2007

I HAVE yet to know of any Protestant Churches that don't distribute free booklets on the Gospel of Mark, Matthew, Luke or John to non-Christians interested to know more about the Good News manifested by Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind. If these people wish to own a Bible, it is usually given to them without charge - even though a copy can be obtained from the Singapore Bible Society at a subsidized price.

I don't see the Catholic Church in Singapore doing this? Is there a reason for this?

    Nelson Quah

Singapore 650524

By Daniel Tay

171.jpgSINGAPORE - Susan Loh passed away on the morning of Christmas Eve 2006 at the age of 71. Her funeral Mass at the Church of St. Ignatius was attended by many priests and about 800 parishioners, relatives and friends. Archbishop Nicholas Chia, chaplain of the Order of Malta of which Susan Loh was a Dame, was also at the Mass, as were many members of the Order.

Dame Susan Loh is remembered for her humility in service.

Mrs Loh is known to many as a "quiet and very humble" lady who worked in many outreach projects for the marginalized. Trained as a counsellor by the Family Life Society, she worked with families experiencing difficulties, and manned the emergency phone lines for suicidal and desperate people.

Mrs Loh also brought many enquirers to Christ through the RCIA programme in the Novena Church for five years and later at the Church of St. Ignatius for three years. She helped the aged in the parish community of St. Ignatius and at various charity homes in Singapore.

She is survived by husband Alphonsus, sons Linus and Donus, and daughter Candice.

(Written with information from Dr Gabriel Oon.)

By Daniel Tay

161.jpgSINGAPORE - Many parishioners at Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace spent New Year's Eve in prayer for Father Carlo Ly who passed away peacefully two days earlier on Dec 29.

Father Ly was born on Aug 27, 1924 in the Ning Hsia Province of China. He was ordained a priest in Rome on Dec 21, 1951. Father Ly came to Singapore in 1955 and has served in the parishes of St. Teresa, St. Francis Xavier, and Our Lady Queen of Peace where he was parish priest for 34 years till his retirement in 2001. He was also the first editor for "Hai Sing Pao", the Catholic newspaper for Chinese communities. 

"He's been here for many years, and he did a lot of the groundwork [for the groups in our parish]," shared Nicholas Lee, 59, a parishioner of Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace since he was baptized in the first batch of Chinese RCIA conducted in the parish in 1988. The Chinese RCIA first began in this parish and it was started by Father Ly. He also started the first Mandarin-speaking charismatic prayer group in the diocese, and translated the Parish Renewal Experience programme into Mandarin for his parish.

Since his collapse from a stroke on Oct 1 last year, and his subsequent admittance to the hospital, Father Ly spent his remaining two months in St. Joseph's Home where he regained some ability to speak, and was able to recognize familiar faces, until he passed away.

"He was a peaceful man, very supportive and participative of our activities," said Teresa Wong, recalling how she accompanied Father Ly in his weekly pastoral visits to parishioners at homes and hospitals. "A lot of the elderly people here recognize him."

Indeed many of them were present at the wake held in the church hall from Dec 29 to Jan 1 where the various English-speaking and Mandarin-speaking church groups took turns to pray for the soul of their much-loved priest, a reflection on the harmony between the groups encouraged by Father Ly.

The funeral Mass was celebrated at the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace on the morning of Jan 2. Father Ly leaves behind two sisters in China, and one clan nephew who is a priest in Inner Mongolia.

CatholicNews published part one of Father Albert Renckens' reflection titled "Are homosexuals welcome in the Catholic Church?" in the last issue (CN, Jan 7). We have received many letters commenting on it. Here are some of them.

Are we really ignorant?

Priest's view is disturbing

Mixed feelings

Shocked

Not in line with church teaching

More confident now in serving church

I AM GRATEFUL that after so many years, we are finally brave enough to broach this subject on homosexuality and the church. This is a rather sensitive and controversial topic that many may still not be able to accept.

I myself have orientation towards people of my own sex. For many years, hard as I tried to lead a good life and do good deeds (according to the Catholic Church) I found no peace. I couldn't understand why God or the church would be disapproving if I were to pick someone of the same sex to love faithfully and wholeheartedly. I had struggled to accept this part of the teachings.

Much as I was eager and wanted to serve in ministries, I always feared that I will not be a good witness as being homosexual seemed to be contrary to church teaching. I thus felt unaccepted and hung my head down most of the time, even those times when I served in the various church ministries.

One day, I was attending a retreat when it suddenly dawned on me, that whatever the church teaches is for us to live in harmony and build the community, not to tell us plainly right from wrong. I realized that it was my feelings of guilt of being in a homosexual relationship that kept me from being who I can be. I decided to lift this part of me to God and I found the conviction and strength to stay single.

I would not expect all homosexuals to choose to stay single. I have heard that being close or in a relationship with another may not be sinful as long as we do not engage in physical activity, just like heterosexual couples. Is it true?

I am also trying to understand what is there for them if they cannot crystallize their love in marriage and feed the relationship with loving physical gestures. Is there a way for them to let themselves fall in love yet be faithful witnesses of God?

At times I still yearn for a permanent relationship which will be acceptable and supported by my family and friends, which does not seem possible as I find it really hard to find that connection with people of the opposite sex, but I thank God for giving me all these experiences to learn and grow from and especially the peace that I get from living a celibate life.

Having read the article, I am happy and feel more confident in serving in ministries knowing that I will still be welcomed and loved by the church. I am looking forward to the next part of the article.

    "Someone trying to be faithful"

Singapore

(Editor's note: The real name of the writer is not disclosed here for obvious reasons.)