Archbishop Goh talks about relating to the elderly at the opening ceremony
of the Villa Francis Home for the Aged
Archbishop William Goh chatting with the home’s most senior resident, Madam Yap Twin Puck, who is 102 years old. Photo: JOSE VIVEN C BALSOMOArchbishop William Goh chatting with the home’s most senior resident, Madam Yap Twin Puck, who is 102 years old. Photo: JOSE VIVEN C BALSOMO

“Loneliness is the greatest sickness of affluent countries”, said Archbishop William Goh.

Lonely elderly people “always tell me one thing”, he said. “The greatest pain is not that they don’t have the luxuries of life. They are looking for the most basic thing – love.”

Archbishop Goh was speaking at the official opening ceremony of the Villa Francis Home for the Aged on May 16.

Addressing a crowd of hundreds gathered at the Canossian-run home in Yishun, he warned them to be careful not to embrace “the mentality of the world – that the person is only acceptable, important, if he or she is productive”.

“To look after the elderly and the sick is a great challenge,” he told the crowd which included representatives of other faiths.
Archbishop Goh, Dr Lam Pin Min (on archbishop’s right) and Catholic Welfare Services chairman Thomas Tan cutting the ribbon. Photo: JAMES CHIAArchbishop Goh, Dr Lam Pin Min (on archbishop’s right) and Catholic Welfare Services chairman Thomas Tan cutting the ribbon. Photo: JAMES CHIA

“Elderly people are difficult to handle because sometimes they are very grumpy… Why? Because they are wounded,” he said.

“They feel that society has done them wrong. They have given so much to society and the family. Now that they are old, we abandon them. It is the humiliation they are going through.”

The challenge for Villa Francis is to make it a home “where the elderly feel loved and cared for… The distinguishing mark of a Catholic nursing home is that we provide them with that love, that community,” he said.

Archbishop Goh also stressed that “the greatest gift we can give [the elderly] is the gift of faith. Faith brings hope. When there is no hope, there is no reason to live.”Residents performing a Hokkien song for guests with help from staff.Residents performing a Hokkien song for guests with help from staff.

Archbishop Goh, together with special guest, Dr Lam Pin Min, Minister of State for Health, were later taken on a tour of the nine-storey building, where they chatted with some of the home’s more than 200 residents.

One highlight of the event was a special performance put on by some residents who sang songs such as The Moon Represents My Heart by the late Taiwanese singer Teresa Teng.

Villa Francis moved from its original site in Mandai to Yishun in 2013.

For more information on Villa Francis, visit  http://villafrancis.org.sg/

By Christopher Khoo
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