Hopes for it to come alive with activities, religious celebrations catering to a wide range of people
The restored Cathedral of the Good Shepherd must be a vibrant place hosting various religious celebrations, and reaching out to youth, the elderly, migrants and expatriates. Catholics from more well-off parishes have a duty to financially support the archdiocese’s “Mother Church”.
These were some salient points made by Archbishop William Goh during a fundraising dinner for the cathedral on Nov 6. Some 430 people attended the event held at The Fullerton Hotel.
“The rectory is almost ready and the main church due for completion next year,” said Archbishop Goh. “One thing is clear for me as the bishop. The cathedral cannot remain as it was before it was renovated, in terms of pastoral engagement, in terms of pastoral activities.”
He said the most important consideration is “how we can regain the cathedral’s status as the ‘mother’, teacher and heart of the Church’s work of evangelisation and liturgical celebrations”.
Firstly, it must be “a welcoming place for everyone … Catholics and non-Catholics alike, rich and poor, young and old”, he said. The cathedral must therefore offer “catechesis, formation, information, guidance and counselling to those who need help, advice and instruction”.
Secondly, he would like the cathedral to have “more devotional and liturgical celebrations to enhance and reinvigorate the spiritual life of our people”.
“We want all the sacraments to be celebrated occasionally at the cathedral because she is the Mother Church,” he said.
Archbishop Goh added that he looks forward to having Holy Hours, adoration, popular devotions and praise and worship meetings at the cathedral. He hopes the cathedral could eventually provide “regular confessions throughout the day for those who need to be freed of their sins and guilt”.
Archbishop Goh also stressed that he would like the cathedral “to be vibrant with activities for youths”.
“The cathedral, being at the centre of the city, and situated at the node of youth activities, including SMU [Singapore Management University], we are well placed to reach out to them,” he stressed.
“I hope too that the cathedral can be a place for elderly,” he shared, adding that he hopes it can be a place where they “can gather together to share their faith, to share their lives” and to find support.
The cathedral must also be a place for migrants and expatriates. “Our migrants must feel welcomed, experience a sense of place in our local Church so that they in turn can look after their own people from a different culture and language,” he said.
It should also be a place where the poor are “tended to”.
“Without outreach to the poor, the Church would fail in being the mother of mercy,” he said, adding that the cathedral could work “with some established institutions” in this area.
Archbishop Goh also voiced concern about the operational costs of the cathedral, which will be fully air-conditioned and will include a heritage centre. “With no parishioners, only a transient population comprising the occasional tourist, migrant workers and expatriates, a handful of helpers from all over the island … how is the Mother Church ever going to be able to sustain the operational costs?” he asked.
All Catholics from better off parishes “have a duty to help other Catholic communities, especially the poorer parishes … including the cathedral”, he said.
“The failure to support the cathedral is an indictment of all Catholics because when others see how the Mother Church is neglected and abandoned, they would think that we are all very individualistic … and also demonstrates the lack of unity among Catholics, which the cathedral is supposed to symbolise.”
Mr Lim Boon Heng, chairman of the fundraising organising committee, noted in his speech that the restoration project has been “full of ups and downs”.
In early September, a pediment at the side of the cathedral collapsed but no one was injured.
He also noted that Jesuit Msgr Philip Heng is now taking over the cathedral duties from Fr Adrian Anthony, who is coping with health issues at present.
The event also saw the launch of a commemorative book on the cathedral titled I Am The Good Shepherd, and the presentation of a cheque of more than $5 million to Archbishop Goh.
The cathedral fundraising committee told CatholicNews another $4 million is needed to complete the renovation and construction works, out of the project cost of $40 million. An estimated additional $4 million is needed to fully furnish and equip the facilities for full operations.
The committee said the restoration is expected to be completed in the third quarter of next year.
To donate to the restoration project, click here to download the form.
Archbishop Goh’s written speech is at http://www.catholic.org.sg/messages/speech-at-fundraising-cgs/
By Christopher Khoo