The faith life of Catholic families in Singapore is sadly inadequate. And this deficiency pervades all stages of family life – from the school-going and teenage periods to the young adult and parenting years.
This is the stark finding of a survey conducted by the Archdiocesan Commission for the Family (ACF) in conjunction with the Archdiocesan Catholic Family Dialogue held last October.
Four key areas were identified: the prayer life of the individual and family, relevance of God in people’s lives, the responsibility of faith formation, and living out marriage as a sacrament.
Mr James Wong, ACF executive director, cited the causes according to the survey: secular activities pulling members in different directions, a lack of a prayer habit, and parents not being adequate models and teachers.
“Why have we reduced God in our lives? Affluence and self-reliance are two likely reasons,” suggested Mr Wong.
According to ACF, progressive societies have shown that a neglect of religious values usually leads to the erosion of societal values, which can then result in the breakdown of a people’s moral fabric.
“And sadly, the most affected casualty is usually the family,” said Dr John Hui, ACF chairman.
“As Catholics, it’s good to ask ourselves what priority we give to growing our faith, so as to preserve and nourish family life. And if there are practical challenges like inadequate faith formation, how we can seek ways to overcome them.”
ACF has been in touch with parish priests on the survey results. It plans to work with diocesan agencies to provide and strengthen ongoing faith formation and vocational enhancement programmes, such as those on better parenting and marriage enrichment.
Several committees have been formed by ACF to address these issues. One development is the formation of Parish Engagement Teams, which will help parishes without a family life group (FLG) set up one over the next few months.
A Family Life Team Clinic was scheduled on May 23 at the Catholic Archdiocesan Education Centre to help parishes form FLGs.
“The broad plan is for ACF to collaborate with these parish FLGs to accompany families and family members in their faith cum life’s journey,” explained Dr Hui. “The vision is to work towards an evangelical parish community that will help families become fully alive in God,”
Talks and forums such as Catholic Parenting in the New Evangelisation, which will address practical topics like interfaith or mixed-marriage parenting, are being planned.
A seminar titled Understanding the Church’s Teachings on Divorces, Separations and Annulments is scheduled for July 25, and aims to help Catholics manage their special familial circumstances and still be in communion with the Church.
Another seminar early next year is being planned around St John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, which teaches the beauty of God’s plan for sexuality.
In the meantime, ongoing marriage preparation and enrichment programmes are being reinforced to address relationship issues in today’s context.
ACF says its members will continue to dialogue and consult with families and other family life agencies to review and enhance its programmes so that they can be relevant in Singapore’s changing social landscape.
“All these are designed to provide support in each stage of life’s journey. And hopefully by the grace of God, the outcome will be stronger and happier families,” said Mr Wong.
|ACF ACTION PLANS AT A GLANCE|
The ACF website is http://catholicfamily.org.sg/