FEBRUARY 21, 2016, Vol 66, No 04

KOTA KINABALU, SABAH – The family is the “foundation of society. When family units are broken, the order of society and the world will be in chaos,” said Archbishop John Wong of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, in his message for the lunar New Year, which falls on Feb 8.

He noted that it is tradition during Chinese New Year to have family reunions. He also noted that last October in Rome, Pope Francis convened the Synod of Bishops on the Family.

“At this turn of the season,” added Archbishop Wong, “people are generally preoccupied with planning... I hope that your plan will include building a family of faith and happiness.”

“With modernisation and advancement in technology, our values, especially in terms of the significance of family and its values, have changed,” he said.

“There is a growing phenomenon where people do not know how to treasure the gift of their families, as they ought. With secularisation, material wealth becomes top priority, and more time is expended at work to build a career and accumulate wealth.

“This has come at the expense of time spent in nourishing their marriages and nurturing their children,” Archbishop Wong said.
St Stephen the Martyr is seen in this mural in the Vatican. CNS photoSt Stephen the Martyr is seen in this mural in the Vatican. CNS photo
Q: The Holy Innocents were killed soon after Jesus’ birth. May I know why is St Stephen regarded as the first martyr instead of the Holy Innocents?  - Edwina Prabha D’Cruz

A: Your observation is astute. Indeed, St Stephen is regarded as the protomartyr (first martyr) and the feast of the Holy Innocents is always celebrated on the first Monday after that.

To be sure, there is no historical data to tell us the exact date of St Stephen’s death, and for that matter, neither do we have any dates for the deaths of the innocent infants killed by the murderous decree of Herod. 
 
The only difference between the deaths of St Stephen and the innocent children is that St Stephen died and was a martyr by his free will, blood and love, whilst those of the children were by their blood alone.  

It is thus most likely that because love at its purest and most selfless is demonstrated when there is a full knowledge coupled with a full willingness to give of oneself, that the Church deems that St Stephen is the first after Jesus’ death to die a true martyr’s death, and that he gets the honour of being hailed as the protomartyr.  
Society of St Vincent De Paul members at the training session at Agape Village.Society of St Vincent De Paul members at the training session at Agape Village.

It was an enlightening day for Society of St Vincent De Paul (SSVP) members as 95 of them from different parishes learned how to better understand and help their beneficiaries or Friends In Need (FINs).

The one-day training session, titled Dissecting a FIN’s DNA – A Social Perspective, was held at Agape Village on Jan 23.

The session opened with a short reflection on mercy taken from Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, the 2013 apostolic exhortation on the Church’s primary mission of evangelisation in the modern world.

This was followed by a personality test that allowed members to better identify the way they approach interaction by identifying their strengths and weaknesses.

Mr James Tay, president of Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary’s SSVP conference, said he found it “very useful as it provided each of us with an understanding of our personality type.
Dr Chan Keen Loong speaking during the talk on Understanding Dementia. He suggested steps that caregivers can take to slow down the deterioration of dementia in a patient.Dr Chan Keen Loong speaking during the talk on Understanding Dementia. He suggested steps that caregivers can take to slow down the deterioration of dementia in a patient.Early detection and prevention also highlighted

About 200 participants attended a talk on Understanding Dementia at Agape Village in Toa Payoh on Jan 23. It was organised by Church mental health charity, Clarity Singapore, in partnership with Total Health Rich In Vitality and Energy (THRIVE), a community mental health programme managed by Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

As part of its efforts to promote mental well-being, Clarity organised the talk to educate people on how to prevent and detect dementia and how to treat the condition.

Dr Chan Keen Loong, head and senior consultant of the Department of Psychological Medicine at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, was the speaker at the event.

In his talk, Dr Chan explained that the dementia in most patients is often either Alzheimer’s dementia, which is caused by abnormal protein deposits that destroy neurotransmitters; or vascular dementia (stroke), caused by a lack of blood flow that deprives the brain of food and oxygen, resulting in cell death.
The children with their parents before Mass at the Church of St Anthony.The children with their parents before Mass at the Church of St Anthony.

It was a day to remember for seven children from the Syro-Malabar rite community as they received the Sacraments of first Holy Communion and Confirmation on Jan 30.

The Mass, held at the Church of Anthony, was celebrated by Franciscan Fr Salim Joseph, chaplain of the Archdiocesan Commission for Malayalam Apostolate.

The Mass was celebrated in Malayalam.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is one of the 22 Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome. It traces its origins back to India along with the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic community has been in existence in Singapore since 2000.