APRIL 17, 2016, Vol 66, No 08

A church columbarium. Going to a physical place where loved ones are respectfully interred helps us to make that all important connection with them.A church columbarium. Going to a physical place where loved ones are respectfully interred helps us to make that all important connection with them.Q: During Bible Study, we discussed what our resurrected bodies would look like and this led to the subject of Catholic burial. Some of us do not understand the Catholic Church’s stand that the cremated ashes of a Catholic can only be kept or deposited on holy ground which today means in a church columbarium. It rules out sea burial or the quiet, respectful deposit of ashes in a natural spot that has special significance to the deceased.

If we are all God’s creatures and the whole of creation belongs to God, then isn’t every place God’s place and therefore holy? If for some reason places are deemed to have been made unholy, doesn’t it just takes the power of our Christian prayers, delivered through a priest performing traditional church rituals similar to those performed at columbariums, to restore the original state of holiness and hence make the burial acceptable?


Keeping ashes in a porcelain jar in a columbarium does not fulfil the “ashes to ashes” idea. How long can a church keep on storing ones ashes? Certainly not beyond the time when the money runs out, when all niches are full and no more income is forthcoming.
Benedictine Fr Laurence Freeman offers a reflection for the Easter season

The Risen Christ is depicted in the painting, Resurrection, by 15th-century Italian master Andrea Mantegna. CNS photoThe Risen Christ is depicted in the painting, Resurrection, by 15th-century Italian master Andrea Mantegna. CNS photo
My favourite reading in the Easter Season – and perhaps of all time – is by an anonymous “ancient author” in the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday. It is the Risen Jesus speaking to us on this strange day of waiting between the Cross and the Resurrection. He says: “I am in you and you are in me and together we form one undivided person. Nothing can separate us.”

I find this so moving. It takes us to the heart of Christian faith, our deepest and unbreakable union with Jesus in love – in the power of the Father who brought Him back from the dead so that He could breathe the Holy Spirit into the human heart. It also shows us that Christianity is a mystical religion and explains why all Christians need to be contemplatives.

It is always sad to meet fellow Christians whose faith stops at the levels of morality and dogma. These are important aspects of Christian life but they are not the whole picture. If we get stuck at moralism and dogmatic orthodoxy alone, our Christianity will shrivel. If we don’t get out of our head and into our heart – the “inner room” – we may even end up as fundamentalists rather than – like Jesus – universalists. Then we would have nothing to offer a world hungering for depth and meaning and which we need to communicate with a conviction born of experience.
‘When I’m able to re-integrate my boys back into society or with their families, that’s reward in itself,’ says Br Collin Wee, seen here cutting the hair of a HopeHouse resident in this file photo. ‘When I’m able to re-integrate my boys back into society or with their families, that’s reward in itself,’ says Br Collin Wee, seen here cutting the hair of a HopeHouse resident in this file photo.
It was an unusual experience to say the least, visiting a boy at a dump site in Singapore.

“His father and mother had abandoned him and he found a place to temporarily sleep at the rubbish dump,” recalled La Salle Br Collin Wee, 58.

“We eventually got him to stay at HopeHouse where he finished his N-levels and ITE education. He is now serving in the police force.”

That was a few years ago.

As a La Salle Religious, part of Br Collin’s work is ministering to delinquent youth. Most of his work is done in HopeHouse, a shelter for boys who are homeless, abandoned by their families or without a family. It is located on the grounds of St Patrick’s School on East Coast Road.

It is this desire to serve the less fortunate in Singapore that prompted Br Collin to join the La Salle Brothers.
‘The community is a source of strength and struggle. I am reminded daily to love, forgive and to develop a sense of companionship with my Sisters.’ – Sr Francisca Tan, a Cenacle Sister for the past 29 years‘The community is a source of strength and struggle. I am reminded daily to love, forgive and to develop a sense of companionship with my Sisters.’ – Sr Francisca Tan, a Cenacle Sister for the past 29 years
“Religious life is a way of life, a life that is free and allows for growth and maturity. It is not easy, but it is worth it,” said Cenacle Sr Francisca Tan.

This was her advice to those thinking of joining the Religious life. “People think joining a Religious means giving up so many things, but it is not. It is about embracing yourself and God’s call,” said the 63-year-old nun.

Sr Francisca said her own journey towards joining the Cenacle Sisters began in her early 30s and was filled with many twists and turns.

