MARCH 08, 2015, Vol 65, No 05

Retreatants gather at the opening session of Quieting the Soul retreat in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Retreatants gather at the opening session of Quieting the Soul retreat in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Nestled among housing board flats in Jurong West is a three-storey building occupied by two congregations of Sisters.

One of these is the Religious of the Cenacle, which was founded in France in 1826. Their charism is to “accompany others as they search for meaning and direction in life, explore relationships” with self, others and God.

The Sisters accompany retreatants in directed retreats from three to 30 days. They also direct those who make the retreat in daily life, which can last up to eight months.

In addition, they conduct workshops for total human development and help out in other forms of spiritual formation.

Commenting on the reluctance of most people to make silent directed retreats, Sr Francisca Tan said, “The atmosphere of silence is something that is gradually experienced as essential to encountering God in prayer.”
Mexican Sister Leticia C Lopez. Verbum Dei Missionary FraternityMexican Sister Leticia C Lopez. Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity
When was the last time you had fun?
At the last outing with my community in November 2014. We learnt a great deal about history and old buildings, historical sites, museums, and others. It was fun, relaxing and a tremendous gift.

Name an occasion you felt embarrassed/humiliated.
Part of my community’s training was to go on short mission. An activity was to deliver a talk. I prepared very diligently and was quite excited to share the Good News with the group. A few minutes into the sharing I suddenly went blank! About 50 pairs of eyes were fixed on me yet no words came from my mouth! Up to today I remember perfectly the day and time!

Name an occasion/incident when you felt God was far away.
My father passed away in 2002 and I was out of the country. I felt a great emptiness as I sat in the plane for a very long flight home. I knew I would not be able to talk to my father again. It was something I loved doing and wanted to do for the last time.
Indian Jesuit Fr Alexis Prem Kumar, who was kidnapped for more than eight months, speaks on a cell phone after his release. CNS photoIndian Jesuit Fr Alexis Prem Kumar, who was kidnapped for more than eight months, speaks on a cell phone after his release. CNS photo
NEW DELHI – A Jesuit priest kidnapped in Afghanistan and held for eight months told reporters “God has saved me”, but said he did not want to discuss details of his captivity.

Jesuit Fr Alexis Prem Kumar, kidnapped on June 2 in Afghanistan’s Herat province, was flown to New Delhi from Kabul on Feb 22 with the intervention of the Indian government.

“First of all, I thank God almighty. I thought I would never be safe. God has saved me,” Fr Kumar, 47, told Catholic News Service in an interview at the Ashoka Hotel, where he met with family and friends.

He thanked everyone for their prayers: “the Vatican, the Jesuits, the [Jesuit Refugee Service] and all.”
Kenneth and Suelynn Koh with daughter Dawn (standing, extreme right) are joined by the couple’s parents, Willie and Teresa Koh (standing, centre) and Allen and Irene van der Beek (far left). Seated: Suelynn’s sister, Maylynn and husband Edwin Rozells with Elizabeth, their daughter.Kenneth and Suelynn Koh with daughter Dawn (standing, extreme right) are joined by the couple’s parents, Willie and Teresa Koh (standing, centre) and Allen and Irene van der Beek (far left). Seated: Suelynn’s sister, Maylynn and husband Edwin Rozells with Elizabeth, their daughter.
Over 250 people took to Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza in Orchard Road on Feb 14 to show passersby that long-lasting marriages and strong families are possible today.

Holding signs stating the number of years they have been together, married couples and their children held their poses for five minutes in a freeze flash mob.

Timed for Valentine’s Day, the event was also to observe World Marriage Day, which falls on the second Saturday of February.

First organised in 2011 by Marriage Encounter (ME) Singapore, this year’s event is the biggest to date. The 2011 event and the second one in 2012 gathered 50 couples each.

The initiative has been adopted this year in other ME communities. Six Spanish cities – Alicante, Badajoz, Madrid, Sevilla,Valencia and Zaragoza – held flash mobs simultaneously on Feb 14, as did the city of Coban in Guatemala.
Fr Thomas Sukotriraharjo anointing the sick on Feb 11.Fr Thomas Sukotriraharjo anointing the sick on Feb 11.
Thirty elderly, sick and infirm parishioners of Blessed Sacrament Church were the special guests at an annual Mass held for them on Feb 11, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

The Mass was organised by the parish’s Pastoral Care Team (PCT) and assisted by the Legion of Mary’s Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Praesidium. It aimed to bring the sick and housebound for Mass, to receive anointing with holy oil, and to meet up with the priests and friends at least once a year.

In his homily, Fr Thomas Sukotriraharjo urged the crowd to reflect on Mary’s role in interceding for people’s needs and sufferings.

The priest, from the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, encouraged the sick to nourish themselves spiritually through the Word of God, personal prayer and the sacraments.

Anointing of the sick with holy oil followed, which proved to be a moving experience for participants.

“When Fr Thomas prayed over me, I felt the presence of Jesus,” said Ms Elizabeth Yap. “I was relieved and peaceful.”

Ms Juliana Chew shared, “It was a happy and special moment for me. I also prayed to Our Lady for patience and tolerance to bear my pain and discomfort.”