Religious praying during the World Day for Consecrated Life Mass on Feb 2.

The Church can never do without Religious, said Archbishop William Goh.

Whether it is in the field of social outreach, education or serving the elderly and less fortunate, Religious are called to be “the light of Christ to the world,” he said at the World Day for Consecrated Life Mass on Feb 2.

Archbishop Goh was speaking to about 400 people – made up of Religious and laypeople – at the Church of Sts Peter and Paul.The Mass was held on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

Proclaiming the love of Christ in today’s world, he said, “is not done through what we preach or what we do, rather it is how we live our lives.”

“The greatest challenge for Religious today is living the life of Christ,” he said.

Archbishop Goh also noted how more young men and women are joining Religious orders abroad.

“Many of our young people think to themselves: ‘They [Religious orders in Singapore] don’t fulfil my needs. I want to live a radical life.’”

Archbishop William Goh reminded Religious to have ‘intimacy with God’ in their prayer life before serving others.

He urged Religious not to be too “comfortable” in their community but to instead “really go out and identify with people on their level.”

He also cautioned Religious against being “over-active”.

“No doubt, Religious must outreach but be careful of burnout. You become tired ... you lose your zeal and then you feel like giving up.”

He said all Religious must first have “intimacy with God, to have a strong personal prayer life.”

CatholicNews spoke to several Religious after the Mass to get their thoughts.

Cenacle Sr Francisca Tan said the focus of all Religious congregations should be “to journey with people in their faith.”

“Religious life is ultimately a call, a yearning from the heart. It’s not about which habit is worn or what lifestyle is lived,” she said.

On the role of Religious in today’s society, she said it is “to awaken and deepen the faith, accompanying people in their faith journey, to help everyone understand that God is the most important, whether you’re a Religious or a layperson living in singlehood or the married life.”

Carmelite friar Damian Tay agreed with the sentiments of Archbishop Goh on young people joining overseas Religious orders.

“It is true, I know a few people who have done the same,” he said.

He noted that if people cannot find what they are looking for, they may choose to look elsewhere. 

Jared Ng
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