last year “Love of God, Love of Neighbour”. This is IRED's effort in the continuing formation of Catholics in the understanding of the other religions in Singapore.

The frst will be hosted by the Sri Krishnan Temple at Waterloo Street on Wednesday Jul 29. The evening will start with the tour of the temple, a meal hosted by our Hindu friends and a talk “Loving Thy Neighbour” with questions-and-answers to follow.
Churchgoers at the parish of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary have their temperature screened before entering the church building for Mass. Photo by Darren Boon

SINGAPORE – The Catholic Church in Singapore is doing its bit to curb the spread of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus. The parish of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, for one, has been screening the temperatures of churchgoers, using handheld infrared scanners, before allowing them to enter the church building for Mass since the weekend of Jun 27-28.

FATHER PATRICK GOH, chancellor of the Singapore archdiocese, confirmed that instructions issued by Archbishop Nicholas Chia on Apr 30 on the precautions to be taken during Mass are still in force. Parishes are also strongly urged to cancel youth camps, said Father Patrick.

The archbishop had instructed that Communion not be given on the tongue, that people avoid shaking hands during the sign of peace at Mass, that they not hold hands at the “Our Father”, and that holy water fonts not be filled (photo).

Our God is a God who speaks. How does He speak?

“In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, God spoke to us through his Son.”( Heb 1:1-2).

Below is a summary of a refection for Bible Sunday 2009 written by Bishop Cornelius Sim for the Regional Biblical Commission of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei

JOHN THE BAPTIST prepares the way for Jesus who proclaims: “This is the time of fulfilment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel.” (Mk 1:14)