A Catholic Faith Exploration (CaFE) programme discussion group. Many participants say the programme has helped them make a better connection between their faith and lives.

Participants of the Catholic Faith Exploration (CaFE) programme say that the course has helped them to rediscover and renew their Catholic faith.

Ms Gwen Pinto, a participant turned facilitator, said that as a cradle Catholic, she had taken the “aspects of our faith for granted”. “All my life, I thought I was a ‘good Catholic’ … I did all the things – attend Mass on Sunday, go communion … But it was just a ritual in many ways which had no real meaning in life.”

The CaFE programme, Ms Pinto said, helped her to make a better connection between her faith and life. Now, she is able to reflect on what is God is trying to tell her in a trying situation and is less prone to losing patience, she said.

The programme was developed in the UK in 1996 by Catholic Evangelisation Services for the re-evangelisation of Catholics. The course includes talks on video presented by clergy such as Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to Pope Benedict XVI, as well as theologians and trained laity.

The talks deal with topics such as God’s love, forgiveness and grace, the lordship of Christ, the Sacraments, Mary and the saints, and evangelisation.

Each talk is followed by group discussions under the guidance of a trained facilitator. The discussion helps participants relate the points, raised in the video, to their daily lives.

CaFE was first introduced in the Church of St Bernadette in 2003. A group of facilitators had studied the programme’s training DVDs and corresponded with Catholic Evangelisation Services.

The group became known as the Archdiocesan CaFE Promotion Tram (ACPT) and in 2008 received approval from Archbishop Nicholas Chia to bring the programme to other parishes.

Before 2008, there were other groups who were running CaFE modules in Singapore with training and support from the facilitators. These included the men’s section of Changi Prison, neighbourhood groups in Braddell Heights and the Small Christian Communities in the Church of St Anthony.

Some non-Catholics who had attended CaFE later decided to sign up for the RCIA and were baptised, said Ms Pinto.

Ms Marcia Dragon also gives the programme the thumbs up.

For 10 years, she was attending Mass at most once or twice a year, without understanding its significance. At the invitation of a friend, she attended CaFE.

Since then, she has attended a retreat at the Catholic Spirituality Centre and Church-organised talks. She now attends Sunday Mass regularly, and has helped in a weekly distribution of bread to the homeless.

Ms Pinto says there are plans to pilot a Youth CaFE module in St Bernadette’s for pre-confirmation teenagers.

CaFE facilitators were also invited to Miri, Sarawak, to give a training session to about 80 participants from Kuching, Miri, Brunei and Ipoh. Some parishes in Kuching and Ipoh later started the programme.

Michelle Moran, speaker of the CaFE module on evangelisation, will speak on evangelisation, and CaFE in the context of evangelisation, at the Church of St Bernadette on Dec 7 at 7.30pm. To register, email: acptCaFE@gmail. com. Ms Moran is a member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and president of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services in Rome.

By Darren Boon This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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