Artwork produced by a group of catechists during their annual recollection.

About 160 catechists from across the archdiocese explored their faith through the medium of art during their annual recollection on Aug 30.

Art therapist Joanna Tan and archdiocesan catechetical director Fr Erbin Fernandez facilitated the event, which had the theme, Wounded by Beauty.

Fr Erbin began with a reflection on an icon depicting John the Baptist pointing out Jesus to His disciples. Fr Erbin invited participants to consider that Christianity is an encounter with an event, a person, and not merely the product of lofty ideas and ethical choices.

The implication for the catechists was to consider whether they lived their life as a true event or as an ethic, and whether they recognised that they were made to savour the beauty of life.

The participants were invited to spend the day exploring this notion of Christian faith through art.

Catechists looking at artwork produced by various groups.

Ms Tan took participants through a series of exercises that enabled them to be comfortable and free enough to express themselves through drawing and painting, using media such as watercolour, colour pencils, crayons and charcoal.

Fr Erbin insisted that all persons, not just Christians, are created to be “pierced” by the beauty of God’s creation, to enjoy sunrises, sunsets and nature. In this way, one experiences God in a way that one cannot describe to others, but can only invite them into the experience.

Catechesis is hence understood as initiation into the doctrine of the Church via the beauty of its liturgical celebrations and art.

Participants were gathered into groups of four. Each group had a huge art block paper which participants worked on simultaneously from the four corners. Many expressed surprise that with no verbal communication, they were able to produce a single piece of work that for the most part seemed to portray a unity of theme.

The catechists later also spent time doing their own personal artwork.

Throughout the recollection, there was also time for Eucharistic adoration and individual celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Many catechists said they found their art experience enriching.

“The art session was totally new to me, and personally for me there was a sense of liberation and joy when doodling,” said Ms Monica Loh, from the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “I felt a childlike innocence that was ready to ‘let go and let God’.”

Ms Constance Ng from the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, said she realised that “everyone can be an artist. You need not be able to draw beautifully; you just need to be able to focus and follow God’s inspiration”.

For Ms Josephine Leow from the Church of the Holy Spirit, the recollection helped her to “realise that art is a gift that one can use to communicate faith”.

The recollection was held at CHIJ Our Lady of Good Counsel.

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