SINGAPORE – If we asked most Catholics if they were engaged in the missionary activity of the church, it is quite probable that they would answer in the negative.
Yet there are many individuals, many small informal groups, who are constantly continuing this mission of making Christ present and real in the world.
For instance, there are groups that regularly reach out to migrant workers with food supplies, following the teachings of Jesus "when I was hungry, you gave me food to eat …"
In one parish, a group takes residents of an old folks home in a specially hired bus to church in the middle of the week. Not all of them are Catholics, but everyone appreciates these outings and the majority enter the chapel to pray.
There are other parishes where parishioners with medical expertise run free clinics from the church premises.
Last year, one institute of higher learning decided to donate its computers to learning centres in Cambodia. Volunteers, young and old, came forward early on a Saturday morning to spend the next four to five hours to pack the computers. These computers have since been put to good use in many Catholic centres of learning all over Cambodia.
More and more we are hearing of the young and not so young Catholics, as well as students, who have spent their holidays among the poor in this region, helping in physical ways, offering medical services or just spending time and sharing the love and joy of Jesus with others.
There is a youth group that began visiting the very poor in Manila as teenagers. They are now graduates and young adults, but they still continue to visit these people who have become friends.
All this is missionary work! "Redemptoris Missio" (chapter 5) by Pope John Paul II states that there are three paths of mission – human promotion (social mission), "missio ad gentes" to those who do not know Christ (and there are thousands in Singapore) and new evangelization and that the first form of evangelization is witness.
This will form a data bank of contacts and shared experiences so that others who wish to embark on
some missionary activity whether in Singapore or abroad, will be able to obtain such information.
And if you, the reader, have a photograph of such activity, do take part in the ACMA Mission Photo Competition. Posters are put up in all parishes, or ring the ACMA office. Rules of the competition have also been posted
at www.catholicacma.org.sg. Closing date is the end of July.