Catholic Engaged Encounter Singapore marks a significant milestone

Cutting the Catholic Engaged Encounter’s 35th anniversary cake: (from left) Msgr Ambrose Vaz, Lilly and Steven Yeo, and Fr Aloysius Ong.

Catholic Engaged Encounter (CEE) Singapore celebrated its 35th anniversary at Agape Village on Sept 23.

Attended by more than 150 people who have benefited from the programme, the celebrations commenced with a thanksgiving Mass and an acknowledgement of the contribution of the first batch of Engaged Encounter presenters and participants.

CEE is a Catholic marriage preparation programme designed for couples thinking of or planning to be married in the Catholic Church. It spans 32 countries over 12 regions. Singapore belongs to the East Asia region together with China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The Sept 23 celebration included the renewal of marriage vows of couples present as well as the commissioning of the new Singapore CEE board and presenters and the recommitment of existing members to the CEE community.

Separately over the same weekend, CEE delegates from the East Asia region gathered at the Marriage Encounter House in Punggol for the CEE 7th East Asia Conference.

Held once every three years, this conference provides a platform for participants to share the challenges they face in their home countries, explore solutions and discuss future plans with members from other countries.

Delegates listening to a speaker at the CEE 7th East Asia Conference.

Among the five territories, CEE China saw the greatest growth. In a mere three years, the programme spread to eight dioceses, over four provinces. This is because the dioceses see a great need for a formalised form of Catholic marriage preparation in China.

Patrick and Linette Hia, who were re-elected as East Asia regional coordinators for the third term running, said that it was inspiring to listen to their fellow members share about the developments in their countries.

The couple shared that they had a better understanding of the problems other delegates faced and shared the joys of their successes.

When asked for what advice they would give to engaged couples, Mrs Hia said, “Many couples tend to put a lot of time and effort to make their wedding day memorable. However as our tagline goes, ‘A wedding is a day, a marriage is a lifetime.’ We hope more couples will realise the importance of preparing for their marriage instead.”

CEE in Singapore

Thirteen couples attended the very first CEE weekend in Singapore in 1982. To date, CEE Singapore has conducted 564 weekends and served up to 15,000 couples getting married.

Steven and Lilly Yeo, the newly re-elected coordinators of CEE Singapore, noted that it was the selfless response, courage and obedience to the Holy Spirit of the CEE pioneers that built the ministry to what it is today.

Participants and presenters of the very first Engaged Encounter weekend in 1982.

Over the years, the ministry has seen an increase in the number of interfaith couples attending the programme. About 60 percent of all couples participating belong to this category.

According to CEE Singapore, this highlights a pressing need for the ministry to adapt its content to support the needs of such couples, on top of juggling the demanding schedule of conducting an average of 14 weekends per year.

Couples who are interested to support CEE Singapore in its mission of preparing engaged couples for marriage may email [email protected] for more information.