SINGAPORE – "My role as Associate Director now is to hold the fort while Wendy Louis goes on sabbatical for a year," says Arthur Goh, who is coordinator for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults in the archdiocese. He was sent by the Singapore Pastoral Institute (SPI) in 2005 to pursue a two-year Masters in Religious Education in Boston. Arthur has been helping parishes in RCIA journeys since 2000 until he left for Boston. He returned in September 2007 and picked up where he left off – familiarizing himself with the goings-on at different parishes once more.

He shares that his time spent in Boston has been an eye-opener.

"It was interesting to see another church grapple with its issues and struggle to be faithful to the gospel in their own way. You experience similar, yet different, ways faith is expressed in a different culture," he related. Arthur continues to ponder about exploring how the changing times call for a renewed thinking in terms of religious education now that he is back.

How do we "enter into (an existing) reality to shape people to remain faithful in a life-giving way in spite of this reality"? he asked. He is considering SPI’s way of communicating to the laity, and its relevance in terms of relationships with people, priests and other religious organizations.

"That’s what I’m thinking about these days," he shares. For instance, Arthur is aware of how people in the archdiocese comment that SPI is ‘out of the way’. He then takes steps to provide a stronger online presence to maintain connections with the people. He has created an SPI Forum ( where discussions can be held with regards to Christian ministry.

"There is a necessity of really being together with people if we want to be a pastoral institute and to be pastoral. We’ve got to be really sensible to the needs of people and we have to set up a way to be able to listen to people in an organized way. Let them say what they want to say. [Because] before we can talk about answering needs, we have to let them talk about them," he says.

He continues, "I’ve come to see the top-down approach of getting people to follow rules, etc, may produce uniformity but it doesn’t (adequately) serve the communion we’re called to have. Dialogue is more in need to find the common ground we can work for. It’s the people who need to choose what’s best for themselves. Our job is just to clarify issues for them."

His primary role as Associate Director now is to assist the diocese’s Religious Education director, Father Johnson Fernandez, to implement directives and training, etc, as well as to manage Wendy Louis’ portfolio of pastoral training for Small Christian Communities and Parish Pastoral Councils to support all that is going on in parishes.

He will continue to contribute his efforts to his work with the RCIA. -By Joyce Gan

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