… Catholics told at World AIDS Day Mass held on Nov 27 

Items such as rosaries and candles made by people living with HIV and AIDS were on sale at the Church of of the Holy Family during the World AIDS Day Mass.

“Catholics have a responsibility to respect and reach out to those living with HIV/AIDS,” said Fr Kenson Koh, spiritual director of Catholic AIDS Response Effort (CARE).

“However, more often than not, we discriminate against them,” he said in his homily during this year’s World AIDS Day Mass.

The event was organised by CARE, a Catholic Charity under Caritas Singapore, which cares for and supports people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs).

CARE runs a shelter home in Singapore for some of these people.

About 1,000 people attended the Mass at the Church of the Holy Family on Nov 27. World AIDS Day is observed annually around the world on Dec 1.

“We have to accept them [PLWHAs] as fellow brothers and sisters and as children of God,” said Fr Kenson.

“Today, if a person cannot keep up with technology they become distant from their
peers. They feel excluded and lonely.

“Those feelings of exclusion and loneliness are what our brothers and sisters living with HIV and AIDS feel on a day to day basis,” said Fr Kenson. “It is our duty as practising Catholics to extend a merciful hand to them.”

Although the Jubilee Year of Mercy recently closed on Nov 20, Fr Kenson encouraged Catholics to continue to do works of mercy as a form of outreach to PLWHAs.

“Simple gestures like praying for them and giving materially [monetary donations] can go a long way.”

Prayers for PLWHAs were also offered up during the Mass.

After Mass, there was a sale of items such as rosaries, candles and crucifixes made by the CARE residents.

A large number of people flocked to the booth and purchased some of these items.

Members and volunteers of CARE were also on hand to share with people the charity’s mission and programmes.

Ms Janelle Soh, a parishioner, said she was initially unaware of the occasion but said that she was glad to be able to pray for those living with HIV/AIDS.

She added that she was planning to buy a large number of items made by CARE residents for her family as well as for Christmas gifts.

Ms Marian Sim, a parishioner from the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea, brought her family for the special Mass so they could “show support and love for those living with HIV and AIDS”.

Previous World Aids Day Masses have been held at different parishes to raise awareness of the plight of PLWHAs in the archdiocese.

Some of the past venues include the Churches of St Vincent de Paul, St Mary of the Angels and Holy Spirit. 

By Jared Ng
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