JUNE 29, 2014, Vol 64, No 13
The reasons given by young people who have not been going to Mass regularly, as reported by Clara Lai (Young People Who Don’t Attend Church, CN, June 15), make for interesting reading.
They are not that insurmountable.
If the Catholic Church wants to lead those who have left back to the fold, she has to do a lot of soul searching and for this, hopefully, the Office for Young People can be up to the task.
Find out what is it in the Catholic Church that is driving the youths away to other religions or into the wilderness.
Is it, to quote:
• “Mass...can be a little dry”?
• “see it [Mass] as a ritual and not a need”? Such as same routine, e.g. Introductory Rites, Liturgy of the Eucharist etc.
• “the church was too indoctrinating and stifling”?
• “the homilies. A lot of them I couldn’t relate to”?
It was an example of the rosary’s power to unite people from different ethnic groups.
Close to 300 parishioners of the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea prayed the rosary during an outdoor rosary and candlelight procession on June 13, with each decade being said in Tagalog, Tamil, Chinese, Malayalam and English.
A statue of Our Lady of Fatima, which was recently purchased from Fatima in Portugal and flown to the parish, was carried during the procession.
Parish priest Fr JJ Fenelon was in Fatima recently for a Marian pilgrimage and led in a decade of the Sorrowful Mysteries during the rosary devotion and procession there one night.
He said he was impressed with how each decade was led by people from different nationalities praying in their own language, and yet the thousands of pilgrims from all over the world responded in their own languages.
Inspiring films that leave one thinking and reflecting long after the viewing experience is over.
This just about sums up the reaction of some of the 60 people who attended the first CANA Film Festival held on June 7 and 8.
The event, held at the Catholic Centre on Waterloo St, aimed to introduce viewers to Catholic social teaching via film.
Fifteen documentaries, short and independent feature films were screened over the two afternoons, of which only two were explicitly religious.
Ms Corinne Chan, 36, said she learnt about “human dignity and compassion” from watching the documentary, Menstrual Man, about a man who aims to help poor Indian women gain access to basic feminine hygiene and livelihoods.
Another viewer, Ms Priscilla, 26, said she felt the “film taught us how average people can make changes”.
Seven girls and more than 100 boys and male teachers of St Joseph’s Institution International shaved their heads in a show of solidarity with children suffering from cancer.
The June 11 event was organised as part of Hair for Hope, a fundraiser of the Children’s Cancer Foundation.
In addition, 60 girls, along with one mother and one female teacher, had eight inches (20 cm) of their hair cut off as part of the Beautiful Lengths charity movement.
The locks of hair will be sent to the American Cancer Society to make pro-bono wigs for cancer patients.
The annual events raised over $100,000 and saw participation from about 20 percent of the school community, who came together to embody the Lasallian spirit of standing in solidarity with those who are suffering.
Among the participants were a Grade 7 student, his father, and grandfather, who had their heads shaved together.
Eight members of staff and a board member also had their heads shaved. They include the high school principal Bradley Roberts and Lasalle Br Arian Lopez, head of religious studies and faith formation.
Young Catholics from the Church of Saint Anthony celebrated the Easter season by taking a trip back in time to medieval Europe where the game of “handball” was traditionally played during this season.
Pallamano, which means “handball” in Italian, was a favourite Easter sport most commonly played in France and Germany.
“The ball represents the sun,” explained Bernice Wong, 19, one of the organisers of the event. “It was believed to take three leaps in rising on Easter morning. Tossing the ball upwards represents the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
About 40 young people took part in this sporting activity at Woodlands Waterfront on May 24. It allowed them to have fun, and at the same time, foster camaraderie among each other. Modifications to the games were added, such as shouting “Alleluia!” or any form of praise to God when passing the ball.
A group of volunteers from an Opus Dei centre in Singapore spent more than a week installing solar and wind power systems for Philippine villagers affected by Typhoon Haiyan.
From May 25-June 2, the group from the Ravenahl centre– comprising eight students and young professionals, two university lecturers, and a priest, Fr Jose Pedro Libano – took part in the social project in Tolosa, Philippines, as part of an annual effort to help the less fortunate.
The town is less than 30 minutes away from Tacoloban, which was badly hit by the typhoon in November 2013.
During their trip, the team installed seven solar power systems to villages, providing light and electricity to more than 20 homes.
A hybrid wind turbine and solar system was installed in the local primary school to provide electricity and light to classrooms. The team also put up two solar lamps outside the church, along an important path that many people take.
According to Fr Hans-Joachim Fogl, Singapore has the biggest active German-speaking Catholic community in Asia.
Fr Hans, 53, who came to Singapore in September 2004, is currently the chaplain of the German Catholic community here.
Together with one of the main coordinators Ms Susanne Greiner, 47, Fr Hans told CatholicNews about their community in a recent interview.
