Singaporean Catholics play with children at a school for the deaf in Pattaya.

To evangelise the poor and be evangelised by them. This was the goal of the Redemptorist Overseas Mission Trip (R.O.M.E) to Pattaya, Thailand, that took place from Dec 1-9.

Led by Fr Simon Pereira, R.O.M.E brought together two seminarians and 51 laypeople, including parents, young adults and youths from parishes and mission schools all over Singapore.

The outreach was to serve poor and abandoned people supported by the Father Ray Foundation, a Catholic organisation.

Taking visually handicapped children to the beach.

The group visited an orphanage, where the youths played with and cared for the young children there. For many, this was their first time looking after a child.

The group also acted as guides for children at a school for the blind, taking them out for a day at the beach. They walked through Pattaya’s red light district to understand the plight of teenage prostitutes and also worked in a palm oil plantation, hacking at weeds and planting crops

During the trip, participants were encouraged to draw parallels linking their activities with their own lives. For example, a simple act of weeding and planting became an opportunity to reflect on ridding oneself of negativity and sin, and to ask the Lord to plant the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit in one’s life.

It was at this point that the spiritual aspect of the trip took on new meaning. By the end of the outreach, many felt their lives had been touched in a special way.

One participant wrote in a reflection before leaving Pattaya, “I know that when God leads me back into the workplace or wherever he places me, I will see things with different eyes and feel with a different heart. I am starting to learn empathy and compassion”.

By Audrey Tan and Gerald Tock

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