IT IS NOT uncommon to hear Catholics being described as “born/cradle Catholics” or “converts”. Either way, the Church teaches that “faith is a gift” and Catholics are baptised because we are “called and chosen by God”.

In the last five years, more than 5,000 adults were baptised into the Catholic faith via the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) in the Singapore Archdiocese. This number excludes infant baptisms, and baptisms of children and youth through the processes of RCIY and RCIC.
Sister Genevieve with a photo montage that was presented to her. Photo by Darren Boon

Genevieve Ng converted to Catholicism and later joined the religious life as a Missionary Sister of Service (MSS). She traversed the vast Australian outback to assist families in home catechesis. Now at age 72 and having celebrated her Golden Jubilee last October, she chats with Darren Boon about her passion for the liturgy of the Word for children, which includes becoming a clown.

“THE LITURGY OF the Word is not catechism. It’s not a bible camp. It’s the first part of the Eucharist!” said Sister Genevieve Ng. “Catechism is teaching about our faith. The Liturgy of the Word is the Mass!”
“You are my beloved!”

With this moving benediction from this Catechetical Sunday’s Lucan Gospel, I greet you all my sisters and brothers in the catechetical ministry. This year I encourage you to respond generously to the initiative of the Catechetical office for a year of prayer and study for all catechists, so that you may be renewed in the ministry of the Word.
This biblical metaphor from the Gospel of Luke 5:39, keeps echoing in my heart as I reflect about the launching of the Archdiocesan Catechist Coordinators Course on Jan 9, 2010. We at the Catechetical Office decided to launch this course on the weekend when the Archdiocese celebrates Catechetical Sunday, as a way of marking a new chapter in the rich history of Catechesis in our local Church. Archbishop Nicholas Chia in his Catechetical Sunday message endorsed and supported the initiative of the Catechetical office to rediscover the ‘original pedagogy of God’. This pedagogy finds its most concrete expression in the words and actions of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of all mankind. This is why the Catechetical Sunday theme for this year is – ‘You Have Only One Teacher – Jesus Christ’.

Cast members from Walk on Water Productions re-enacting the Nativity story.
Photo by Darren Boon

SINGAPORE – About 150 people attended a play “Five Golden Rings” on Jan 2 to usher in the New Year at the Church of the Holy Spirit.

The play was staged by Walk on Water Productions, a community of young adults dedicated to spreading the Word of God and faith through theatre and Catholic-themed plays.

The title “Five Golden Rings” refers to the first five books of the Old Testament or the “Pentateuch”, which establishes God’s relationship with mankind.

According to the community’s artistic director Geraldine Wee, who is in her early 30s, the production relooked the true meaning of Christmas and how it is a time for relationships to be renewed. The idea for the stories within the play was drawn from within the community, friends and life examples around.
SINGAPORE – Over three Saturdays in November and December 2009, the Children Liturgy (CL) Trainers’ Team conducted a basic course at Church of Christ the King for a new group of nine facilitators from four parishes.

The team of eight trainers comprised existing CL facilitators from St. Joseph Church (Bukit Timah), Church of the Holy Cross, Church of the Holy Spirit and Church of the Holy Family. They took the participants through five aspects of the course: the Liturgy of the Word, the important principles of a good liturgy, the call to be ministers, sharing the Word of God as well as the mission and vision of Christ.

It was the first time that the trainers were conducting a basic course, having been commissioned as trainers at the 2009 Annual Gathering of Children Liturgy Facilitators. The annual gathering, which helps to forge solidarity among CL facilitators across Singapore, saw CL facilitators from 10 parishes gather for discussions with Sister Genevieve Ng and Father Johnson Fernandez on how to empower and strengthen this ministry for the children.

The flower petals on the banner for the Conference are filled in with delegates’ names.
Photo by Beginning Experience Singapore

SINGAPORE – Beginning Experience (BE) Singapore hosted its first Asia Pacific Regional Board conference at the St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary and Marriage Encounter House last Oct 23-25.

BE Singapore is a 21-year-old peer ministry for the widowed, divorced, and separated individuals, to facilitate a resolution of grief surrounding the end of a marriage or relationship, so healing can take place. Its spiritual director is Canossian Sister Margaret Syn.

Conferences are held every two years and hosted by different teams in the region.