In 1983, a team of Cenacle Sisters and Jesuit priests from the Philippines came to Singapore to conduct training programmes on spiritual formation and direction.

Sr Francisca was then a catechist at the Church of St Teresa and she recalled driving the Religious around Singapore. “I was bringing them around for sightseeing and shopping and it was then I began to become curious about their vocations,” she said.

The following year, she decided to attend her first three-day silent retreat in Singapore conducted by the Cenacle Sisters.
Fr Henry Siew will be releasing a booklet called Encountering the Lord in Daily Life (below) to help people pray and build a relationship with Jesus. Fr Henry Siew will be releasing a booklet called Encountering the Lord in Daily Life (below) to help people pray and build a relationship with Jesus.

Inspired by his 25 years of priestly service to the Church, Fr Henry Siew says he will be releasing a prayer booklet called Encountering the Lord in Daily Life.

The booklet contains three different prayers – Consciousness Examen, Lectio Divina and Imaginative Contemplation.

Consciousness Examen is becoming aware of God’s presence in one’s daily activities. Lectio Divina and Imaginative Contemplation both involve the use of scripture for meditation.

The booklet, to be released in April, will be pocket-sized as Fr Henry wanted them to be “readily available and something that people can carry around”.

It will be available in English and Mandarin to those attending the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of which he is parish priest.
New Catholics who joined the Church at the recent Easter vigil share their faith journeys with Jared Ng

Mr Choo Poh Choon, who uses a wheelchair, with his wife, Bibianna. Mr Choo Poh Choon, who uses a wheelchair, with his wife, Bibianna. Finding God in a visit to St Peter’s Basilica

It was during a tour in Italy on their honeymoon in 2010 when Mr Choo Poh Choon and his wife, Bibianna, first experienced the “calmness and peace” of the Catholic Church.

One of the stops during the tour brought them to St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.

“We were told it would be crowded inside but it wasn’t that bad. We felt really peaceful when we walked in,” said Mr Choo, 35, who uses a wheelchair.

He sustained spinal injuries during National Service which paralysed him from the waist down.

The couple said that a few years later, they had another “calling”.

On one occasion, when Mr Choo – who represented Singapore in basketball at the ASEAN Para Games in December – was having his sports training near Novena, his wife decided to attend a service at Novena Church.
A look at the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning of Resources team’s work in realising the local Church’s pastoral vision

Archbishop Goh is seen here with members of the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning of Resources team including Msgr Philip Heng, Vicar General of Administration and Finance (on archbishop’s right); Mr Lim Boon Heng (chairman, on archbishop’s left) and Mr Peter Seah (vice-chairman, beside Mr Lim). Photo: VITA PHOTOArchbishop Goh is seen here with members of the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning of Resources team including Msgr Philip Heng, Vicar General of Administration and Finance (on archbishop’s right); Mr Lim Boon Heng (chairman, on archbishop’s left) and Mr Peter Seah (vice-chairman, beside Mr Lim). Photo: VITA PHOTO

Many Catholics would have heard of Archbishop William Goh’s archdiocesan pastoral vision and mission of “Building an Evangelical and Missionary Church” during his episcopal ordination.


According to Msgr Philip Heng, Vicar General of Administration and Finance, there was no lack of enthusiasm from priests, Religious, Catholic organisations, lay leaders, volunteers and the like, who wanted to be part of this “history making” time of the archdiocese.

However, after six months or so after the launch, reality set in. Msgr Heng told CatholicNews he encountered the constant challenge of the archdiocese not having sufficient resources – funds, land, buildings and personnel – to realise the archbishop’s vision.

Clearly, a strategy was needed for the use and increase of Church resources for the short, middle and long terms. The archbishop’s 10-year pastoral plan (of which three years have gone by) must be supported and strengthened by coordinated strategic analyses, inclusive consultations and comprehensive plans, said Msgr Heng.

However, to put this in place was a complex and daunting task, needing time and the right people in the right positions.
christian communitiesMsgr Philip Heng (far left) speaking to members of the various Christian churches and communities.

Archbishop William Goh speaking to members of the Methodist community at Barker Road Methodist Centre.Archbishop William Goh speaking to members of the Methodist community at Barker Road Methodist Centre.

How do we reach out to those who rely not on God, but on science and reason to make choices in their lives.

