Activities to mark Caritas’ 10th anniversary and Agape Village’s first included visitors participating in an activity by Alzheimer’s Disease Association.

Caritas Singapore, the social mission arm of the Singapore archdiocese, marked its 10th year with a Mass and open house at Agape Village.

The celebration, held on Nov 19, also marked the first anniversary of Agape Village, a Caritas Singapore initiative located in Toa Payoh, that provides multiple, integrated social services under one roof.

The venue was a hive of activity that day as about 1,500 visitors gathered to enjoy the food, drinks, performances, workshops and talks, and also to visit booths manned by Caritas’ member organisations. These include groups supporting persons with disabilities, children, persons with HIV/AIDS and foreign workers.

Throughout the day, Caritas’ member organisations which are housed at Agape Village, and other organisations providing services there, such as Mount Alvernia Hospital and Alzheimer’s Disease Association, reached out to visitors to raise awareness of their services.

For Mr Romel Tito and his wife, their favourite event of the day was the Understanding and Managing Stress talk by clinical psychologist Denise Lim, organised by Clarity Singapore, a Caritas member organisation that helps persons with intellectual disabilities and mental challenges.

A performance by wheelchair-dance group, OnWheels Dance, at the celebration on Nov 19.

“We wanted to attend to understand how to handle it,” shared Mr Tito.

In addition to information on healthcare, Ms Gail Ng from Caritas also shared on Catholic social teaching. Groups, such as volunteers from the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants & Itinerant People (ACMI), also put on dances.

“The [visitor] turnout is surprisingly good,” commented Mr Michael Binny, a case worker from Catholic Welfare Service.

“When we first came here, nobody knew what we were doing. As we progressed, people have come to know about our services here.”


Friar John-Paul Tan

Ms Teo Jin Lee, chairperson of Agape Village’s management committee, shared: “We hope to be able to bring more people into AV [Agape Village]. More volunteers. That’s why we have this event today. We want people to understand that we are not a home, [but] an integrated social services centre.”

During the Mass to commemorate Caritas’ 10th anniversary, Franciscan Friar John-Paul Tan urged the 100 or so participants to bear witness to the crucified Christ.

“In today’s world, there is too much talk of hatred, destruction, fear of the other, of those who are different from us ...
Caritas has this mission of building a civilisation of love,” he stressed.

Referring to the closing of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which took place in Rome the next day, Friar John-Paul urged all Catholics “not to allow the fruits of the Year of Mercy to regress to a lukewarm existence of indifference”.

In addition to the recent celebrations, Caritas also held its Social Mission Conference, Charities Week annual fundraising exercise, and its Down Memory Lane Fundraising Dinner this year.

According to Caritas, it has five strategic missions that would guide its team in the years after its 10th anniversary. These are:                                                            
• Knowing Christ and knowing Catholic social teaching
• Reflecting Christ with service
• Living Christ with the parish
• Giving voice to Christ in the poor
• Strengthening capabilities
For more information on Caritas Singapore, visit www.caritas-singapore.org

CARITAS SINGAPORE MILESTONES


Archbishop Goh blessing the cornerstone for Agape Village during its groundbreaking ceremony.

Sept 13, 2006:
Catholic Social & Community Council Ltd (CSCC), now Caritas Singapore, was incorporated as the social mission arm of the Catholic Church in Singapore.

2006-2016: In the past 10 years, the annual Charities Week archdiocesan fundraising campaign during Lent has been organised by Caritas Singapore. The funds raised go towards supporting the work of Caritas Singapore and its member organisations.

Early 2007: Overarching guidelines issued, identifying where and how the Church should respond in meeting the needs of the community, such as the elderly and sick, low-income households and ex-convicts.
August 2007: Catholic social teaching was distilled into 10 essential principles and a series of articles explaining this was published.

June 2008: A study guide on the Basic Principles of Catholic Social Teaching, Salt of the Earth, was launched. A year later, the Mandarin version was launched.

August 2008: Catholic Social & Community Council Ltd changed its name to Caritas Singapore Community Council Ltd, and took over the membership of Caritas Internationalis, the global Caritas organisation, from Catholic Welfare Services.

2008: Caritas Singapore formed a taskforce to develop the archdiocese’s framework for helping the poor. This was followed by a joint Study of the Poor in 2010, commissioned by Catholic Welfare Services, Society of St Vincent de Paul and Caritas Singapore. The Study of the Poor report in 2011 identified three key approaches to working with the poor: early intervention, a holistic approach, and integrated services for those in poverty having diverse and multiple needs.

2008-2016: Caritas’ biennial Social Mission Conference was first introduced in 2008.

August 2010: CHARIS, previously known as the Archdiocesan Crisis Coordination Team, was launched as the overseas humanitarian arm of Caritas Singapore.

September 2010: Launch of Labours of the Harvest, a study guide on Catholic social teaching for working Catholics.

October 2010: Caritas Singapore facilitated the start-up of two new charities: Abilities Beyond Limitation & Expectation (ABLE) for the physically challenged and CLARITY for the mentally challenged.

2012: Following the Study of the Poor, Caritas developed a framework for helping the poor, titled “Partnering the Poor”.

February 2012: The Caritas Young Adults Committee was formed to involve young adults between 18 and 35 years old in the social mission of the Church.

May 2012: Agape Village was conceptualised.

2012-2016: Caritas introduced a series of RoundTables, focusing on poverty trends and related key social issues. It is a platform for Caritas Singapore to dialogue with non-profit organisations, academia and other institutions seeking to make a difference on poverty, regardless of race, religion or other affiliations.

Sept 5, 2013: Groundbreaking and blessing ceremony of Agape Village in Toa Payoh.

October 2013: Launch of Caritas’ anti-poverty initiative, “Singaporeans Against Poverty” (SGAP), with a multi-media campaign including cinema, print, radio, mobile and online.

Nov 21, 2015: Official opening and blessing of Agape Village.

Nov 19, 2016: Agape Village’s 1st anniversary open house and Caritas Singapore’s 10th anniversary Mass.

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