WCCM Singapore has spread the practice of meditation to local parishes and to other countries
Archbishop Emeritus Nicholas Chia has commended the Singapore chapter of the World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) for its work in helping people develop a balance between work and prayer, action and contemplation.
During the organisation’s 25th anniversary Mass, held at the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace on May 24, Archbishop Chia noted that the pressures of modern living has resulted in enormous stress and more and more people are searching for peace and harmony.
Speaking to some 300 leaders of meditation groups, he said that some Christians in Singapore have turned to other religions for meditation, not knowing that Christians have their own tradition.
“You have a very important role to play,” he said, in helping more Catholics become “aware of your community’s teaching on Christian meditation”.
“Meditation as prayer helps us to develop an intimacy with Christ,” Archbishop Chia added, so that actions can grow from the presence of God within us.
During the celebration, WCCM Singapore director Peter Ng recalled how he and his late wife, Patricia, started the first meditation group at the Church of the Holy Family, fired by the belief that meditation could transform lives. “Who could have imagined that we could have grown so much since then?” he said.
WCCM Singapore has now expanded to 31 weekly meditation groups in 22 parishes, introduced meditation to children, and helped start groups in other countries.
WCCM began in Singapore in 1988 when Mr Ng’s wife, Patricia, discovered a book on meditation, Light Within, at Katong Catholic Book Centre.
It was written by Benedictine monk Fr Laurence Freeman, who is now director of the World Community for Christian Meditation, with its head office in London.
Patricia felt this book gave her the answer she had been seeking in her spiritual quest to draw closer to God. She began to meditate on her own and encouraged Peter to meditate with her.
She corresponded with Fr Laurence who arrived in Singapore and gave an introductory talk at Church of the Holy Family with the blessings of then parish priest Fr Alfred Chan.
A meditation group was later formed in the parish, followed by groups in other East District parishes. In 2001, the Singapore Meditation Centre opened at Emmaus House, Holy Family Church. It remains the centre for WCCM Singapore.
Outreach to other countries
WCCM Singapore has also helped set up meditation groups in other countries over the years.
Ties between Singapore and Malaysia have been close for almost two decades, with Malaysians coming to attend conventions, retreats and teaching courses in Singapore. The national coordinator of WCCM in Malaysia works closely with the Singapore team for events that benefit both communities.
In 1997, Cardinal Jean Margeot of Mauritius invited Mr Ng to conduct a weekend workshop in his country. Several meditation groups were later formed. Cardinal Margeot visited WCCM Singapore several times before his death in 2009.
In 2004, Fr Laurence, together with Patricia and Peter Ng, conducted an introductory workshop on meditation in Jakarta, attended by 25 people. A weekly group was formed meeting weekly in the Santa Ursula Senior High School.
The Singapore community continued to visit the Indonesian community and there are now about 80 groups in the country.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Charles Bo of Yangon has invited the Singapore community to introduce meditation to his clergy, Religious and lay leaders.
The team is scheduled to visit Myanmar from Aug 6-18, and will conduct workshops in Yangon, Taunggyi and Mandalay archdioceses.
In 2011, several catechists asked for Christian meditation to be introduced to children. WCCM Singapore then presented an introductory session to catechists.
By the end of 2011, children’s meditation began in catechism classes at the Church of the Risen Christ and Church of St Bernadette. Meditation was also introduced in the Canossian schools.
In 2012, WCCM Singapore organised a forum titled The Gift of Peace – Sharing Christian Meditation with Children. It was attended by teachers, parents and catechists. More interest followed with requests for help in starting children’s meditation in other parishes and in the Philippines.
An outreach to Mandarin-speaking Catholics began in 2011 and the first Mandarin-speaking group was formed at the Church of St Bernadette. There are now six such groups.
That year, the Catholic AIDS Response Effort asked for help in forming a meditation group among the residents of its shelter. This group continues to progress.
Currently, WCCM Singapore runs the worldwide community’s publishing company, Medio Media, providing books and publications on Christian Meditation.
Four times a year, WCCM Singapore produces a CD of lectures or talks. These are distributed to over 2,000 meditation groups worldwide.
In 2012, WCCM Singapore, and the Archdiocesan Council For Inter-Religious and Ecumenical Dialogue (IRED) organised the Common Ground seminar. Several hundred people came together to share the contemplative practice in the various religions.
For more information on WCCM Singapore, visit www.wccmsingapore.org