This was one question posed to Archbishop William Goh during the question-and-answer segment of the Trinity Annual Conference held at Barker Road Methodist Centre on March 31.

Archbishop Goh was invited by the Methodist community to speak on the topic Inter-Faith Relationship: Peace Making And Bridge Building.

“Normally for people with no religion, I will push them to ask ultimate questions: ‘What is the purpose of life? Why are we here? What happens after death?’” replied Archbishop Goh.

“Reason can tell you the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. Only faith can tell you the ‘why’.”
In the last quarter of this year, the Archdiocesan Commission for the Family (ACF) will launch the Couple Mentor Journey (CMJ) in which couples who have been married for at least five years are paired with young couples to support them with the former’s own experiences.

This will take place after the engaged couples’ initial formation in Engaged Encounter or Marriage Preparation Course.

“CMJ is meant to augment these two programmes and not replace them,” explained Ms Caroline Theseira, the co-project coordinator. “Young couples see a need for such a model because of the gap between marriage preparation and the next appropriate course, Marriage Encounter, meant for couples who are married after about two years.”

According to ACF, there are two dimensions to the programme. The accompaniment part focuses on the journey together, and provides the support when various issues arise. The second dimension seeks to form couples using short video lessons on the sacramentality of marriage, integrated with contemporary relationship psychology.

Archbishop talks about the impact of unfair criticism and lack of appreciation in the lives of priests

Archbishop Goh celebrates the Chrism Mass with priests of the archdiocese on Maundy Thursday morning. Photos: VITA IMAGESArchbishop Goh celebrates the Chrism Mass with priests of the archdiocese on Maundy Thursday morning. Photos: VITA IMAGES

During the annual Chrism Mass, Archbishop William Goh highlighted why priests sometimes lose their passion for their ministry, and what they can do to address this.

“When we were newly ordained,” said Archbishop Goh, “we were full of joy and excitement.”

However, over time this joy can slowly fade, “and that is very sad”, he told priests of the archdiocese, Religious and laypeople gathered at St Joseph’s Church, Victoria St, on Maundy Thursday morning.

The first reason why priests lose their “passion and enthusiasm” is because “we take our vocation for granted”, he said in his homily.

“What is considered a privilege over time becomes a duty” and “routine sets in”, he told the crowd, which spilled out of the church and into the car park.

Archbishop Goh visited four parishes over Holy Week and Easter.  Here’s a look in photos.

Archbishop Goh washes the feet of Church of the Holy Cross parishioners, including women, on Maundy Thursday. Photo: VITA IMAGESArchbishop Goh washes the feet of Church of the Holy Cross parishioners, including women, on Maundy Thursday. Photo: VITA IMAGES
The Archdiocesan Commission for the Family (ACF) invited its Family Partners (FPs) to a networking lunch event on March 19.The event, held at the Catholic Archdiocesan Education Centre (CAEC), was attended by 56 representatives of ACF’s Family Partners and board members.

The event was part of ACF’s efforts in responding to a pastoral letter issued at the beginning of the year by Archbishop William Goh.

In it, he highlighted that the Church is called to be a sacrament of love and unity in the world: “Indeed, the goal of evangelisation is communion,” Archbishop Goh said.

“If our mission is to bring all into communion with each other in love and unity through our fellowship with the Holy Trinity, then we must seek every means to preserve, protect and foster communion in our workplace, Church ministries, organisations, parishes and archdiocesan bodies.”
Pope Francis’ message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, April 17



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is my great hope that, during the course of this Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, all the baptised may experience the joy of belong- ing to the Church and rediscover that the Christian vocation, just like every particu- lar vocation, is born from within the People of God, and is a gift of divine mercy. The Church is the house of mercy, and it is the “soil” where vocations take root, mature and bear fruit. For this reason, on the occasion of the 53rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I invite all of you to reflect upon the apostolic community, and to give thanks for the role of the community in each person’s voca- tional journey.
 
In the Bull of Indiction for the Extraordi- nary Jubilee of Mercy, I recalled the words of the venerable St Bede, describing the call of St Matthew: “Miserando atque eligendo” (Misericordiae Vultus, 8). The Lord’s mer- ciful action forgives our sins and opens us to the new life which takes shape in the call to discipleship and mission. Each vocation in the Church has its origin in the compas- sionate gaze of Jesus. Conversion and voca- tion are two sides of the same coin, and con- tinually remain interconnected throughout the whole of the missionary disciple’s life.

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