Christian unity has certainly come a long way in Singapore.
It started from humble beginnings back in 1990 when the first Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service was initiated by the late Jesuit Father John Wood at the Church of St Ignatius. Today, a passionate community of Christian leaders continue to foster ecumenical relations.
Along this journey, many friendships have been built between the various Christian leaders and representatives. Whether at informal gatherings or official ecumenical events, Monsignor Philip Heng, Vicar General (Ecumenical Relations) believes such get-togethers can only “lead to the growth in mutual respect of each other’s denominations with the building of unity in diversity”. Without such a bond, “the theological exchange would not be effective,” he said.
Msgr Heng added that such gatherings have resulted in an increase in the participation of Christian leaders at the annual Archdiocesan Interreligious Christmas celebration where representatives of different religions come together.
“This trend is very encouraging and I believe is the fruits of our ecumenical friendships,” he said.
Over the years, the Christian unity service has included the recitation of the Nicene Creed and the Our Father prayer. The sign of peace was also introduced to further emphasise a oneness among all Christians.
Held annually from Jan 18-25, the services this year were spread across four days at different churches. They were organised by the Archdiocesan Catholic Council for Ecumenical Dialogue and host churches.
On Jan 18 at the St Thomas Orthodox Syrian Cathedral at Yio Chu Kang Road, Rev Aniyan K. Paul, from the CSI Immanuel Congregation, reflected on the theme for the services this year, “Justice, only justice, you shall pursue”.
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To specifically support leadership in schools, the Council of Catholic Schools’ Principals (CCSP) was formed in 2016 as a constituted body within ACCS. CCSP, comprising all principals of our 35 Catholic schools, supports principals in implementing a Catholic education that is based on a vision of the Gospel. Our schools will be places where faith and knowledge meet. Our schools will be places where our children are developed to become just and compassionate citizens for God and for society.
Archbishop William Goh with the newly commissioned principals (from left): Ms Pauline Fun, Mdm Rachel Ang, Ms Ow Yang Jing Yi, Mrs Karen Tan, Mdm Rebecca Ng, Ms Loh Sing Huay and Mr Martin Tan. Photo: VITA Images
Catholic educators should be proud of themselves if they are able to transform the lives of students, especially those who are weak, dysfunctional, who come from difficult backgrounds, and yet today are successful in society, said Archbishop William Goh at the Commencement of School Year Mass.
In his address to principals, vice-principals, teachers, Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS) commissioners and parents, he reminded them to be clear of their mission, which is to form young people in understanding their vocation in life and their identity while nurturing them in truth and love.