Themed “Sowing the Seeds”, the aim of the 2009 conference was to encourage some 70 delegates from Australia, New Zealand and Singapore to “be challenged, excited and inspired”. Delegates chose the workshops they wanted to work on in their lives, from topics including “How to be an Effective Wound Healer” and “Keeping Chaste after the Loss of a Spouse”.
Father Timothy Radcliffe giving his talk at St. Patrick’s School. Photo by Don Gurugay

SINGAPORE – The Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS), whose mission is to “assist Catholic schools in developing whole persons for God in society”, is embarking on a larger number of events for 2010, as compared to previous years.

There will be a total of 27 workshops, formation programmes, retreats and general events lined up – almost double the 14 events in 2009 – chosen and organised on the basis of feedback received from educators and members of the Catholic faithful.

Amongst the firsts in 2010 is an Evening of Prayer by the Prior of Taize, Brother Alois, scheduled for Friday Jan 29 at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. Executive Director of ACCS Wendy Louis says this was in response to the need for encouraging young teachers and older students up to a tertiary level, on the importance of prayers, something which was, at times, put on the “backburner”.

St. Mary of the Angels orchestra and choir performing at the parish’s Christmas Midnight Mass 2009.
Photo by Pujianto Cemerlang

SINGAPORE – The orchestra and choir of St. Mary of the Angels parish have been busy since they first came together to serve at Masses, originally as an “ad-hoc” orchestra that made its first appearance at the parish’s Christmas Midnight Mass in 2008.

In 2009, their “most recent major concert” was “Advent Magic” held on Saturday Dec 5, said the orchestra’s Director of Music and Liturgy Adrian Chong.

The evening of sacred songs from Advent and Christmas, including Handel’s “And the Glory” and “For Unto Us A Child is Born”, and Faure’s “Cantique de Jean Racine”, also saw guest performances by Franciscan Friars Derrick Yap and Oliver Tham.
SINGAPORE – Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus (CHIJ) Katong Primary officially opened its new school building on Friday Nov 20, 2009. That was three years after it was first relocated to Bedok North while the school along Martia Road was upgraded under the Education Ministry’s school premises improvement programme.

Staff and students, who first returned to the original building on Dec 1, 2008, now enjoy more space over six storeys and one basement, compared to the previous four-storey block. Classrooms are bigger and there are more open spaces to facilitate learning in different ways, such as new science decks, an arts section and even a music corner for performances and dance studios.

The school was officially blessed on Jan 23, 2009, but celebrated its official opening only in November with an open house, outdoor performances, and co-curricular and class displays.
Church of Sts. Peter and Paul hosts choirs from different parishes at the the Festival of Choirs 2009, organised by the Liturgical Music Committee. Photo by Joyce Gan

SINGAPORE – This Festival of Choirs is organised by the Archdiocese’s Liturgical Music Committee (LMC) to promote fellowship between choirs and choir leaders within the archdiocese, as well as to facilitate an exchange of sacred music and liturgical music.

Choirs are encouraged to participate, share and sing from repertoires they are familiar with, “with no directive that the sharing be one worthy of a gig at the Esplanade”, said City District representative Kenneth Wee from Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, who organised last year’s Festival of Choirs at the church.

Seven choirs shared pieces from their weekend liturgy; each had a presentation of about 10 minutes.

But it hasn’t been easy getting choirs from churches to participate, revealed Mr Wee.

Priests and nuns from China give a choral performance at the China-Singapore Religious Cultural Exhibition.
Photo by Darren Boon

SINGAPORE – Chinese Catholic delegates have expressed hopes for more interaction between the China and Singapore Catholic Churches.

They spoke to CatholicNews after their choral performance at the China-Singapore Religious Cultural Exhibition on Dec 19 at Suntec Convention Centre.

Father Li Jianmin from Beijing hopes that Singapore Catholics will visit the Catholic Church in China to see the Church’s progress over the years – which he said was a “step-by-step, arduous process” – and to “help promote the Chinese Catholic Church”.

There could also be more exchanges and interaction in the areas of evangelisation and social services, said Mr Joseph Liu, Secretary General of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.

A visitor viewing a China-made monstrance while a Chinese Catholic delegate explains to her about the monstrance.
Photo by Darren Boon

SINGAPORE – Singapore Catholic visitors at the China-Singapore Religious Cultural Exhibition 2009 say they are impressed by the Chinese Catholic Church.

For Mrs Rose Silverayan, the Chinese exhibits were “beautiful and an eye-opener”, allowing her “to strike a bond with the Catholics [in China]”.