The German Catholic community in Singapore was started in 1981, with only about 30 people attending the monthly German Mass then.
Today, it has expanded to about 280 families, or approximately 900 people.
St Ignatius parishioner JY Pillay says he feels “some trepidation” at being appointed to the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency.
“But as George Yeo says, the Holy Spirit will surely guide us,” said Mr Pillay, who is chairman of the Council of Presidential Advisers and of Tiger Airways.
The Vatican announced on June 5 that Mr Pillay, 80, was one of four people from various countries that Pope Francis had appointed as members of the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency.
The other members, who come from Italy, Switzerland and the US, replace the all-Italian team in the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority.
In an email interview with CatholicNews, Mr Pillay said former Singapore Cabinet minister George Yeo, who now serves on the Council of the Economy at the Vatican, “submitted my name after he had urged me to step forward”.
Charismatic Catholics packed the Church of the Risen Christ on June 7 for a rousing Pentecost Rally and Mass.
In his message for the rally, Redemptorist Fr Simon Pereira told the Charismatic communities from the various parishes and institutions that Christians need the Holy Spirit to breathe life into their work and ministries.
Otherwise, they would just be like the “dry bones” mentioned in the Book of Ezekiel, he said, during the celebration organised by the Singapore Archdiocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal (SACCRE).
Archbishop William Goh, in his homily during the sunset Mass, shared that his vision is to create a more dynamic and evangelical Catholic Church in Singapore.
He stressed that “vision” is different from “ambition”, which is about personal achievement.
Teachers, catechists and parent volunteers who took part in a religious education programme recently gave it the thumbs up.
“I learnt methods of making Bible stories come alive, giving students the opportunity to actively participate,” said Mr Anthony Xavier, a parent volunteer at St Stephen’s and St Patrick’s schools.
Ms Yvone Yagappan from St Francis Xavier Kindergarten commented, “It was entertaining, spiritual, and has put me and others on ‘fire’ to go and do the same in our school!”
Mr Xavier and Ms Yagappan were among the 40 participants who attended the June 2-5 programme called REAP (Religious Education Access Programme), organised by the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS).
REAP connects art, drama, music and literature with religious education. It aims to equip teachers and catechists to engage children in a creative learning journey about the Bible and Church teachings.
According to Caritas Singapore, which organises the annual archdiocesan fundraising campaign, contributions this year totalled $5,585,771.
This money will help the less fortunate.
Said Caritas Singapore’s executive director, Ms Bernadette Lau: “Catholics continue to be generous in their giving. Despite the many fundraising activities in the Catholic community, Charities Week continues to benefit from their support.
“This year, we raised slightly over $5.5 million in Charities Week, which is five per cent more than what was raised last year. We want to thank our fellow Catholics for their generosity and support.”
ROME – Security forces in Afghanistan have arrested three men in connection with the kidnapping of a Jesuit priest from India.
The arrests, announced by an Afghan government official, include a man taken into custody on June 4 while two others were detained on June 5 in connection with the disappearance of Fr Alexis Prem Kumar.
He was abducted on June 2 as he was leaving a school serving children who were recently returned to Afghanistan after living as refugees in Iran or Pakistan, reported the Afghan news agency Khaama Press. The Associated Press reported the government official said all three men were Taliban members.
Church officials in India expressed concern for the safety of Fr Prem Kumar, 47, who has worked in Afghanistan since 2011. Fr Joseph Chinnayan, deputy secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, appealed to the Indian government to quickly seek the Jesuit’s release.
Mr Syed Akbaruddin, spokesman for India’s External Affairs Ministry, said via a Twitter post that Indian officials in Herat were pursuing the matter with local authorities, Asian Church news portal ucanews.com reported.
Catholics are invited to support altar servers from 14 parishes who will be participating in the upcoming Archbishop’s Cup.
The annual football tournament, organised for the altar servers of the Singapore archdiocese, will be held at SAFRA Tampines’ futsal fields on June 28.
Thirty-six teams, with participants ranging in age from nine to 18, will take part in three age categories – 13 and under, 16 and under, and 19 and under.
The annual event aims to bond young Catholics from various churches, enhance team building through the competitive nature of the tournament, as well as promote an active lifestyle.
Friar Bonaventure Tung
Franciscan Friar Bonaventure dedicated himself to pastoral and formation ministry in Singapore throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In addition to serving at Bukit Batok, he ministered at the Church of St Francis of Assisi, the Church of Sacred Heart as well as with Hai Sing Pao.
After leaving Singapore, Friar Bonaventure served as a missionary in Morocco, and subsequently with the Chinese community in Australia, before returning to Taiwan, where he continues to be engaged with pastoral ministry.
Friar Bonaventure celebrated his diamond jubilee with a Mass and lunch reception at the Church of St Mary of the Angels on May 17.