FEBRUARY 8, 2015, Vol 65, No 03

Singapore residents take part in Pope Francis' Jan 13-19 visit to the Philippines and Sri Lanka

The group from Singapore including Ms Angela Perumal-Schooling (left foreground), waiting for Pope Francis after he arrived in Sri Lanka on Jan 17. The group from Singapore including Ms Angela Perumal-Schooling (left foreground), waiting for Pope Francis after he arrived in Sri Lanka on Jan 17.Among the thousands who stood for hours under the blazing sun to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis, who arrived in Sri Lanka on Jan 13, was a group of 15 Singaporeans, including pre-press foreman Angela Perumal-Schooling.

She said that upon seeing the pope, she was “ecstatic”.

Ms Perumal-Schooling, who is a parishioner at the Church of St Bernadette shared with CatholicNews that it was “a truly jubilant moment for the group”.

The group included Chinese, Indian and Eurasians from various parishes.

The group had a good view and “We all had a good snap of our dearest pope,” said Ms Perumal-Schooling.
Singporean Sr Thomasina Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood http://www.fmdmsgmy.orgSingporean Sr Thomasina Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood http://www.fmdmsgmy.org
When was the last time you had fun? Name the occasion.
At the 2014 year-end dinner and dance for Mt Alvernia Hospital staff. One of the items we had to do was something like Zumba! I found my hands and legs going in the opposite direction of everyone else’s.

Name an occasion you felt embarrassed/humiliated.
One of the Members of Parliament paid a visit to the hospital during Christmas. As we talked about babies delivered, I said we had 6,000+ babies last month. When I saw the reaction on his face, I knew I said something stupid. I meant for the year!

Name an occasion when you felt God was far away.
Many years ago when my father was sick for a short while and died. Because of the system in Religious life at that time, I wasn’t allowed to visit him. My belief that God will look after my family was shattered.
Fr Ricky Manalo performing one of his songs. Photo: Pujianto CemerlangFr Ricky Manalo performing one of his songs. Photo: Pujianto Cemerlang
It was a concert out of the ordinary as contemplative prayer took centre stage.

Fr Ricky Manalo’s opening hymn, the haunting Be Still and Know I’m Here, was a crowd favourite.

Performing at the Spirit and Grace Jan 23 evening concert at the Church of St Mary of the Angels, he was joined by a choir of about 30, and the parish’s instrumentalists.

But it wasn’t just any concert performance which showcased the American Paulist priest’s compositions. Instead, contemplative prayer took centre stage.

Despite bantering with a crowd of 700, many of whom had queued in true Singaporean fashion for an hour to reserve seats, Fr Ricky looked relaxed even while nursing a bad back.
Past and present instructors  (above) were honoured at the reunion; and Dr and Mrs Victor Wee (right) shared memorable experiences.Past and present instructors (above) were honoured at the reunion; and Dr and Mrs Victor Wee (right) shared memorable experiences.

Natural Family Planning Service Singapore (NFP) held a reunion with over 80 past and current instructors and their families on Jan 17 at Orchid Country Club.

Mass was concelebrated by Sacred Heart Fr Anthony Hutjes and Dominican Fr David Garcia.

Sharing their most memorable occasions and anecdotes to huge applause were Dr Victor and Mrs Vivienne Wee, together with Dr Ian Snodgrass.

NFP instructors have been promoting the method since the early 70s. Besides promoting self-awareness, NFP is also couple-oriented and promotes sharing and joint responsibility in planning a family.
Singapore residents take part in Pope Francis' Jan 13-19 visit to the Philippines and Sri Lanka

Left: The Singapore-based choir  members after  the papal Mass  on Jan 18. The author is on the extreme right, third row. Photo: MARKY CANIOSLeft: The Singapore-based choir members after the papal Mass on Jan 18. The author is on the extreme right, third row. Photo: MARKY CANIOSSurprises. We experienced our fair share of these on the road to and at the exhilarating and faith-enriching visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines.