Some of the exhibits from the Catholic Church in China included bibles and book publications from the 17th to 20th centuries, model replicas of the China churches, as well as China-made monstrances and chalices. New Testament bibles in Chinese were available free to those interested in the Word of God.
China’s Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) Wang Zuoan (left) at tea with Archbishop Nicholas Chia (right). Photo by Darren Boon

SINGAPORE – Archbishop Nicholas Chia met with China’s Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA), Mr Wang Zuoan, at the Archbishop’s House on Dec 16, 2009.

During a discussion between the two leaders, the Director said that the China-Singapore Religious Cultural Exhibition was “beneficial to both countries” and “helps promotes interreligious harmony and understanding within one’s country”.

Mr Wang also called for more exchange and interaction between the Catholic Churches of Singapore and China in areas such as church administration, church social services and theology studies where both sides can interact, cooperate and learn from one another.

Noting that Mandarin is a common language to both countries, Mr Wang said Singapore was well-positioned as a place of exchange and training of the Chinese clergy and religious. He encouraged the Archbishop to consider hosting the Chinese people and sending the Singapore religious over to China for an exchange.
From Church of the Holy Family to Church of Divine Mercy

FEATURED HERE IS the Church of the Holy Family in 1937 – as a chapel.

This chapel was built in 1923 by then parish priest at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, Father Pierre Ruaudel, on land donated by Mr James Leonard Scheerder. It was dedicated to the Holy Family by request of Mr Scheerder.

Before the chapel was built, Eurasian families who moved into the Katong area had to celebrate Mass in one of the houses. With the chapel, they then had a proper church for Mass.

Over the next 10 years, more parishioners from the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd relocated to the east coast where housing was cheaper – it became apparent that the chapel built in 1923 could not accommodate all of them.

SINGAPORE – The Church of Divine Mercy (CDM) celebrated a Dedication Mass on Jan 9, attended by some 1,500 Catholics including parishioners and Divine Mercy prayer groups from all over Singapore.

Archbishop Nicholas Chia was the main celebrant of the Mass, alongside CDM’s parish priest Father Johnson Fernandez, assistant priest Father Ignatius Yeo and 29 other priests.

The dedication rite that evening saw a relic of St. Faustina deposited beneath the altar as well as the anointing, incensing and lighting of the altar and the church.

SINCE HER TEENAGER DAYS, Marion Fernandez has been writing Church-related poems and hymns that touch on the love of God in one way or another. The main recipients of her works have been her family and friends, be it for her parents’ 40th wedding anniversary or for friends getting married in the Catholic Church.

That circle, however, is now widening.

Last year, it hit Marion that “if I don’t do anything with them, I will be wasting my talents”. That’s when she quickly set to work on the CD album, “Blessed Are You: A Tribute To Our Blessed Mother”, because “my philosophy of life is that we have to make use of our talents to glorify God”.

She added: “I see this as something that can bring inspiration and comfort to those who are already Catholics and also to help evangelise those who are not yet Catholic but inclined towards the faith.”

EVERY YEAR IN FEBRUARY, an entire week is dedicated to raising awareness of Eating Disorders, characterised by abnormal eating habits that involve either insufficient or excessive food intake to the detriment of a person’s physical, emotional and psychological health.

In the U.S., statistics estimate that eating disorders affect about up to five to 10 million females and one million males.

In Singapore, the numbers are climbing fast. Channel News Asia reported in 2007 that the number of teenagers with eating disorders had increased six-fold from 2002, while the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) reported 140 new cases every year with only 10-20 per cent seeking treatment.

Before 2002, SGH saw about 20-30 anorexic patients a year. In 2006, it saw 200.

Society of Paris Foreign Missions of Paris (MEP) Father Michael Arro has spent 53 out of 55 years of his priestly vocation serving Singapore and Malaysia in various positions and apostolate: as Professor in Theology in the seminaries of Penang and Singapore, member of the Senate of Priests, Superior General of the MEP for Singapore-Malaysia and chaplain to students. He tells Darren Boon that he finds parish work and being amongst the people the most fulfilling

SINGAPORE – At 80 years old, Father Arro is the oldest parish priest in Singapore. But age has not prevented him from continuing to visit members of his flock because he believes that such a gesture lets his parishioners experience the priest as a part of their lives. It also shows them that he is very much interested in who they are and the difficulties they face.

