AUGUST 30, 2009, Vol 59, No 18

Articles will be made available online from Monday 24th August 09.

“When I look back on my 25 years as a priest, I reflect: I have the knowledge of philosophy, theology, Canon Law, liturgy, scripture, homiletics, pastoral field and of building the church. But if I were to speak without love and act without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing, then I am nothing at all.

Since my seminary days, I have been ambitious for the higher gifts. My motto is ‘love one another as I have loved you’. I have tried very hard to put it in practice. At times I succeed, at times I fail. Till this day, I am still trying and praying for God’s help. Please pray for me ...

As the world is lacking in love, let us be instruments of God’s love as Jesus himself commanded.”

– Father John Sim, writing in his Sacerdotal Silver Jubilee commemorative book.

Father John Sim celebrated 25 years of the priesthood recently. The parish priest at Church of the Risen Christ is well known as a church-builder (both the physical structure and the community), for having a special love for the old and sick, and for his desire to live as Jesus taught, that is, to “love one another as I have loved you”, writes Joyce Gan
In this continuing series on money we look at the global financial crisis, its causes and the response by the Church at the macro, ground and individual level.

The current global financial crisis is a concern for many—foreclosed homes, bankrupted businesses, fear of and actual job loss, and diminuution of investments and life savings,

The experts have their explanations on how and why it happened. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the US Federal Reserve, describes it as "an accident waiting to happen" because of "the underpricing of risk worldwide." Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, sees the crisis as having its roots in the "savings glut" of Asia which has now led to a "global paradox of thrift." The Economist magazine follows a similar tack to blame it on "global imbalances - mainly, America's huge current-account deficit and China's huge surplus".
CHANGI Prison seems like an unlikely place for a great idea to sprout, and during war time too.

But that was where Australian philanthropist W T McDermott first suggested having a Boys' Town in Singapore, during chats with Brother Vincent of the Brothers of St Gabriel. Both were interned at Changi during the Japanese Occupation.

(Left) David Woon catechises his son Xavier through meaningful cartoons like Auto-B-Good. Photos provided by respective families

There are also parents who use the media to catechise their children. David Woon is one parent who believes “the best way to catechise kids is through the most powerful media of all – television”.
For 28 years, Ligaya Acosta was an avid promoter of contraceptives and sterilization with the department of health in the Philippines. Her life changed however, when she was designated as Program Manager for Natural Family Planning in early 2004, which led her to discover the deadly deception of contraceptives and the harm it is causing to numerous families. Now Executive director of Human Life International Asia Pacific, largest international, pro-life, pro-family, pro-woman organization in the world, and having completed a short speaking tour in Singapore she shares with Nick Chui her thoughts on promoting strong marriages.

Do contraceptives really harm marriages? Many people would think that they actually help marriages…

Theresa Lim, 77, completes another painting on rice paper to raise funds for the needy.

SINGAPORE – With swift and deft strokes of the paintbrush, Theresa Lim, 77, completed another painting on rice paper, the 10th for the Saturday afternoon. At the invitation of her daughter Serene, a parishioner of Church of St. Ignatius, Mrs Lim (from Church of the Holy Family) contributed her time and talent in Chinese painting to raise funds for the poor and needy at an Aug 8-9 weekend bazaar held at Church of St. Ignatius.

Mrs Lim said that her time and effort spent is worth it. “It’s very beautiful to be able to give to the mission. I’m just doing my part as a Christian, sharing God’s love with others. The money received from the sale paintings is out of love,” she said.
SINGAPORE – When youth leaders from Church of St. Francis of Assisi attended a communication workshop organised last year by Catholic Youth Archdiocesan Centre (CAYC) for parents and youth leaders working with youth, they found it so relevant and helpful that the team decided to rehash the workshop for their parish at Boon Lay Avenue and those in the West District.

