A look at how some parishes celebrated Advent and Christmas

St Francis Xavier parishioners make Advent wreaths, paint murals


Church of St Francis Xavier parishioners making Advent wreaths during a workshop.

An Advent wreath workshop, painting an Advent mural and singing Christmas carols in two malls.

These were some of the activities organised by the Church of St Francis Xavier to commemorate Advent and Christmas.

On Nov 25, about 50 participants tried their hand at making Advent wreaths during the workshop held in the parish.

Targeted at families, the workshop saw children and adults working together to make their very own Advent wreath.

As part of a parish community initiative, about 15 parishioners used their artistic talents to paint two Advent murals on Dec 9.

Both young and old spent the afternoon painting two murals, one of the Three Wise Men and another of the Nativity
scene.

According to the parish, the wall murals provide a photo opportunity for parishioners and visitors, and also bring life to the Christmas story.


Young people painting an Advent mural depicting the Nativity scene.

Bringing the Christmas spirit out of the church, the parish youth choir also took time to sing Christmas carols at two malls in Serangoon.

The two carolling events were held at myVillage on Dec 16 and at Nex on Dec 22.

Popular carols such as Joy to the World, Silent Night and Angels We Have Heard on High entertained passers-by and pamplets on the Christmas story were also handed out.

A Christmas fiesta was scheduled to take place on Dec 29 in the church.

The fiesta, which had the theme A Gift Given, A Gift Shared, had scheduled activities such as choir performances, a children’s pageant and various dance items.


Bringing joy to the less fortunate at St Ignatius

Jesuit Fr Jerome Leon blessing Advent wreaths.

The Church of St Ignatius organised two events that brought Christmas joy to families and the less fortunate.

On Dec 2, the Welcome Ministry of the parish held an Advent wreath-making family event.

Families came together to try their hand at making wreaths and the children also took part in games such as a treasure hunt and scrabble.

The following day, members of the Society of St Vincent De Paul (SSVP) and about 130 Friends-In-Need (FINs) – made up of elderly and other low-income beneficiaries – gathered for an evening of feasting and fun.

The event kicked off with some games – from a scavenger hunt to having the FINs dress up as reindeer with the help of balloons. Many also stepped up to sing their favourite karaoke songs and dinner ended with the crowd’s favourite Bingo session.


Parish helps make wishes come true


A Church of St Bernadette FIN receiving her Christmas wish gift as part of the parish’s Christmas Giving Tree Project.

At the Church of St Bernadette, a Christmas Giving Tree Project was launched on Nov 26 to support the Friends-In-Need (FINs) from the Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP) of the parish.

The initiave, jointly organised by the parish’s Family Life team, the Altar Servers’ Society and the SSVP, saw FINs writing down a list of items that they wished to receive during Christmas.

These were then taken up by parishioners, wrapped and given to the parish office.

Some examples of the items include birds’ nest essence, a microwave oven and a tuition class for a disabled sibling.

Parish volunteers gathered on Dec 16 to distribute the gift-wrapped items to the FINs, many of whom had bright smiles on their faces.


St Mary’s befriends the poor in the neighbourhood


A Church of St Mary of the Angels volunteer interacting with Bukit Batok residents during the Dec 23 Advent outreach programme.

Extending Franciscan hospitality to the needy and to the marginalised.

This was the idea behind the Church of St Mary of the Angels’ (SMOTA) Advent outreach programme that brought the joy of Christmas to about 600 people, mostly poor residents living in rental blocks in Bukit Batok.

The Dec 23 event, held at basketball courts near the rental blocks, included Christmas carols, a dance item and a magic performance.

In addition to the food stalls, there were also games, motorised rides as well as an outdoor photo booth for people to take photos.

The event helped parishioners, staff and friars of SMOTA to better know the people of Bukit Batok.

SMOTA worked with Mr Murali Pillai, MP for Bukit Batok, and his team for the event.

Through a social enterprise named Gobbler, residents were issued vouchers by the Bukit Batok grassroots team. These vouchers allowed residents to redeem food, household items and more.

Home visits were also conducted and transportation provided for the less mobile residents to the venue.

The whole idea of this Advent outreach programme started at a townhall meeting in SMOTA. The SMOTA townhall replaced the concept of the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) three years ago, where instead of electing a few members from the parish, the townhall allowed for wider representation from a parish that is home to about 11,000 parishioners with 120 ministries and communities.


Transfiguration Church celebrates first Christmas


The 3-m Christmas tree at the Church of the Transfiguration decorated with note cards written by parishioners.

The Church of the Transfiguration (COTT) celebrated its first Christmas this year with a tour for various senior priests as well as a festive goodies sale.

On Dec 5, COTT hosted a lunch and tour of the church complex for seven senior clergy and Archbishop William Goh.

The priests were Frs Michael Arro, Gino Henriques, Paul Staes, Paul Goh, Tom Curran, John Khoo and Joseph Jeannequin.

A gift of appreciation was presented to each priest for his commitment to and love for the Catholic community in Singapore.

To aid the operating costs of the parish, the youth ministry sold homemade cookies while the pantry ministry sold honey glazed chicken.

Besides a Nativity scene in its sanctuary, COTT also has 13 artificial trees and a 3-m-tall live tree.

Ten of the artificial trees can be found on the ground floor lit with different coloured lights to represent the different virtues of the Holy Spirit.

The 3-m tree is in the church foyer and parishioners are invited to write their good wishes on cards and hang them on the tree.


Cathedral holds Christmas night market


There were nightly carolling performances by different church choirs at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd from Dec 15-24.

The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd celebrated Christmas by organising its first Christmas Night Market from Dec 15-24.

The Night Market consisted of a series of activities and events that aimed to allow Catholics to
find out the true meaning of Christmas.

These activities included souvenir stalls selling Christmas gifts and other items, nightly carolling by different church choirs, movie screenings of The Nativity Story and Mary of Nazareth, and trivia quizzes to entertain
children.

Angel figurines holding musical instruments could also be found facing the main entrance of the cathedral while 44 other lighted angel figurines were placed around the compound.

Msgr Philip Heng, rector of the cathedral, also held a healing service on Dec 20 and he celebrated a special Mass for the elderly and homebound on Dec 23.


Focusing on the theme of family


Prayer intentions of families hanging on the Christmas tree at the Church of Sts Peter and Paul.

This Advent, the Church of Sts Peter and Paul focused on the theme of family.

Families were invited to consider how they can grow in love so as to become more effective witnesses to the joy of the
Gospel.

The parish’s Advent Family Prayer Project involved the decoration of a Christmas tree with prayer cards which represented each family’s Advent prayer intentions.

Some of these included growing in love as a family and remembering family members and relatives who are estranged or who are non-believers.

Families were invited to write their petitions on ornaments which were then hung by volunteers on the Christmas
tree.

The prayer intentions were specially prayed for during Advent Masses.

To encourage family prayer at home, families were also invited to take home a prayer card containing Pope Francis’ prayer for the 2014/2015 Synod on the Family.

Compiled by Jared Ng

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