OCTOBER 04, 2015, Vol 65, No 20

GEORGETOWN, MALAYSIA – Br Anthony Rogers (left), director of the La Salle Brothers in  Malaysia, was conferred the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri (DSPN), which carries the title “Dato”, in conjunction with the 77th birthday of the Yang Dipertua Negeri of Penang, Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas.

The conferment was in recognition of the Lasallian contribution to education in Malaysia. The investiture ceremony was held on Saturday, Sept 5, in Penang.

Dr Chen Shiling with husband Liam at the health screening of clients from the Association for Persons with Special Needs Centre for Adults.Dr Chen Shiling with husband Liam at the health screening of clients from the Association for Persons with Special Needs Centre for Adults.
Led by God, Dr Chen Shiling felt a calling to minister to the community

On her first day as a volunteer with a group of intellectually disabled (ID) children and adults, 17-year-old Chen Shiling was so frightened that she decided she was never coming back.

Yet she found herself inexplicably drawn to them before the day ended. So for the next six years, she returned every Sunday to interact and help out at MINDS (Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore) Youth Group.

She took a break from volunteering after graduating from the National University of Singapore at age 23 but connected with MINDS again five years ago. By then she had become a medical doctor.

Dr Chen told CatholicNews, “That year I felt very strongly that there was something out there in the community for me. So I went back to MINDS and said to them, “I’m a doctor now. What can I do for you?”
Belgian Fr Paul Staes Scheut MissionsBelgian Fr Paul Staes Scheut MissionsWhen was the last time you had fun?
This question sounds as if “having fun” is something of a special achievement, like a football player scoring a hat-trick. If it refers to enjoying myself, I can say that I truly enjoy most of what I do, by choice or by assignment.

Name an occasion you felt embarrassed/humiliated.
When I was desperately looking for a toilet in a Toa Payoh mall, I ended up with smelly pants and in need of a thorough clean-up. Diminished control: side-effect of my recent radiation therapy for prostate cancer. I now travel around with “spare underwear”.

Name an occasion/incident when you felt God was far away.
It’s not so much a question of feeling God far away but, rather, that at times I find myself not living in a close relationship with the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit. This happens when I’m concerned mainly about my own preferences or likes and dislikes.

What has sustained your life as a Religious, especially in the face of challenges/changes?
Closeness to the people I’m called to serve. As religious missionaries, we CICM often end up not living in a community of confreres, not even in a community at all. Nevertheless closeness to people is our crucial support.
Q: Is it proper to have a tea ceremony at or after a Catholic church wedding?

A: Weddings are joyful times when families come together to celebrate a special moment in the lives of their children. The Church recognises this special moment and sees it as a blessing and the fulfilment of the God-given vocation to life and to love.

The Church has always supported the inculturation of the Christian faith to local cultures. Even in marriage, the Church recognises that local cultures are expressions of this joyful occasion and encourages a tasteful inculturation of the celebrations.
Therefore, it is permissible, for example, for an Indian couple to include in the exchange of rings a further expression of this commitment by the tying of the thali. This is the gold thread which the groom ties to the neck of the bride.

Similarly, in Chinese culture, the tea ceremony is one beautiful element that couples, while celebrating the gift of marriage in a Catholic ceremony, may also express it towards their elders as a sign of filial piety and love. The commandment to honour parents is in turn a call for blessing upon the children in their marriage, and on their future children that God may bless them with.
Questions on the Faith is a new column for you to have your questions answered by authorities on various topics. Just email your question to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and include your full name, address and contact number. All decisions on submissions rest with those answering the questions. Published submissions will be edited.
Q: When do we address our prayers to God, to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit?

A: On the matter of prayer, St John Damascene said that “prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God”. Drawing from the words of Christ, the writings of Scripture and the saints, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are gifted with prayers grounded in Christian tradition.

Through prayer, God invites His chosen ones into a relationship with Him that is both personal and communal. He speaks to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, the Word-made-flesh, and He inspires us through the Holy Spirit.

