By Regina Xie

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SINGAPORE - Evangelization, inter-faith dialogue, and a deepening of the Catholic faith among youths were brought to a new level in the National University of Singapore (NUS) during the annual Catholic Awareness Week (CAW) held from Feb 5-10. CAW aimed at creating awareness of the Catholic faith and was organized by the NUS Catholic Students' Society (CSS).

Its theme this year was "Hearts on Fire". "In the same way as fire spreads, our aim in CAW is to spread the joy and love of Christ to both our Catholic and non- Catholic brothers and sisters on campus," said Albert Salim, co-head of the CAW organizing committee.

Above, Katherine Kwan (extreme left), president of the NUS Sathya Sai Society discusses the relevance of God with a member of the NUS Muslim Society.

Items related to the Catholic faith were exhibited during CAW including the chair used by the late Pope John Paul II when he visited Singapore in 1986, and a relic of the True Cross. CSS members explained their significance to visitors.

"I got to see how the artifacts are related to theology. Religion came to life. What shone through was the dedication to share," said Hakim Muhd Nurhakim, president of the NUS Muslim Society.

Besides the showcase of items, other exhibitions held at the Arts, Engineering, Business and Science faculties during CAW included explanation of church teachings and book sales by the Daughters of St. Paul, which allowed the NUS community to interact with the religious sisters.

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Below, Father Simon Pereira and Redemptorist novices lay hands and pray over a participant at the CAW youth rally. Photos by Gerald Tham and Victor Li

03.jpgAnother new component of CAW was a discussion over dinner on Feb 8 with non-Catholics, at a café in NUS. Titled "Teh-OLogy", the session was conducted by Living Stones Campus Outreach. Students chatted over dinner, listened to a 15-minute input from Canossian Sister Elizabeth Sim and shared about the relevance of God in their everyday lives.

Katherine Kwan, president of the NUS Sathya Sai Society said, "It was good because it was free and easy, allowing everyone to express enquiries, and to know a person as a person." Katherine also echoed the sentiments of the other religious groups present, that the session encouraged interfaith dialogue.

The week closed with a rally participated by 800 youths on Feb 10 at the Catholic Junior College Performing Arts Centre. The theme of the rally, "Now is the Time", had a triple meaning for the three groups of youths that the organizers hoped to reach out to.

"Now is the time for the Catholics to worship and to strengthen, for lapsed Catholics to rekindle and to renew, and for the non-Catholics to witness and to experience. Hopefully, at the end of it all they left the auditorium with their hearts burning with fire for God," said Stephanie Ong, co-head of the rally sub-committee.

The programme included praise and worship, benediction and healing at which the youths experienced the Holy Spirit. Father Valerian Cheong, the chaplain of CSS, said that the strong turnout at the rally was a sign of how much the youth in Singapore are thirsting for God. "They want to experience him through the Holy Spirit," he said. "It is heartening to know that CSS is of service to the archdiocese."

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