“Parish work gives me direct contact with the people. I like to meet people because people are my family…we are all one family,” said Father Arro, parish priest of St. Teresa. “I like to listen to what’s going on in their lives and eventually to affirm them and confirm them.”

He added: “You don’t go to ask them for any help or for giving you money. You go to their homes just to be with them.”


Pope Benedict XVI shakes hands with Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, the chief rabbi of Rome, at the main synagogue in Rome Jan 17. CNS photos

ME – Visiting the Rome synagogue, Pope Benedict strongly reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to dialogue with the Jews and its modern teachings against anti-Semitism. He also recalled the Church’s request for forgiveness for the failings of Christians and for all they may have done to contribute to “the scourge of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism”. “May these wounds be healed forever!” the pope said to applause in the packed synagogue.


Residents help an injured man in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan 14. The death toll in Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake could run to tens of thousands of people. An estimate three million others will require emergency assistance, according to aid groups.

WASHINGTON – Haitian Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot was known as a humble man who was close to the poor in the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince.

Archbishop Miot, 63, was among tens of thousands of Haitians who died in the Jan 12 earthquake.

For years he served as president of the Haitian bishops’ justice and peace commission, and he often spoke of the need to help the citizens of the Western Hemisphere’s most-impoverished nation.

A victim cries as she awaits medical assistance in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan 13. The Red Cross said one-third of Haiti’s population will require aid following the earthquake that struck Jan 12.
CNS photo
SINGAPORE – The Church of St. Vincent de Paul is posting complete videos of its Saturday sunset Masses on its website for parishioners who cannot make it to church.

Parish priest Father Michael Sitaram said the videos are mainly to reach out to the housebound.

While they receive Holy Communion weekly from a Eucharistic minister, they are now able to view the Mass celebration despite being physically unable to attend. “Many of them were once active in the parish and are happy to see how the church is growing,” said Father Sitaram.

Furthermore, some parishioners who are able to attend Mass may want to hear the homily again, he added.

The parish is believed to be the first in the Singapore archdiocese to offer such a service.
FMM Sister Molly Lim taking the teachers on an eco-tour of the Maris Stella Convent. Photo by Darren Boon

SINGAPORE – The principal of Hai Sing Catholic School has unveiled a pilot environmental programme in which staff would hold their regular seminar during the school holidays by webcast.

Charles Surin told his teachers during a brainstorming session, on what the school could do to go green, that the measure would save on the environmental impact of travelling to school.

Other ideas included submitting electronic copies of weekly lessons plans instead of printed copies, and having online quizzes for students.

Some 80 teachers from the school, set up by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) in 1959, attended an orientation day focusing on Franciscan environmental values.

(Left to right) Rev Paul Box (International Baptist Church of Singapore), Rev Nick Singh (Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer), Rev Susheel Cherriyan (Mar Thoma Syrian Church), Captain Lim Chee Kwee (Salvation Army – Christian), Rev Father Daniel (Holy Resurrection Orthodox Christian Church), Rev Terence Yeo (Barker Road Methodist Church), Rev Paul Tan (St. Peter’s Church – Anglican) and Monsignor Eugene Vaz and Father Philip Heng, SJ, gather for prayer.
Photo by Darren Boon

SINGAPORE – The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity kicked off on Jan 18 with a prayer service at Church of St. Ignatius which saw ministers from various Christian denominations coming together to pray for Christian unity.

Representing the Catholic Church were Monsignor Eugene Vaz and Jesuit Father Philip Heng, parish priest of Church of St. Ignatius. Also present were ministers from the Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, Baptist, Orthodox Christian, Mar Thoma and Christian churches.

In his sermon to the 150 people present, mostly Catholics, at the evening’s service, Father Heng said that there are groups of Christians still uneasy with the term “Christian Unity” and do not see much hope in Christian unity.

There are Christians who emphasise their differences, he added, “and it leads to unhealthy competition, bad mouthing, and poaching”. These divisive efforts can be scandalous and counterproductive to the Christian fundamentals of being witnesses of Christ.
SINGAPORE – Although Singapore has one of the fastest ageing populations with many services for the elderly, little is said about the spirituality of ageing.

Singapore Pastoral Institute (SPI) together with Caritas Singapore and Family Life Society will address this gap by kickstarting the Dignity of the Elderly project with workshops on aged care and spirituality by expert, Professor Elizabeth MacKinlay (photo).

Professor MacKinlay is a registered nurse, Director of the Centre for Ageing and Pastoral Studies at St. Mark’s National Theological Centre in Canberra, as well as Associate Professor, School of Theology, Charles Sturt University.

