Small Christian Community members (Church of Christ the King) gather together to reflect on how the community can bear fruit. Photo by Darren Boon
SINGAPORE – Other than monthly prayer meetings, Bible study and sharing sessions, the Tanglin Halt Small Christian Community (SCC) also visits homebound Catholics, purchase food for the elderly, and celebrate birthdays with them.
The Blessed Sacrament Church SCC also visits residents at St. Joseph’s Home and pray the Divine Mercy with them. Members also attend wakes of Catholics in the neighbourhood, and even at Singapore Casket in Lavender Street.
These are some of the activities the 25 members – comprising middle-aged to elderly residents of 25 blocks in the Tanglin Halt – do as an SCC. The community is divided into two groups for its monthly home meetings and members have the flexibility of attending either if they should miss out on one, said Louise Dias, one of the community members.
Mrs Dias, 70, was among the 300 members from SCCs across 21 parishes that gathered at St. Joseph Institution Junior School on Saturday Oct 10 to celebrate the Archdiocesan SCC day themed “Working in the Vineyard”, which leads up to World Mission Sunday the following weekend.
In his opening address, Archbishop Nicholas Chia highlighted his dream of “families gathering in the neighbourhood fortnightly or monthly”.
Speaking to those present, Archbishop Chia said that SCCs are a small effective way to live out one’s mission to the world, of being in one body in Christ to serve the marginalised.
“The SCCs are a beam of the light of Christ around. There are many people of other religions that need to be reached out to. The SCCs serve as a witness to them,” Archbishop Chia said.
Executive Secretary of AsIPA Desk, Office of Laity, FABC (Federation of Asian Bishops Conference), Wendy Louis shared that SCCs should love everyone in the neighbourhood, and to achieve unity within diversity within the community itself.
She envisaged a day when each SCC has one ministry that reaches out to each group such as the youth, elderly, or focus on activities like Gospel sharing.
Benjo Castillo, from the Filipino Bukit Batok SCC from St. Mary of the Angels parish said that joining the SCC has helped him find a representation of a father and mother in the community. The 33-year-old said that the SCC reaches out to new Filipino migrants and offers them assistance by directing them to the relevant authorities if they run into employment problems.
Also present that afternoon were members from the Malayalam SCC that come from all over Singapore. They meet for prayer, rosary, Bible sharing, praise and worship and hope to inculcate a sense of belonging to the community by involving both their adults and children.
Thomas George from the Malayalam SCC said that in a developed country like Singapore, the independence, self-centredness, busyness, materialism of people and to a certain extent non-believers in God, pose a challenge.
Coordinator for SCCs Daphne Leong told CatholicNews that one service and mission of SCCs is to welcome strangers. “They have to feel that it’s part of Christian discipleship,” she said.
As such, prior to the event, SCCs were tasked with drawing up a social profile of their neighbourhood – identifying age group, type of housing, places people meet and foreigners’ composition, and identifying concerns and highlighting plans to address them.
At the same time, Catholics can go about service and mission in daily life, said Ms Leong, by offering a smile or saying hello to a neighbour when meeting them, and inviting your Catholic neighbour into the community.
By Darren Boon