Religious and laypeople attend a special Mass held at St Joseph’s Church, Victoria Street, on Nov 29.
Religious, priests and laypeople singing together at the opening for the special Mass on Nov 29. Religious, priests and laypeople singing together at the opening for the special Mass on Nov 29.

In the presence of Religious and priests, the Archdiocese of Singapore celebrated a Mass dedicated to the Year of Consecrated Life on Nov 29.

Archbishop William Goh,  who was the main celebrant at the Mass at St Joseph’s Church , Victoria Street, said in his homily that in order to proclaim the Good News, Religious have to “radiate joy”.
He gave four indicators of how Religious can tell if they are joyful, consecrated persons.

Firstly, they need to “experience this yearning of intimacy with the Lord”, he said to about 200 Religious present.

Archbishop Goh then asked them if they truly believed “that Jesus makes a difference in your life”. If not, “how are we going to share that Jesus has made a difference in other peoples’ lives?”Archbishop William Goh delivering his homily. Archbishop William Goh delivering his homily.

For the third indicator, Archbishop Goh asked all Religious if they were men and women of charity, and in communion with the Lord.

Do you have a “desire to reach out to them [laypeople] in love?” he asked.

The archbishop added that Religious “cannot reach out to others if we don’t experience love”.

Lastly, “are we restless and excited to share Jesus with others?” Archbishop Goh asked.

As Religious are human beings too, Archbishop Goh said that they might sometimes think that their Religious duties might be “a burden”, or “a job”.

But the root of the issue, is the fact that “we don’t spend sufficient time contemplating the Word.” 

God “supplies everything because He loves us”, he said. 

He noted that Religious have taken “the vow of obedience” because you only “want to do God’s will and nothing else”.

Archbishop Goh also addressed Religious who might have lost sight of why they embraced their vocations. “How do we recover this joy?” he asked them.

“We need to reconsecrate ourselves to the Lord,” he said.

Archbishop Goh also emphasised the need for all Religious to pray fervently. He shared that he spends at least three hours in the morning praying.

He also added that Religious need to experience the “joy of community life”.

“When everyone prays fervently, the Church will grow by leaps and bounds,” Archbishop Goh said.

Then speaking to the laypeople, he asked them to “pray for us” in the priestly and Religious life, “for the mistakes we have done, and forgive us”.

CatholicNews spoke to a few Religious after the Mass.

Brother of Mercy Ambrose Heng said that the event was “great because of the coming together as one family. It is like one reunion, a big reunion. We never get this type of opportunity to come together with one common vision.

The bishop said to love, to be with the people. That’s what it is.”

Canossian Sr Christine Santhou said, “we have come to serve in God’s name and we seek to do our best in our capacity. At the same time, we are an ageing population in many ways. So as time goes on, it doesn’t get any easier but we do our best.”   

Franciscan Br Xavier Chung, who considers himself “young in the Religious life”, said the Mass was very empowering and affirming. He added that “it’s a good reminder that we should always connect with God. No matter how busy we are, we must spend time with Him. If not we’ll be a social worker. A consecrated social worker.”

The Mass was “a way to celebrate and thank God for calling our vocation as Religious and to celebrate together with priests, Religious and also the lay people as a family of the Church,” said Sr Mary Soh from the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary.

“Our life is not meant to be a burden. It’s meant to give joy and love to people, and to bring others to love the Lord,” she added.

By Lorna O’Hara
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See related stories on Pages 15, 20 and 21.

Related article: Archbishop's homily during Opening Mass for Year Of Consecrated Life
Religious, priests and laypeople singing together at the opening for the special Mass on Nov 29.

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