APRIL 13, 2008, Vol 58, No 8
IT STARTED as an orphanage for boys and girls run by the Canossian Sisters. Almost 70 years on, the Canossaville Children’s Home remains committed to helping disadvantaged children. But over the years, the home has evolved, coming up with a programme to help latchkey children and those with special needs.
In 1983, it started the Before and After Student Care Service now called the Student Care Service, in response to the rising number of children returning to an empty home after school because both parents were still at work. There are now 80 children in this programme.
At Canossaville, they have their meals and are supervised while doing their homework. The centre aims to provide a conducive environment “for children to be formed in the head and heart”, executive director Anne Siew says. So time is also set aside for moral education, as well as indoor activities like board games, computer work and reading. To help children with learning difficulties, its Total Learning
Centre provides individualised attention. The student care service also helps children with special needs, especially those who are hearing-impaired. It became an Integrated Special Student Care Centre in November 2004. Canossaville however still holds true to the very aim it was founded on and continues to be a refuge for children.
The children it takes in now are mostly girls. There are now 11 girls aged 12 and below and most are from troubled or singleparent homes. While it provides the girls a place to stay, Canossaville also hopes to help reintegrate them with their families. “The number of residents we have is very low because we don’t want to institutionalise these children.
We try our best to help them go back to their families,” Madam Siew explained. Because most of the children the home reaches out to are from dysfunctional families, plenty of emotional and psychological support is needed, she said. At the end of the day, her hope is that all the children who come to Canossaville will become happy, confident, resilient.
About Canossaville Children’s Home
It was founded in 1941 by the Canossian Sisters as an orphanage. It is now open mainly to girls and has 11 residents. It also offers a student care service for latchkey children and has 80 children in this programme.
Can you help?
About 20 volunteers help out on a weekly basis. There are also corporate volunteers who
help regularly. The home welcomes more volunteers, especially those who help with the
student care service during the day. Canossaville also welcomes donations.
Who to call
Call Executive Director Anne Siew at 6748 5777 or
You can also go to: www.catholic.org.sg/canossaville
QUESTION: If we donate generously to charity but do nothing to address the systems that prevent the disadvantaged from rising up in society, have we practised Christian love? And does it matter whether we give money to the poor out of the kindness of our heart, or because we believe that it is their due? Yes it does matter, for the Church draws a distinction between the two virtues of charity and justice, and says that one must not be mistaken for the other.
Charity commonly refers to works of mercy to relieve human need of every kind. Justice, on the other hand, is to render to one’s neighbour his or her due, addressing the root causes of problems and resolving unfairness and inequalities. In the Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People issued by the Second Vatican Council, the Church highlighted the difference between the two.
It says: “It is imperative that the freedom and dignity of the person being helped be respected with the utmost consideration; that the purity of one’s charitable intentions be not stained by seeking one’s own advantage or by striving for domination; and especially that the demands of justice be satisfied. That which is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity.” (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 8) Here, the Church clues us in on why the distinction between charity and justice matters.
The explanation hinges on respect for each person’s freedom and dignity. Central to the Church’s social teaching is the belief that every person is made in the image of God. Thus, what is due to each person - without exception – includes the means necessary to live his or her life with dignity. Hence are we giving people what should have been due to them in the first place according to their human dignity? That is the benchmark against which we assess the justness of our own actions and those of our society.
Every day we are faced with this choice. For example, as consumers, we love a good bargain but do we consider whether the lower price of a product or service has resulted from compromising on some workers’ safety or well-being? Or perhaps the workers might have been underpaid? You might say these workers entered a contract with their eyes wide open and technically, no law has been flouted. But is this just? Justice demands that we ask what has compelled these workers to accept poor working conditions and what has caused this situation. More importantly, have we contributed to it by what we have done or not done?
