A member of the Joo Chiat Neighbourhood Christian Community speaking at the 5th Archdiocesan NCC Day to a gathering which included Vicar General Msgr Eugene Vaz (extreme right).

“I know a piece of bread is not enough but I learnt what it means to be of service to others.”

Ten-year-old Jacob from the Church of St Michael was sharing his experience of being in a Neighbourhood Christian Community (NCC) with a crowd of about 200 on Oct 15.

Laypeople from 18 parishes, together with priests and Religious, were participating in the 5th Archdiocesan Neighbourhood Christian Communities’ Day.

Though still young, Jacob has already distributed bread to the needy, visited the housebound, the sick, the elderly and participated in prayers at wakes in his neighbourhood. These he did with his parents and other members of his NCC.

Archbishop Nicholas Chia, in his opening address, noted that service to others, or diakonia, is one of the four essential aspects of Christian life. These are based on how the early Christians lived as recorded in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

Life in the Word of God (kerygma), in community (koinonia), and in faithful worship (eukaristia) were the other three aspects emphasised.

Archbishop Chia, who has been visiting NCCs in various parishes since 2009, expressed his gratitude to all the groups who welcomed him to their gatherings.

“We gather together not as crowds, like at a shopping mall, but when we come together as an NCC, we are a community, people with a relationship with one another…brothers and sisters on a journey together,” he said.

He reminded NCCs to “be messengers of God in your neighbourhood … reflecting God in all that you do”.

Last year’s NCC Day theme was Your Kingdom Come, in which participants were affirmed as friends of Christ. This year’s theme, A Journey of Friendship, saw NCCs sharing how they have lived out this friendship since then.

The day’s programme began with a paraliturgy, followed by a video presentation on the lay apostolate. Another video showed how NCCs had their roots in Vatican Council II and the development of NCCs in Singapore.

This was followed by sharings from various NCCs and a panel discussion.

Vicar General Msgr Eugene Vaz remarked at the conclusion of the discussion that more on-going formation is needed to develop NCCs.

In his homily during Mass, catechetical director Fr Erbin Fernandez shared his personal experience of how he benefited from community life. This helped him discover his own humanity and recover from burn-out, he said.

The NCC Day, organised by the Singapore Pastoral Institute, was held at Catholic Junior College.

By Teresa Lye

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