She also chairs the Australian Capital Territory Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing. Her last book, Spiritual growth and care in the fourth age of life, won the 2006 Australasian Journal on Ageing (AJA) Book Award.

Newly ordained Father Michael Cheong (left) and Father Noel Campos, together with Archbishop Nicholas Chia, give the final blessing at their ordination Mass.
Photo by Henry Seah

SINGAPORE – Some 10 years ago, Michael Cheong and Noel Campos did not imagine they would become priests. Yet on Friday Jan 15, both were ordained Verbum Dei (Latin for “Word of God”) missionary priests at Blessed Sacrament Church.

For the two men, the journey has brought them joy in a most unexpected way.

Michael, 35, who was a student at the National University of Singapore in 1999, had been looking for a Spiritual Director for a Catholic group of friends when he was invited to a Verbum Dei prayer meeting. He agreed to go, thinking that he might meet a suitable Spiritual Director.

“I found they were a very different religious group – very young, very alive,” Michael said, remembering his “first contact” with Verbum Dei. “They were talking about Jesus, shared about Jesus... very crazy, I thought,” he laughed.

(Top) Bearers of Christmas joy from Singapore; (Below)Christmas treat – a meal of curry with bread for the Khmer children.

SINGAPORE – Thirty-seven Catholics from Singapore, Malaysia, Spain and Australia chose to spend their Christmas in Siem Reap, Cambodia with priests, religious Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, fellow Khmer Catholics and the people living in the land and floating villages.

We went simply because we wanted to bring and share the Christmas cheer and joy to a people still recovering from the wounds of civil war, the Khmer genocide and the Vietnamese invasion. Many of them live below the poverty line.

So with “willing hearts and listening ears”, the group of 19 men and 18 women – comprising professionals, students, retirees from ages 13 to 96 – set off for Siem Reap on Christmas Day 2009, bearing gifts for the people of Cambodia.

Father Erbin addressing the course participants. Photo by Arthur Goh

SINGAPORE – The Catechetical Office commemorated Catechetical Sunday this year by launching the Archdiocesan Catechist Coordinator’s Course on Jan 9. The new course, which was one year in the making, is the initiative of Father Erbin Fernandez, Director of Catechesis.

The objective of the course is to re-acquaint catechist co-coordinators with the fundamental norms that govern catechetical ministry within the Catholic tradition. Approximately 60 catechists/coordinators (representing 16 parishes) have committed themselves to an ongoing journey of formation, in the hope of renewing the catechetical ministry in their respective parishes.

Those who gathered on Saturday morning for their first session in the Catholic Archdiocesan Education Centre said they were inspired by a simple para-liturgy that celebrated 50 years of catechetical development since the Second Vatican Council.

Parishioners from Churches of Our Lady Queen of Peace and St. Ignatius, together with non-Catholic participants, distributing ‘love parcels’ to the poor in Cambodia.
Photos by Jeffrey MacPherson

SINGAPORE – A small group of parishioners of Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace who spent a week-long mission trip at a Don Bosco school in Cambodia were inspired by the cheerful disposition and quiet servitude of the Salesian Sisters that the volunteers felt they had to share the joy of service with others.

That was Advent 2006.

With the permission of Parish Priest Father Francis Lee, the parish in 2007 launched its outreach programme – ACTS – which stands for Advent Cambodia Trips as well as “A Call to Serve” that follows the example of the Acts of the Apostles.

Archbishop Nicholas Chia mingling with the French-speaking Catholic community after Mass.
Photo by Andre Levisse

SINGAPORE – Archbishop Nicholas Chia celebrated Mass for about 450 members of the French-speaking Catholic community at the Good Shepherd Chapel in Marymount Convent on Sun Jan 17.

Concelebrating the morning’s Eucharist with the Archbishop was Father Paul Ngo, chaplain to the community.

According to Andre Levisse, coordinator for the French-speaking community, the community comprises about 250 families with about 1,200 members in total, given the large number of children.
Father Adrian Yeo, who has returned from his studies in the U.S., has been assisting at Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour from Jan 15.

Father Albert Brys, CICM, who was Assistant Priest at Church of St. Francis of Assisi is now retired and residing at St. Joseph’s Home.

Father Augustine Joseph, who is priest-in-residence at Church of St. Francis of Assisi will resume his duties as Parish Priest in Church of Our Lady of Lourdes on Feb 1.

