Susan Pang

2020 is an unforgettable year. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected almost everyone in the world. But we, at the Church of the Holy Cross, have embraced these unprecedented circumstances.

Embracing new media

“The social distancing measures imposed by the government did not discourage us from coming together as one community of faith, hope and love. Through parish priest Fr Henry Siew’s resourcefulness and zeal, working collaboratively with Fr Robertus Sarwiseso, Fr Martin Low and ministries’ leaders, many activities continued to be carried out on the virtual platform to keep us engaged and stay bonded,” enthused Elmira Franco, of the Legion of Mary.

Indeed, online faith formation talks, virtual Eucharistic adoration and rosary sessions, and Zoom chats with the priests became our daily staple despite being confined at home, and both English and Mandarin RCIA began new intakes for inquirers.

We even started our own YouTube channel to broadcast sessions, including the feast day Masses, for those who had missed them. There were four Masses (one in Mandarin and a Triduum in English) with the themes Faith, Hope and Love, followed by the veneration of the relic of the True Cross each night, and culminating in the actual feast day Mass on Sept 14.

Keeping the kampung spirit

Instead of the traditional Feast Day Food and Funfair Carnival, two nights of community gathering were held over the weekend via Zoom. Maria va der Straaten, a catechist, shared, “In 2019 the theme of our Feast Day celebrations was kampung. This year although our celebrations were virtual, I feel they are still tailored to encourage this community spirit, with quizzes and games for the young, Bingo for the adults and live music entertainment for all to enjoy.”

As Derek Ong of the Ministry of Hospitality observed, “We were determined to carry on the tradition and truly, a communion of communities came together in planning, executing and encouraging all to join in the feast day celebrations.” What a great week we had!

Embracing our cross

Although the celebrations have come and gone, the Spirit continues to ride high, and we continue to step out in faith, hope and love, despite normalcy seeming beyond reach for yet awhile. Daniel Ng reflected, “For every crucifixion in our lives, there is always a resurrection! The Covid-19  situation feels like a crucifixion but it doesn’t stop so many resurrections from happening, including the celebration of our feast day!”

Our journey reminds me of what St Paul wrote to the Romans: “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5) As Francis Leong, an Extraordinary Minister of Communion, said, “It is indeed a Triumph of the Cross!”