The Church’s social teachings also remind us that it is unjust to keep consuming and accumulating more than we need, not questioning the means by which we have made our money or whether we have deprived someone else of the earth’s resources, even if we occasionally give some of our surplus money to charity. The Church upholds that what is due to each person must be decided based on both that person’s contribution and needs. A proper understanding of justice will lead us to help see to it that our society is set up so as to ensure that each person receives his or her due, especially those who are most marginalised.
Do our current laws, systems and practices contribute to a just end? If not, what can we do to address this? This is where the call to work for justice can be unsettling, because it challenges us to question some social norms that we have grown up with and feel attached to. And the more comfortable we are within the system, the less we will want to change the status quo.
We instinctively sense that if the structures are changed, we will have to change along with them and that could well be painful! We must remember that the Church calls us to practise both charity and justice, which are the hallmarks of a Christian. Our lives need to show the fruits of both qualities so that the world might indeed become a better place. Only then will we truly be salt of the earth and light of the world. - CSCC
SINGAPORE – To give flesh to St. Joseph’s Institution’s (SJI) mission to nurture Josephians to become persons for others, the school’s Lent Project gave its students the opportunity to put into action what they learned during religious and moral education lessons.
Lent in SJI began with an exhortation to the school community to take time to pray, to fast and to give alms to the poor. All Secondary One Catholic students had to attend Morning Prayer and Tuesday after-school Eucharist.
A Lenten Vigil was held when 150 Catholic students belonging to the various Catholic societies had the opportunity to deepen their Lenten experience. Students participated in the Seder Meal. Groups of students took turns to keep vigil before the Blessed Sacrament from midnight till 4.30am when everyone prayed the Way of the Cross, ending with the Eucharist.
Secondary One students, who had learnt about the life and work of the Founder, St. John Baptist De La Salle, and how he had responded to the plight of the poor, contributed a food item each week of Lent to the elderly residents of Block 47 in Pek Kio; people who live in one-room flats.
Secondary Two students helped the Handicapped Welfare Association sell donation draw tickets. As part of the module to promote awareness of the challenges that physically disabled people experience, Thomas Chua, a paraplegic came to speak to the students.
Secondary Three students contributed food ration items to the shelter for AIDS sufferers run by the Catholic AIDS Response
SINGAPORE – St. Joseph’s Institution (SJI) has been ranked as a gold value-added school since the award started four years ago. The school produces high calibre students who also excel in their co-curricular activities.
SJI caters to boys with varied talents to develop them into men of integrity and men for others. Caring and dedicated teachers in the school conduct various special programmes to bring out the best in every boy.
The cohort of 2007 did exceedingly well in the 2007 GCE ‘O’ Level examinations.
The school recorded 100 percent passes for 14 subjects with 100 percent of boys with six ‘O’ Level passes. The good overall mean L1B5 (First Language and best five subjects) catapulted the school into Band One in the local school ranking by the Ministry of Education.
Top boy, Glenville Lee says, "The school’s emphasis on an all-round education has taught me to work and play hard, and always strived to push me out of my comfort zone."
Brother President Michael Broughton, FSC, says, "SJI is undergoing exciting changes. We are focusing efforts to position SJI as the leading Catholic boys’ school in Singapore. I am happy to report that our efforts are beginning to pay off as seen from our alma mater’s achievements recently."n
The preparatory session held at the Catholic Archdiocesan Youth Centre (CAYC) on Friday Mar 7 began with a video screening produced by the Archdiocese of Sydney. It was followed by the Stations of the Cross interspersed with short video clips taken from the movie "The Passion of the Christ".
"At the World Youth Day, there are two very important events that will take place – the Stations of the Cross and the Eucharistic Adoration," explained youth chaplain Father Brian D’Souza.
The second preparatory session for the Singapore contingent will be an Eucharistic Adoration on Saturday Apr 12 at the Church of the Risen Christ.
The third session will take place on Jun 21 at CAYC. Archbishop Nicholas Chia will be present for the official blessing and sending off of the contingent. -By Daniel Tay