Young participants at the Serra Eucharistic Congress, holding copies of a handbook on Catholic teachings, pose for a photo with Archbishop Nicholas Chia.

A Eucharist Congress organised by the Serra Club of Singapore has impressed upon young Catholics the importance of developing their spiritual life, participants say.

“The congress raised an awareness of the importance of the Eucharist and the need to be more devoted to Eucharistic adoration,” said Mr Daniel Tay, 22, from the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace.

“Most of us receive the Eucharist every Sunday, but we do not appreciate the power of the Holy Eucharist … and how [it] has the power to guard us from evil,” he added.

Mr Tay was one of some 200 young Catholics who attended the Serra Eucharistic Congress 2011, held at the Church of the Holy Cross from July 1-3.

Some 200 people from took Singapore and Malaysia took part in the event.

The congress, which had the theme, Be Empowered to be Holy, also attracted 14 participants from Malaysia.

The Serra Club aims to promote priestly vocations.

Two well-known priests from overseas, Fr Antoine Thomas, founder of the worldwide Children’s Eucharistic Adoration movement, and Fr Clement Machado, a Canadian-born exorcist-priest based in Rome, were the main speakers.

Fr Thomas stressed the importance of having a fervent love for the Eucharist and encouraged the youths to receive the sacraments and go to Confession frequently.

The priest, from the Congregation of St John who has organised youth events and retreats worldwide, also stressed the need for daily prayer and Eucharistic Adoration for one to draw closer to God.

During the congress, he guided participants in Eucharistic Adoration through meditative prayers and songs, readings from Bible passages as well as silent prayer and reflection.

Fr Machado spoke on the seven deadly sins, focusing on lust and its corresponding and often neglected virtue of chastity and purity. The priest, who has an international evangelisation ministry and who has hosted programmes on Vatican Radio and the Catholic EWTN network, emphasised the importance of modesty in dressing as our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

Fr Machado, who is from the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, also highlighted the dangers of New Age and occult practices such as consulting horoscopes, palm-reading and consulting mediums.

During Mass on July 2, Archbishop Nicholas Chia, blessed a handbook containing prayers and teachings of the Catholic faith compiled by the Serra Club of Singapore. This was distributed to all participants.

Francis Lee, 17, from the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, said the congress gave him a new perspective on prayer and spirituality.

He noted that there are “a lot of things in his lifestyle [which need to be] changed” and added that he would now allocate more time to prayer.

Mr Tay also added that the congress made him realise that “attaining holiness is not easy as following the plan of God requires a lot of effort and trust”.

By Leonard Yeo