Besides English and Mandarin, event also held in various dialects

More than 500 of the Society of St Vincent de Paul beneficiaries attended the rally held at St Joseph’s Institution on April 21.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul (SSVP) Singapore held its first evangelical outreach rally to its beneficiaries from various parishes in the archdiocese.

The April 21 event, held at St Joseph’s Institution, was a departure from the society’s usual practice of gathering annually to celebrate Mass.

Titled “Jesus Loves You”, the rally saw 551 Friends-in-Need (FINs) attending, together with 267 SSVP members.

Archbishop William Goh and Fr Henry Siew were also present.

Because 80 percent of the FINs present comprised non-English speaking elderly, the emcees joked with them in Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese, and sang evergreen songs.

Golden hits such as Teresa Teng’s “The Moon Represents My Heart” and folk tunes such as “Burong Kakak Tua” were met with enthusiastic singing and hearty applause.

A skit in Hokkien led by Mr Andrew Goh, who teaches the Catholic faith to elderly in various dialects, followed.

It gave the FINs a brief understanding of the Catholic faith, and also sought to allay their anxieties about joining the faith through an informative question-and-answer format.

Mr Goh also joked with the FINs about the special number 5212, which was not a 4D suggestion, but a reminder of how Jesus fed thousands with five loaves and two fishes and with 12 baskets full of leftovers.

After praise and worship by a Teochew choir and the Burning Bush choir in English and Mandarin, the congregation heard testimonies from three FINs who shared how they came to know of God’s love through the SSVP.

One of them, Mr Peter Lee, became a FIN in 2010, and was baptised in 2013, around his 80th birthday. Although he was suffering from stage four cancer, he was optimistic and happy, and said that his biggest blessing in life was to have known God, because God is love, and Jesus is his greatest friend.

Archbishop William Goh said that love is the most important thing in the world.

The rally also had a paraliturgy segment with readings taken from 1 John 4:7-12 and John 3:16-20.

In his sermon, Archbishop Goh shared that love was the most important thing in the world because life had no meaning without it, regardless of how much possessions one had. He also reminded the people that human love was finite and conditional, and that people can only love unconditionally because they have received God’s unconditional love.

It is this love manifested through the Church that has enabled Catholics to become who they are, he said. And today, it is manifested through the work of the SSVP, he said.

Fr Henry Siew, who delivered his sermon in Mandarin, said that the poor and uneducated feel deep insecurity, apprehension and even humiliation because of how society perceives and judges them. But he reassured the crowd that this is not how it is with God, because God loves everyone completely and unconditionally, regardless of who they are.

The Teochew choir leading praise and worship during the event.

He added that if anyone wishes to visit a Church, they would always be welcomed and would never be turned away.

Alice, a FIN, shared that she enjoyed the rally as it was an opportunity for the elderly FINs to learn about God. As a Pentecostal, she said, “I thought Catholics prayed to Mary, and that we prayed to Jesus.” But she realised that she had “wrongly interpreted” this, and came away with a much better understanding of the Catholic faith.

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