HE PRESIDED OVER the delicate process of bringing about the unification of the church under a single administration. Catholics contributed generously to the building of churches in the new towns to which they had moved. He installed an organization that provided for consultation with his priests and the laity, set up an institution to bolster the faith of his followers and commissions to address social and religious concerns. Despite a heart by-pass in the midst of his tenure, he soldiered on gallantly.

He paid particular attention to the family realizing that the times and the pressures were eroding its very foundations. Often, he spoke on the value of human life and the importance of the family, encouraging the provision of services for counselling and assistance. His concern for the family led to a conference on the Church in Reflection and Dialogue in April 1993 to consider a more effective approach to related problems. Four family centres were set up, the number of convalescent homes and those for the aged increased, as well as that of lay apostolate groups. At the time of his installation as archbishop, anticipating how material wealth, arising form economic growth, would affect family life, he announced that he would "strive towards quality of life for Singaporeans by safeguarding spiritual values, upholding sound moral standards, respecting and defending human rights, promoting happy and contented family life through means that are moral and just"

Worldwide Marriage Encounter, which invites Catholic married couples to develop "an open and honest relationship within marriage and to live out a sacramental life in the service of others" found its way to Singapore
in 1979. "Choice" was started in Singapore in 1981 as a programme under the Family Life Society. It aims at guiding young single adults in the choices they have to make in life. The Family Life Society seeks to promote a deep understanding and reverence for marriage, family and human life for all. It provides counselling on family and marital matters, family education in schools, courses on parenting, runs a pregnancy crisis centre, mans a youth lifeline and offers legal aid.

Pope John Paul II wrote on the occasion of Archbishop Gregory Yong’s Episcopal Silver Jubilee on
Jul 1, 1993: "Nor have we forgotten the difficulties your faithful experienced on account of certain laws still in force,which are contrary to the moral directives of the church. It is to your credit that you have attempted to handle this difficult situation, though a formidable one and yet govern eminently."

On May 20, 2000, on attaining the age of 75, Archbishop Gregory Yong submitted his resignation as required by Canon Law. On Oct 14, Rome accepted his resignation. n

(The above is an excerpt from"Going forth... The Catholic Church in Singapore 1819 – 2004" by E. Wijeysingha in collaboration with Father Rene Nicolas, mep)



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