Thus prayer is our response to God who is already speaking or, better yet, revealing Himself to us. Therefore, prayer is not merely an exchange of words, but it engages the whole person in a relationship with God the Father, through the Son, and in the Holy Spirit.

It is this realisation that God Himself is worthy of prayer and God is a Trinity of persons. Therefore, it would seem fair to say that we can pray to each member of the Godhead.
Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at the Church of the Holy Trinity.Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at the Church of the Holy Trinity.

More than 200 Catholics gathered  on Sept 5 at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Tampines to attend the Holy Hour, where
they reflected on their spiritual journey.

The Holy Hour was part of a vocational event, held in celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The event was jointly organised by the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary and the Holy Trinity Youth Ministry.

It aimed to guide Catholics in seeking better insights into their vocation, and to open their hearts and minds to God’s calling. Guests of honour included Msgr Ambrose Vaz and seminarians.

The theme of the event was “Come and follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”.

Starting with an opening prayer and hymn, the Holy Hour continued with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, and a reading from Mark 1:16-20. The congregation then had moments of reflective silence to re-examine their vocational calling and their relationship with God. The event continued with the Novena,  adoration and benediction.
Lay Canossians and Canossian Sisters at the celebration at the Canossian Provincialate.Lay Canossians and Canossian Sisters at the celebration at the Canossian Provincialate.

Ninety-nine members from the Association of Lay Canossians gathered together with the Canossian Sisters to celebrate the Feast Day of Our Lady of Sorrows on Sept 12.

The celebration marked the 50th anniversary of the the association in Singapore. Several lay Canossians from Hong Kong and Malaysia were also present.

The celebration, which took place at the Canossian Provincialate at Jalan Merbok, started with an address by Sr Theresa Seow, the provincial leader of the Canossian Sisters. She congratulated the lay Canossians for their growth in Singapore, Myanmar and Fujian, China.
“The number of lay Canossians in the world is even bigger than that of the Canossian Sisters; we should be proud and thank God for the gift of charism to make Jesus known so that He will be loved,” said Sr Theresa.

She suggested that lay Canossians take time to reflect on how they wanted to move forward in sharing the Canossian charism with others.
Teachers, family and friends gathered to celebrate Teachers’ Day Mass led by Msgr Ambrose Vaz on Sept 12.Teachers, family and friends gathered to celebrate Teachers’ Day Mass led by Msgr Ambrose Vaz on Sept 12.

Close to 200 Catholic educators, school staff, family, and friends gathered to commemorate Teachers’ Day at a specially organised Mass held on Sept 12.

Organised by the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS), the Eucharistic celebration took place at Catholic High School, and was celebrated by Msgr Ambrose Vaz, Fr Edward Seah and Fr Adrian Danker.

In his homily, Msgr Vaz reaffirmed the identity and mission of Catholic educators as he drew parallels to the gospel, in which Jesus asks His disciples, “Who do people say I am?”

Msgr Vaz explained that there is often a popular opinion of the identity of the Messiah, who is seen as “a powerful figure; in terms of earthly, political, even military power”, as compared to the identity of the Messiah according to God.

He elaborated, “The disciples had got the terminology right, that Jesus is the Messiah.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we draw to a close the year consecrated to Mary, Star of the New Evangelisation, let us reflect on where we are at in our efforts for the New Evangelisation and how we are to move ahead.
There is no doubt that we are living in tumultuous times of extremes. The pendulum has swung from secularisation, individualism and atheism on the one hand, to religious fundamentalism fuelling war and refugee exodus on the other.

Led by the Holy Spirit, our Mother Church has issued an urgent call to her members to be missionary disciples to stem these threats. This is only possible if we become the “salt and light of the world”,
as the Lord has called us to be.

This ultimately involves a renewal of faith among all Catholics – clergy and laity alike. We cannot be missionary unless we ourselves are first “converted” and then undertake the ongoing process of becoming missionary disciples so that we can evangelise the rest of humanity by being involved in the world, whether in culture, economics, politics, ecology, media, education, science and technology. For the Gospel of life must permeate every dimension of human life.

