Held annually around the world on Dec 1, this year’s World AIDS Day Mass was celebrated at the Church of St Vincent de Paul.
Among the 1,000 people who attended the Mass on Nov 29 were members and volunteers of Catholic AIDS Response Effort (CARE) and residents from the shelter home operated by the charity.
The event was organised by CARE, a Catholic Charity under Caritas Singapore, which cares for and supports people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs).
In his homily, CARE spiritual director Fr Kenson Koh reminded Catholics to be watchful.
In the context of HIV/AIDS, Catholics need to root out the causes of the disease but at the same time watch that they do not fall victim to the common and sinful response of discrimination and prejudice.
Fr Kenson stressed that discrimination and prejudice against PLWHAs is not something Jesus would do, and that it is not Christian behaviour to identify the activity with the person.
He concluded his homily by inviting the congregation to find out more about HIV/AIDS and understand the issues faced by PLWHAs, so that they can embrace people with AIDS in friendship.
In conjunction with the event, CARE staff and volunteers were present over the weekend at the church to speak to parishioners about the work the charity does for PLWHAs in Singapore.
They also sold items such as rosaries, candles and crucifixes made by CARE residents.
Sarah, 35, a parishioner, said she was impressed with the work that CARE does for PLWHAs. Had it not been for the mini-exhibition, she would not have learnt about CARE or got to understand the difficulties faced by people with AIDS.
She said she felt sad upon reading the story of a CARE resident who was rejected by his own family upon being diagnosed with AIDS.