Father Gerard Weerakoon, who is Parish Administrator of Church of Our Lady of Lourdes will become Assistant Priest in Church of St. Francis of Assisi on Feb 1.

NEW YORK – An inscription over the entry gate of the Memphis, Tenn., school where some of the early scenes of the inspirational family drama “The Blind Side” (Warner Bros.) are set, reads: “With God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26). That Bible verse aptly characterises the remarkable series of real-life events first recounted in Michael Lewis’ 2006 best-seller “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game”, and adapted here for the screen.

The Christian academy in question is the meeting place of homeless, solitary and emotionally shell-shocked black teen Michael Oher (appealing newcomer Quinton Aaron) and two fellow students – white children of privilege Collins (Lily Collins) and S. J. (Jae Head) Tuohy – whose family is destined to transform his life and to be, in turn, transformed by him.

WASHINGTON – Baltimore-based Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has been asked by the Vatican to coordinate the Church’s relief and recovery efforts in earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

The Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Vatican office that promotes and coordinates Catholic charitable giving and distributes the money the pope designates for charity, made the request.

“The past experience, expertise, and resources of CRS will enable prompt and effective coordination of the Church’s efforts, which in the words of Pope Benedict, must be generous and concrete to meet the pressing needs of our Haitian brothers and sisters,” it said.
VATICAN CITY – Catholic teaching and the truths of the Gospel have a right to be heard in public debate, especially in a country where so many people claim to be Christian, Pope Benedict XVI told the bishops of England and Wales.

However, the Church must recognise dissent within her own ranks and not accept it as being part of a balanced discussion, he said Feb 1 in an address to bishops who were making their “ad limina” visits.

The meeting with the bishops, who were at the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses, took place as Pope Benedict prepares to visit Great Britain in September.
Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (Feb 17 this year) and ends on Easter Sunday. It is the season for soul-searching, reflection and repentance. Joyce Gan speaks with Father Ignatius Huan, Spiritual Director and Initiation Year Director at the St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary, to find out more about the relationship between penance and baptism

THE SEASON OF Lent originated in the earliest days of the Church as a preparatory time for Easter, when the faithful rededicate themselves to their baptismal promises, and when converts who are instructed in the faith are prepared for baptism.
ASH WEDNESDAY (FEB 17) marks the beginning of Lent, the 40 days of preparation for the Easter season when Christians are called to renew their commitment to spiritual practices like prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Lent is an annual opportunity to grow in our faith, which means it’s about much more than giving up unhealthy foods or treats, as we may have done as children. It is about abstaining from whatever is unhealthy in our lives – gossip, laziness, lack of social conscience – and, most importantly, taking concrete steps to do something more. Challenge yourself this year, and go beyond the clichés of “giving up” something. Now is a great time to take stock of our spiritual life, and to grow in it.

LENT AS A 40-day season developed in the fourth century; Ash Wednesday was instituted to bring the number of fast days before Easter to 40, not including Sundays.
1. Don’t use make-up as a reminder that we are made in the image and likeness of God.

2. Don’t use the Lord’s name in vain, including texting “OMG” as a reminder of the third commandment to give rightful respect and dignity to God.

3. Surrender comfort vices as a lesson that we should draw strength and comfort from God alone instead of from alcohol, food, cigarettes, etc.

4. Drink coffee or tea without sugar as a reminder that life can be bitter without the sweetness of God.
Father Ignatius Huan, 68, has been shaping and moulding the lives of others – from secondary schools to the seminaries – for the most of his life. As he celebrates his silver jubilee in the priesthood this Mar 28, he tells Darren Boon about the disappointments he encountered, how he overcame them, and his passion in spiritual direction and spirituality

SINGAPORE – Unless you attend Mass at either the parishes of the Holy Spirit, Holy Trinity, Holy Family or Our Lady Star of the Sea, or attended any of the retreats he has conducted, you would probably find Father Ignatius Huan unfamiliar.

After all, Father Huan is ‘on loan’ from the Malaysia Church to the St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary as a spiritual director and lecturer to the seminarians for the benefit of the several Malaysian seminarians here.
The Church celebrates World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life on Feb 2 every year. Instituted by the late Pope John Paul II, this day is meant for the Church to appreciate those who have chosen to follow Christ through the consecrated life, and for religious to renew their commitment and fervour in their vocation. CatholicNews congratulates the following religious who are celebrating their jubilees this year