The New Evangelisation is thus the thrust of the Universal Catholic Church and not just a personal vision. In proposing my 10-year plan for the archdiocese, I have met with some resistance and opposition; and to say the least, indifference and reluctance.
Paris Foreign Missions Society Fr Michael Arro is featured in the latest vocational booklet by the CatholicNews.Paris Foreign Missions Society Fr Michael Arro is featured in the latest vocational booklet by the CatholicNews.
Fr Michael Arro is the third priest to be featured in a series of vocation booklets published and distributed by the CatholicNews.

In his inimitable way, he responded candidly to a range of questions posed by the CatholicNews. Among other things, he spoke about his days as a professor at the Penang College General while Vatican Council II was taking place in Rome, his occupation had he not become a priest, and the qualities priests today must cultivate.

Saying he felt “unjustly done by” to be called to teach in Latin when he had just finished learning Mandarin after two years, he nevertheless found his teaching years very fruitful, especially since the Vatican Council was taking place during that time.

Fr Arro recalled, “We were a group of young professors – six of us in our early 30s – and we were really enthusiastic about the Council. It was a renewal for all of us.”

The Paris Foreign Missions Society (MEP) priest added that his years at the seminary in Penang, while Vatican II was going on, allowed him to be able to speak of the Council and be inspired by it up to the present.

On the career he would have chosen had he not become a missionary priest, he said “I think I would have enjoyed being a farmer. I like animals very much.”

How about the qualities priests should cultivate? Find out for yourself in the vocation booklet being sold with this issue of CatholicNews.
Forgiveness is the only way, says archbishop at Fr Arotcarena’s memorial Mass

Archbishop William Goh speaking at the memorial Mass for Fr Guillaume Arotcarena (inset) on Sept 18. Archbishop William Goh speaking at the memorial Mass for Fr Guillaume Arotcarena (inset) on Sept 18.

During a memorial Mass for the late French priest Fr Guillaume Arotcarena, Archbishop William Goh praised him for championing the rights of migrant workers and his compassion towards the poor and marginalised.

“The Church is proud of all of those people who have contributed their time, their resources and their energy in the work of serving the poor,” Archbishop Goh told the 400-strong crowd at the Church of the Holy Family on Sept 18. “By so doing they have done justice to the spreading of the Gospel.”

Paris Foreign Missions priest Fr Arotcarena passed away in France on Sept 3 after a three-year battle with cancer. He was 71.

He arrived in Singapore in 1972 and served here for 17 years. In 1980, he founded the Geylang Catholic Centre to provide support and social services to foreign domestic workers, prisoners and drug addicts.

Fr Antoni Ponnudurai, SJ (1932 - 2015)Fr Antoni Ponnudurai, SJ (1932 - 2015)Fr Antoni Ponnudurai, SJ of the Kingsmead Jesuit community in Singapore has passed away. He had been admitted to hospital after a heart attack on 17 September 2015 and returned to the Lord in the early morning of 23 September 2015. He was 83.

Fr Ponnudurai was born on 22 March 1932 as the eldest of five children. He entered the Jesuit novitiate in Madurai, India at the age of 19 and was ordained a priest on 19 March 1964. He professed his final vows as a Jesuit six years later. Fr Ponnudurai served in Mauritius and Medan before he was sent to serve the Malaysian Tamil-speaking communities in 1978. After ten years as the parish priest of the Church of Our Lady of Fatima, Kuala Lumpur, Fr Ponnudurai was sent to Singapore to minister to the Church of St Ignatius and the apostolate of Tamil-speaking Catholics in Singapore.

In 1990, Fr Ponnudurai was transcribed from Madurai Province where he had received his formation and ordination, to Macau-Hong Kong Province as a member of the Dependent Region of Malaysia-Singapore. He also served in a number of Jesuit offices, including being a member of the Consult of the Malaysia-Singapore Region, Regional Treasurer, and the Socius to the regional Novice Master.