A look at how some parishes are celebrating Advent and Christmas this year
Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour parishioners picking out gift requests, in the form of star-shaped notepads. The parish started an initiative to reach out to the less privileged in their community. Photo: ISAAC LEO
Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour
When it comes to Christmas, the first thing that comes to mind for most people is receiving gifts. But what about the less privileged? What about those who do not have anyone to buy them presents?
In an effort to reach out to some of these people, the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (OLPS) started an initiative known as the Wish Upon A Star project.
The initiative, undertaken on a parish level for the first time, hopes to spread the love and the spirit of communion among everyone in the OLPS community.
From Nov 18 to Dec 25, parishioners can do their part in bringing Christmas joy to the less privileged by fulfilling a gift request.
These requests come in the form of star-shaped notepads that hang on the Christmas tree found in the parish foyer.
Parishioners can pick a star containing a gift request, within an affordable cost range, and make a pledge to fulfil the wish by making purchases of the items.
Once the purchase has been made, parishioners will liaise with the organisers to facilitate the delivery of the items to the recipient.
Examples of the requests include bedsheets, an oven toaster, a radio and a rice cooker.
Before making a gift request, recipients first have to be nominated by somebody and their requests have to be reviewed by the parish organisers. Identities of the recipients are kept confidential.
According to the parish, more than 100 “star requests” have already been taken up by parishioners.
Ms Samantha Chan, from the OLPS Communications Office, said she hoped the project could “help somebody whom we otherwise, wouldn’t be able to do so in our daily routine. It would be nice if this project acts as a catalyst to bring people together.”
Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
A fundraiser was held over two weekends at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary prior to the
Dec 17 visit to 1,000 migrants workers residing in a dormitory in Jurong. Collections from the fundraiser
went to the purchase of food and toiletries for these workers.
Over at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM), the parish partnered with ACMI (Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants & Itinerant People) to reach out to migrant workers during this Christmas season.
Titled the IHM Advent project, the initiative will see about 100 volunteers distribute packets of food and toiletries to 1,000 migrants workers residing at Blue Stars Dormitory in Jurong on Dec 17.
This is the first time such an initiative has been held on a parish level.
Some of the items that the workers will receive are ponni rice, basic toiletries and Red Bull can drinks.
To further serve these workers, the volunteers would be serving nasi bryani during dinner while they have fellowship.
Simple games and Christmas carols will also be organised as part of the entertainment for the workers.
The organising committee of the project included the St Vincent De Paul Society (SSVP) of the parish and the RCIA team.
Church of St Mary of the Angels
The 2015 Advent pageant play in the Church of St Mary of the Angels. A similar play was scheduled
to take place this Advent touching on certain issues in the world today such as the Syrian refugee crisis.
To raise awareness of certain issues facing the world today, the Church of St Mary of the Angels is scheduled to organise an Advent pageant play for parishioners.
The plight of the refugee crisis in Syria is one of the issues the play, titled Xodus, touches on. It highlights the plight of groups of people escaping their oppressive homelands to seek a better life abroad. The journey is met with unforeseen challenges and struggles but through it all, each character slowly finds his conversion experience and comes to know of a God who is with them and continues to give them hope.
The play was scheduled to run on Dec 16 as part of the faith formation programme for the lower secondary youth and on Dec 17 for the parish.
In 2015, the parish held a similar pageant play titled The Calling. The play sought to challenge audience members in giving themselves to others, just as Christ did.
Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea
Children from the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea performing at the Christmas pageant last year.
A similar pageant will be held this before the 9pm children’s Mass on Christmas Eve.
Children from the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea (OLSS) were scheduled to perform a Christmas pageant for the public at the Nee Soon East Courtyard on Dec 17.
The 30 children, aged 12 and below, were invited by the Nee Soon East Community Club.
Organised by the OLSS Youth in collaboration with the catechists, the children will also perform for the parish congregation before the 9pm children’s Mass on Christmas Eve.
A similar pageant was held last year before the midnight Mass in the church.
Church of St Francis Xavier
Left: A parishioner hanging a prayer intention card for someone to return to God.
Right: A child placing a Church of St Francis Xavier fiesta invitation card to one of the houses
within the neighbourhood of the parish.
Recognising the urgency of rekindling the faith of Catholics, the Church of St Francis Xavier started a prayer initiative to try and bring back to church those who have drifted from God or become disillusioned by the Church.
Titled “CHRISTmas 4 Everyone”, parishioners are encouraged to put the names of friends and loved ones whom they would like to see return to God on two available “prayer trees” in the church throughout Advent.
Prayers for these people are offered up at Masses.
As an added personal step, parishioners are also encouraged to personally reach out to the people they have lifted up in prayer.
“We printed … cards to be handed out as personal invitations because we wanted to make it as easy as possible for the average parishioner to reach out, to invite these same people they are praying for, to come join us at Mass over Christmas,” said parish priest Fr Brian D’Souza.
The parish is also taking evangelisation one step further with plans for a fiesta on Dec 30 from 7pm-10pm.
In line with the same theme, an evening of fun and fellowship has been planned as an outreach initiative, starting with households in the immediate neighbourhood who have been invited to the fiesta.
Every parishioner is encouraged to invite anyone who might be alone or away from home this Christmas, or just plain curious about the Church or how it marks Christmas, to come and spend
the evening on the church grounds.
Aside from food and refreshments, children’s activities are being planned, alongside carolling and a pageant.
“It is our way of offering genuine Christian hospitality and to say ‘thank you’ to our neighbours, to share with all guests the joy of the season, recognising that Jesus was born to bring hope and joy to all,” said Fr Brian.
The wider parish has been mobilised by the organising committee for involvement at all levels – from personally dropping off invites in the neighbourhood, to baking for the fiesta, manning the stalls and providing child-minding services.