We were invited last August to be part of the 1,000-member choir for the pope’s closing Mass on Jan 18.  This was after we sang as one of the choirs supporting Jesuit Fr Manoling Francisco in his prayer concert at the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace.

As fellow chorister, Mr Ben Dominguez, said, “We were not expecting that something bigger than the Fr Manoling concert was going to happen. It was humbling and really exciting.”

Our group, St Francis Xavier Choir, comprises mostly parishioners of the Churches of St Ignatius and St Vincent de Paul, as well as Church of the Divine Mercy.
Ash Wednesday (Feb 18, 2015) falls on Chinese New Year Eve. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia-Singapore-Brunei has decided that Masses are to be arranged with imposition of ashes on that day.  However, fasting can take place on Ash Wednesday itself or on another day to be decided by the individual.

The decision was made by the Bishops’ Conference for pastoral reasons to facilitate maximum participation. It tries to accommodate the cultural needs of those who are celebrating the family reunion dinner on the eve of the Chinese New Year. Others may continue with the norm of Ash Wednesday.Would you fast and abstain?

In view of the announcement above, Catholic News surveyed some Catholics about their Ash Wednesday plans. Here is what they say:

'I will try to fast on Ash Wednesday. I will fast from facebook and eating dessert during the entire Lenten season. No meat on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent. Among the three pillars of Lent (prayer, fasting and works of charity) prayer is my weakness. I will spend more time in prayer during Lent.’  
Ms Pamela Aw-Young, Church of St Ignatius

‘My family will fast on Ash Wednesday. Our full meal will be the reunion dinner.’
In recent years, I have observed that there tends to be a lot more singing during Mass, especially during Sunday Mass.
Allow me to go back a bit in history. If my memory still serves me, when I was a young boy (I am now in my late 50s), we only sang during the opening hymn, Communion song and the closing song.

Over the years, we added a few more singing parts during Mass i.e. Gloria, Responsorial Psalm, Gospel Acclamation, Hosanna, Our Lord’s Prayer, Breaking of Bread (Lamb of God).

In more recent years, I noticed that we continued to add singing parts.

Over the past year, I attended Masses in various churches. The priest now sings the Opening Prayer, parts of the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the Concluding Rite.
 
Fr Christopher Gleeson will be the keynote speaker.Fr Christopher Gleeson will be the keynote speaker.There will be a Catholic Education Conference (CEC) from 8 am-5 pm, on March 16 at St Gabriel’s Secondary School.

The March 16 conference, organised by the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS), is themed: Character of Catholic Schools.

The conference aims to provide a better understanding of the character of Catholic schools, and its role in Singapore today.

It also hopes to affirm and encourage all staff, both Catholic and non-Catholic, in their calling by providing a better understanding of what it means to be a Catholic school, as well as their roles in nurturing a Catholic ethos in Catholic educational institutes.
From left: Mr Wilbur Wong (Montfort Junior School), Mr Mark Minjoot (Montfort Sec School), Fr Adrian Danker, SJ, Archbishop William Goh,  Fr Edward Seah, Madam Soh Lai Leng (Catholic High School) and Mr Kevin Hannah (SJI International Elementary School).From left: Mr Wilbur Wong (Montfort Junior School), Mr Mark Minjoot (Montfort Sec School), Fr Adrian Danker, SJ, Archbishop William Goh, Fr Edward Seah, Madam Soh Lai Leng (Catholic High School) and Mr Kevin Hannah (SJI International Elementary School).
It was a special day for the Catholic Church as Archbishop William Goh commissioned four new principals of Catholic schools on Jan 24.

To commemorate the occasion, there was a special Mass held in which Archbishop Goh was the main celebrant.

Organised by the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools, the four new school principals commissioned that day were Mr Wilbur Wong, Montfort Junior School; Mr Mark Gerard Minjoot, Montfort Secondary School, Madam Soh Lai Leng, Catholic High School; and Mr Kevin Hannah, SJI International Elementary School.

