Fr. Anthony speaks animatedly at an ALPHA session.Father Anthony Hutjest came to Singapore with very little knowledge of the English language but has learnt it so well that he can write books

FATHER ANTHONY HUTJES has finished writing "The Catholic Church - A Deeper Perspective," his second book and published it. This is quite an achievement for someone who "could read one page of [an English] book in about half an hour, with the help of a dictionary" when he came to Singapore in 1973, a few months after his ordination.

Even as he familiarised himself with the English language, he also had to study Mandarin and adjust to the situation here, all new and strange to him. "The pastoral field in Singapore was completely unknown to me. I felt as though I was a baby again!" he exclaimed.

In Singapore, Father Anthony invests a lot of energy on faith-formation. "Many of our people are by nature much more religious than the Dutch, which is certainly a good thing," he said, "but it is not enough. Some are new-comers, without deep understanding as yet of the Catholic teachings, history or tradition and easily unsettled when meeting the Christians of other denominations."

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This situation led him to write a 150-page book called "The Catholic Church" which was published in November 2002 and contained all the essential teachings of the Catholic Church, its history and its prayers.

It is written in a simple style, easily digestible for the average person and, in the past three years, about 10,000 copies have been sold in Singapore. Following this, some readers asked him to write something more in-depth.

That is why Father Anthony wrote and published his second book "The Catholic Church - A Deeper Perspective" which is a refinement of the notes and teaching material he uses as background information for his RCIA classes.

"My main intention for writing these books has always been to teach our people a clear, complete and unambiguous knowledge of the Catholic faith," he said, "a faith which I myself have fully come to terms with only after years and years of spiritual struggle and reflection.

"I have never made it a habit to avoid the more sensitive subjects of our Catholic religion (such as contraception)," he added. "Neither have I done so in my sermons nor in my books though it sometimes asks a certain courage to speak more openly about this controversial kind of subjects, but a priest is not made a priest to be a coward."

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Father Anthony's main responsibilty is not writing books, of course, but assistant parish priest at Blessed Sacrament Church. He is an advocate in the Marriage Tribunal too and is the spiritual director for the Marriage Preparation Course. He is involved in running the ALPHA programme, the CaFE programme and the family ministry in his parish, and recently became the supervisor of the parish kindergarten.

Father Anthony has been ministering to the Chinese-speaking community for many years. He is a chaplain in the Prison Ministry as well.

(Father Anthony Hutjes' first book "The Catholic Church" is on sale at $13 and his second book "The Catholic Church - A Deeper Perspective" is on sale at $18 in all leading bookshops. The net proceeds of all sales will go towards the rebuilding of Damien Hall and the Blessed Sacrament Kindergarten.)

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