Sr Theresa Seow, from the Archdiocesan Catholic Council for Interreligious Dialogue, speaking at the Singapore Islamic Hub. The moderator (seated) is Mr Vivek Kumra from the Hindu Endowments Board.

Sr Theresa Seow delivers interfaith lecture on ‘Seeking Spirituality’

Contemplation is important to keep a person on track in his spiritual journey.

Canossian Sr Theresa Seow made this comment during her lecture, Seeking Spirituality in the 21st Century, at the Singapore Islamic Hub on Sept 6.

According to her, to contemplate is to exercise patience.

With the proliferation of information in today’s world, and people’s obsession with power and status, one has to make time to be quiet, to reflect and contemplate, said the nun, who is the vice-chairperson of the new Archdiocesan Catholic Council for Interreligious Dialogue (archCCID).

About 300 people including Buddhists, Catholics, Hindus, Methodists and Muslims, attended the interreligious lecture held at Braddell Road. Religious leaders from various faiths were also present.

The Abdul Aleem Siddique Memorial Lecture, organised by the Muslim community for the third year running, is targeted primarily at youth groups and activists within the various faiths to promote greater understanding on humanity issues.

In her talk, Sr Theresa offered “contemplation” as the “sixth C” to counter society’s emphasis on the 5Cs – cash, condominium, credit card, car and country club membership.

Contemplation is needed because “a lot of people are saying, ‘I don’t have a religion but I have spirituality’,” she said.

The nun noted that people’s general sentiment on spirituality these days is “I’m off to find that space for myself in the mountains and at the sea” and “I don’t need to go to a church, a temple or a mosque”.

However, Sr Theresa said she believes that religion and spirituality go hand-in-hand.

“Without spirituality, there is no religion. Without religion, spirituality cannot be communicated,” she said.

During her talk, Sr Theresa also highlighted the similarities in the way different religions are organised, such as by having a creed or shared beliefs within the community, a code of conduct, rituals and acts of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity.

A question-and-answer session followed.

One participant, Mr Muhd Azfar Anwar, who was studying in Egypt until the current unrest made him return home, commented that “it is harder to find spirituality in Singapore”.

He added that it is time for the nation to “redefine” its “concept of progress”, to which Sr Theresa agreed.

Participants CatholicNews spoke to said they enjoyed the lecture.

Ms Nur’aini binte Sidik, 25, said she found it “very enlightening” while Mr Teo Heng Hao, 23, from the Buddhist Fellowship Youth, said he found it “good” and “in-depth”.

Ms Denise Ho, 24, from the Church of St Mary of the Angels, felt that the “event was wonderful in creating common ground for different religions”.

“Seeing religious leaders representing their individual faiths and getting along so well is a real inspiration for me as a believer,” she said.

The annual Abdul Aleem Siddique Memorial Lecture is organised by the Harmony Centre, a key initiative of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS).

According to Mr Ustaz Ali, head of Harmony Centre, the lecture aims to “give a platform” to spiritual leaders “to share about global and national issues that are close to their heart”.

By Clara Lai
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