Participants taking part in praise and worship during the Conference for New Evangelisation held on Nov 19 and 20.
“Serve the Lord with all your gifts!” This call to action was the theme of the Conference for New Evangelisation held at Holy Innocents’ High School on Nov 19 and 20.
It was organised by the Singapore Archdiocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal (SACCRE) and the Office for the New Evangelisation (ONE).
Fr Terence Pereira, Episcopal Vicar for the New Evangelisation, set the tone for the event when, quoting 2 Timothy 2:2 in his keynote address, he exhorted the 200 participants: “We must make it our business to bring a new ‘breath’ of God’s love to the Church. Even if we feel we are not eloquent or articulate enough, we can still inspire others if we speak from our hearts, and not give in to our fears.”
Fr Ken Barker, founder and moderator of Missionaries of God’s Love, a congregation of consecrated men and women in Australia, was the main conference speaker.
He explained that Catholics need this “breath” of God to continually fan into a flame their zeal to be a missionary Church (2 Timothy 1:6). In a series of talks peppered with delightful metaphors and anecdotes, he both amused and inspired participants by asking: Do we treat Sunday Mass as a “spiritual fast-food drive-in”? Are we stuck on a “religious treadmill” where we put in a lot of effort doing the same old things for the Church but end up going nowhere spiritually? Are we “conference junkies”, always seeking spiritual input but giving nothing to others in return?
He observed that Catholics call themselves God’s chosen people, yet so often they look and act as if they are God’s “frozen” people. “We need the Holy Spirit to defrost!” he exclaimed, to much laughter.
Over the course of the weekend, interspersed with lively praise and worship by the SACCRE Youth and El-Shaddai music ministries, Fr Ken also led participants into times of ministering and healing with the exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
In the Mass marking the end of the Year of Mercy and the Feast of Christ the King, concelebrated by SACCRE’s spiritual director, Carmelite Fr Tom Curran, Fr Ken reminded participants that Jesus was pinned to the crucifix not by the nails but by His love for us. Like the good thief, Catholics must “stand up for Jesus” by publicly professing their faith in Him, acknowledging their sins and asking for forgiveness, so that they can share His love and mercy with others.
Mr Clement Prasobhan, 41, of the Church of St Anthony, was particularly struck by Fr Ken’s analogy of a maintenance-mode Church with a fishermen’s club whose members meet regularly to sit, eat, drink and talk about fish, nets, boats and do anything but actually go fishing.
He said: “Now I will spend more time ‘fishing’ rather than studying about how to fish and talking about fishing theories my whole life.”
Ms Betty Ong, 69, an RCIA candidate at the Church of the Holy Spirit, felt the power of the Holy Spirit during the praying-over session. “As an Anglican, I could relate to our heavenly Father and Jesus. Now I also know who the Holy Spirit is – and how much God really loves me!”
Sr Marie de Roza, 72, was very happy to have attended the conference. “I am recharged and renewed! I was baptised in the Holy Spirit 40 years ago during a Life In The Spirit Seminar at the Church of the Risen Christ, but after many years overseas as a missionary … I was becoming tired and spiritually dry. Now I am convicted and on fire to serve in my next assignment as a catechist in Canossa Convent!”
One of the events leading up to the two-day conference was the Evangelical Rally on Nov 16.
Titled The King of God is at Hand, it saw 700 people gather at the Church of the Risen Christ on Nov 16 for a time of praise and prayer.
Of that 700, 180 were participants and service members from the Church of St Anthony Life in the Spirit Seminar.
Fr Ken Barker, in his talk, emphasised the love and mercy of God when he elaborated on the title of the event. He said that God in His love has sent His Son, Jesus, and the love of God is available to all no matter how sinful they are. He told of the many people Jesus ministered love to including the adulterous woman. They were set free and were transformed as they experienced the forgiveness and love of God.
Fr Ken then led the prayer for the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. The powerful presence of God could be felt as he prayed in tongues. The outpouring of God’s love was followed by the laying of hands for healing.
Mr Yek Tin Hang attended the rally with his family. Sharing that they were Methodists attending an RCIA programme, Mr Yek said he felt reinvigorated by Fr Ken’s talk, especially his description about Jesus’ forgiveness. He felt as if it was God extending His forgiveness and mercy to him.
By Michelle Voo
Young people learn about community at forum
Fr Ken Barker speaking to young people who attended the Nov 15 youth forum.
Youth communities must be evangelising and outward focused.
This was one of the points highlighted by Fr Ken Barker during a Youth Forum titled Building Evangelising Youth Communities.
About 70 young people, from various communities such as Jesus Youth Singapore and the Office for Young People (OYP), attended the forum held at the Catholic Archdiocesan Education Centre on Nov 15.
It was organised by the Singapore Archdiocese Catholic Charismatic Renewal (SACCRE) Youth.
On building communities, Fr Ken emphasised several points:
• Christian communities must be Christ-centred. This means that the social aspect of a community comes second.
• Christian communities must proclaim the crucified Christ.
• All communities need the power of the Holy Spirit. Without it, there is no life in the community.
• Youth communities must be brought into the wider community like the parish and in families.
Fr Ken added that he believes in youth-to-youth evangelisation, as the best people to reach out to youths are their own peers.
A question-and-answer segment followed the talk.
One participant asked whether it is good to have gender-based sharing groups.
Fr Ken shared that in his community, there are separate communities for men and women. Moreover, certain topics like sexuality are best dealt with in such separate groups. However, there are times when mixed group sharings are fruitful.
Another question touched on why young people today have problems committing to Church communities.
Fr Ken told the audience that this problem is felt worldwide due to the current culture that influences people to avoid commitment. This is seen in marriages and vocations to the priesthood and Religious life.