Keynote speaker Michael Walsh from the United States engages in discussion with Sister Angeline Lim, FMDM, during tea break at the CJC canteen. Photo by Joyce Gan

SINGAPORE – Is it possible to be successful in the workplace while remaining true to one’s Catholic beliefs? For Kwek Mean Luck several years ago, the two objectives had seemed at odds with each other.

“I felt that to survive at work, I needed to be savvy. I succeeded but didn’t like what I saw in the mirror,” said the civil servant. So he went to see Father Gerard Keane, who told him, “The world is a complicated place. We need men of God in the world. If people like you quit just like that, God will have one voice less in the world.”

But, Kwek had retorted, “I may lose myself if I carry on.” To that, Father Keane replied, “Awareness like that is the first step. If you’re aware, you can change.”

Those wise words have followed Kwek, who is Deputy-Secretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, to the present day.

Relating his personal experience during the Christ@ Work 2009 conference on Dec 5, Kwek concluded his presentation, “Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) – Beyond IQ and EQ”, by saying: “The pursuit of spiritual intelligence is not just for our spiritual or Catholic lives… we’re not meant to live life almost schizophrenic, adopting the philosophy of ‘an eye for an eye’ at work and ‘turning the other cheek’ at church” but to “know ourselves in relation to God for Him to guide us in our attitudes and behaviours”.

It was with an eye on discovering and discussing issues of spirituality at the workplace, family and everyday society that some 300 young working adults turned up for the bi-annual Catholic conference at the Performing Arts Centre at Catholic Junior College. These conferences started in 2005, with talented local and foreign speakers sharing how they bring and live Christ in their workplace.

This year’s theme, “Living a Holystic Life (Spiritually, Socially and Professionally)”, shifted the focus “from workplace ministry to young working adults, helping them grow spiritually, socially, professionally”.

Topics included “Putting All Your Stakes on God” by youth counsellor and evangelist Edwyn De Souza at the Catholic Archdiocesan Youth Centre, “God – My Silent Partner in Business” by The Ideas Factory chief executive Nicholas Lee, and “Living Out Your Spirituality in Your Whole Life” by keynote speaker Michael Walsh. Walsh is a Catholic motivational speaker and evangelist from the United States, who is featured monthly on EWTN. In the time he spent in Singapore, he held three talks at the parishes of St. Mary of the Angels, Holy Spirit and St. Francis Xavier.

There was also a panel discussion on “Church 2.0 – Using Technology (like Facebook, Twitter and blogs) to Build God’s Kingdom”, with Willie Cheng (former country managing director of Accenture, and chairman of Caritas Singapore) providing informal statistics on how the Singapore Archdiocese uses technology (see above).

Kwek’s presentation especially resonated with some of the participants. He “managed to frame a topic like spirituality in modern day terms like SQ, EQ, IQ”, said Justin Yip from Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea. But, Mr Yip added, it would be a challenge to put it into practice.

Noella Anthony from Church of St. Michael, a first-time participant at Christ@Work, found the topic of conflict management by Liz Gay useful as she could now think about “why certain people [at her workplace] communicate the way they do”.

The conference concluded with a Mass celebrated by Monsignor Eugene Vaz and Father Colin Tan, SJ.

By Joyce Gan
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