A section of the 250-strong crowd at the Sept 21 retreat for Teochew- speaking Catholics.A section of the 250-strong crowd at the Sept 21 retreat for Teochew- speaking Catholics.A recent retreat for Teochew-speaking Catholics provided the largely elderly participants with an opportunity for spiritual growth and interaction, said participants.

The Sept 21 retreat helped them in their “spiritual search” and desire for “more Gospel knowledge”, said Mr Joseph Tan, 80, a parishioner of the Church of St Bernadette.

Madam Mary Chia, 64, from the Church of Christ the King agreed. The Called by the Grace of God retreat, held at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, helped “elderly people to be active and spiritually nourished”, she said.

About 250 people, mostly in their 50s to 70s, attended the event conducted by parish priest Fr Henry Siew.

In his talks, Fr Siew spoke on St Therese of Lisieux’s life and spiritual journey. He told his audience to acquire the innocence of a child and of the Infant Jesus.

This was St Therese’s philosophy, he noted, adding that all through her life, she had wanted to be a saint.

He then urged the participants to reflect on what their lifetime goal is.

Fr Siew also stressed that every person is unique in the eyes of God. Just as every plant, leaf and branch is different, every person is different, he said.

The six-hour long retreat included rosary prayers and Teochew praise songs.

The young adults group of Nativity Church also put on a skit, with a pre-recorded Teochew dialogue voiceover, to illustrate the life of St Therese.

According to Fr Henry, he has been conducting this twice-a-year Teochew retreat for the past five years. In the first two years, the retreats were held at the Catholic Spirituality Centre just across the road, before they moved to Nativity Church.

Some participants CatholicNews spoke to suggested further activities for Teochew-speaking Catholics.

Madam Chia suggested exercising together or having Teochew praise and worship sessions, while Madam Alice Chong, 53, from Nativity Church, said that cooking events could help people to bond.

Fellow parishioner Anthony Tan, 58, suggested having Teochew talks by prominent lay Catholics.

Mrs Lucy Chua, 60, and Madam Yap Jia Yan, 46, said that there should be karaoke sessions or Teochew singing competitions to provide more interaction for the elderly.

Otherwise “they have no one to talk to”, said Madam Yap.

By Clara Lai
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