children doodling
Children writing their prayers for the refugees. Photo: Margaret Chooi

By Catherine Chia

Parishioners of the Church of St Ignatius were called to unite in prayer for the Rohingya refugees during the month of October. Beginning on Oct 7, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) put up a Prayer Awareness Display over three weekends for parishioners to reflect on the plight of the refugees in Myanmar.

The foyer in front of the main church played host to pictures and contemplations on the refugee crisis, their living conditions, and the struggles they are facing.

According to estimates by JRS Asia Pacific and the International Organisation for Migration, 582,000 refugees have fled from Myanmar to Bangladesh in the past two months, posing a massive humanitarian crisis.

“It’s heartbreaking what people are going through out there – even getting clean water is a big challenge,” shared parishioner Li Liya, 40, after viewing the display with her daughter.

Accompanying the display was a prayer wall where hundreds of parishioners scribbled their prayers for the refugees on colourful Post-its, or stopped by to read the prayers others had written and stuck on the wall.

Many children took the opportunity to doodle their own little contributions to the prayer effort.

viewing display
Parishioners viewing the Prayer Awareness Display on the plight of the Rohingya refugees. Photo: Hannah Ng

The church also held a prayer service on Oct 17, dedicated to the Rohingya and other refugees from Myanmar, which was attended by about 70 people.

The service started with the Divine Mercy chaplet followed by guided reflections led by the Divine Mercy Prayer Group and JRS. This was followed by intercessory prayers during the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. The prayer service ended with a benediction by Jesuit Fr Matthew Tan, who invited participants to open their hearts, like Jesus did, to the refugees in this time when the need for Christian hospitality is so much greater.

“Who knows – we could be welcoming angels like Abraham and Sarah,” said Fr Matthew on how Catholics should respond to the issue of refugees and migrants among us.

JRS Asia Pacific Advocacy Officer Elphie Galland requested the following prayer intentions from Catholics in Singapore:

— For the end of indiscriminate violence.
— For every human being to be treated with respect and dignity.
— For neighbouring countries to show solidarity with the most vulnerable.
— For people of influence to persuade governments to find a comprehensive political solution to the issue of statelessness that is affecting the Rohingya people.
— For reconciliation and justice among all groups in Myanmar.
— For the Rohingya to have hope.

prayer service Ignatius
Prayer service dedicated to the Rohingya and other refugees from Myanmar. Photo: Jeremy Lim