More than a hundred family members, friends, educators, colleagues, students and fellow principals attended the Mass, which was held at the chapel of St Joseph’s Institution International.
The granthi, (extreme right) who is the temple’s caretaker, describes how Sikhs use the Guru Granth Sahib or Holy Book  to pray. The granthi, (extreme right) who is the temple’s caretaker, describes how Sikhs use the Guru Granth Sahib or Holy Book to pray.
Catholics from various parishes were greeted with a surprise even before they stepped into the Central Sikh Temple at 2 Towner Road. They caught a glimpse of a newly-wed Sikh couple.

The 16 Catholics including the executive secretary of the Archdiocesan Catholic Council for Interreligious Dialogue (ACCIRD), Mr Gerald Kong, learnt more about Sikhism on Jan 24.

As a sign of respect, the group removed their footwear, washed their hands, and covered their heads with bandanas and scarfs.

A highlight of the visit was when tour leader, Ms Manjit Kaur, gave a slideshow on the history of Sikhism. She also answered questions posed by the participants.

She started her presentation by demonstrating the Sikh way of greeting guests. “We would put our hands together and say, Sat Sri Akaal,” she said.
The  Religious Major Superiors of  Malaysia and Singapore are joined by (seated, second from left) Ms Zainah Anwar, Ms Marina Mahathir, Archbishop Joseph Marino, Associate Professor Farid Alatas (second from right) and Archbishop Emeritus Anthony Soter Fernandez of Kuala Lumpur (far right).The Religious Major Superiors of Malaysia and Singapore are joined by (seated, second from left) Ms Zainah Anwar, Ms Marina Mahathir, Archbishop Joseph Marino, Associate Professor Farid Alatas (second from right) and Archbishop Emeritus Anthony Soter Fernandez of Kuala Lumpur (far right).

The Conference of Religious Major Superiors (CRMS) of Malaysia and Singapore held the first of their bi-annual meetings this year from Jan 14-16 in Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Twenty-five superiors of the various Religious congregations in both countries met to plan, discuss and share various concerns pertaining to their ministries and the Church.

A highlight of the three-day conference was a panel discussion with Muslim speakers, which took place on the final day.

The event started with a Mass by Apostolic Nuncio to Malaysia, Archbishop Joseph Marino, who expressed his appreciation for the Religious, while inviting them to be “creative and versatile” in attending to both the human and spiritual needs of those they serve.
They encourage all Christians to put aside differences, stand up for the defenceless during Christian Unity Week services
From left: Fr John Joseph Fenelon (Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea), Msgr Philip Heng (Vicar General, Ecumenical Relations), Major Lim Chee Kwee (Salvation Army), Rev Fr Abey Chacko (St Thomas Orthodox Syrian Cathedral), Rev Shibu P Varghese (Mar Thoma Syrian Church), Rev Malcolm Tan (Covenant Community Methodist Church), Rev Martin Jungnickels (St John’s-St Margaret’s Church), Rev Fr Greger R Kollanoor (St Mary’s Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Cathedral) and Rev Jacob Johnson (Church of South India Congregation).From left: Fr John Joseph Fenelon (Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea), Msgr Philip Heng (Vicar General, Ecumenical Relations), Major Lim Chee Kwee (Salvation Army), Rev Fr Abey Chacko (St Thomas Orthodox Syrian Cathedral), Rev Shibu P Varghese (Mar Thoma Syrian Church), Rev Malcolm Tan (Covenant Community Methodist Church), Rev Martin Jungnickels (St John’s-St Margaret’s Church), Rev Fr Greger R Kollanoor (St Mary’s Jacobite Syrian Orthodox Cathedral) and Rev Jacob Johnson (Church of South India Congregation).“There should be better communication between pastors and laity regarding services like this. There could also be intra-faith games or a friendship day, so that we can play together, pray together and serve together,” said Mr Mun Loon Lai, 30, from the Yishun Methodist Mission.

“I noticed that today’s service was so solemn. I feel that it should be done differently by having lots of praise and worship. That will get everyone including the youths excited,” said 21-year-old Jabez Tan, from the Convenant Evangelical Free Church, who attended the third service.