On Monday Aug 10, Wireless@St. Francis of Assisi was held from 9.30am to 2.00pm. The speaker was Marion Neubronner, who has worked with thousands of youth. The workshop was organised to promote better communication and understanding between youth and their parents and with youth leaders.
The rain stops, and the walkathon at Pasir Ris Park begins. Father Johnson Fernandez (in the grey T-shirt), who oversees the building of the new church and parish community, walks alongside his parishioners. Photo by Valentine Ong

Church of Divine Mercy Walkathon and Family Day builds community bonds, raises building funds

SINGAPORE – Echoing the devotional words of the Divine Mercy prayer, “Jesus we trust in You”, the downpour on Monday morning Aug 10 did not wash out the enthusiasm and attendance of the 350 people who turned up for Church of Divine Mercy (CDM) Walkathon and Family Day at Pasir Ris Park.
Roman Catholic Prison Ministry to promote Yellow Ribbon Project at parishes

SINGAPORE – Every year, more than 11,000 inmates of Singapore prisons and drug rehabilitation centres are released after completing their sentence. But ex-offenders have to live with the stigma of having served time behind bars, said the Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (SCORE), “one that can often be more punishing that the prison sentence itself”. This social prison is one with “invisible bars, of suspicion, of mistrust and of discrimination”.
TO CELEBRATE ITS 50th Anniversary, the Church of St. Francis Xavier (SFX) will be holding its first ever funfair from dusk to evening, at its parish grounds on Saturday Sep 5, 2.00-9.00pm.

There will be bands, buskers, caricature artists and many other activities for all – children, youth, adults and elders – and a variety of food from different cultures, “typical of what our patron saint, St. Francis Xavier might have sampled in his journey to the Far East”, said the SFX Fun Fair 2009 Organising Committee.
DR COLIN ONG, 34, a Singaporean doctor currently pursuing full time studies at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family in Melbourne was awarded the institute’s George Cardinal Pell Prize for being the top student for the 2008-2009 semester. Dr Tracey Rowland, dean of the Institute, awarded the prize to Dr Ong at the Institute’s annual academic dinner.

Dr Ong, who decided to study fulltime for a Masters Degree in Bioethics at the Institute, shared that he felt “humbled and encouraged” at winning the prize. Some years ago, he was deeply touched by Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. His teaching, shares Dr Ong, “set me free in my masculinity and revolutionised my image of the Church. Hence, I wanted to know more about what the Catholic Church taught and found that the topics that I was interested in were available at the John Paul II institute in Melbourne.”
SINGAPORE – A painting to commemorate the feast of St. Ignatius was blessed by Jesuit Father Philip Heng on Aug 8.

The painting titled “Sinners, yet called to serve” features St. Ignatius of Loyola inviting all peoples (depicted by a man) to join the saint in his mission to serve all peoples in all places and at any time for God’s greater glory. The saint holds a book with the Jesuit motto, “Ad majorem Dei gloriam”, Latin for “For the Greater Glory of God”.

Father Henry Siew, Daniel and Shelly Ee present their item during the Gala Event of the 34th Worldwide Marriage Encounter Asian Conference 2009.
Photo provided by Father Henry Siew

DANIEL AND SHELLEY EE, the national coordinating couple of the Marriage Encounter (M.E.)and I participated in the M.E. Asian Conference (Aug 10-14) held in Tokyo. It was both a time of formation and “business” for delegates from eight Asian countries and observers from UAE and Taiwan.

The formation centred on the theme “Called by name” was given by members of Asian Coordinating Team. We reflected on the meaning of our names and on God’s purpose for each one of us calling us by these names.
A Hindu priest shows visiting Catholics a container of holy water that he uses for his rituals at Sri Krishnan Temple. Photo by Daniel Tay

SINGAPORE – Breathing in the sweet smell of incense, a group of mostly Chinese Singaporean Catholics toured a 139-year-old Hindu temple adorned with paintings of saints while Hindu priests looked on. For many, this was their first time stepping into a Hindu place of worship.

As the evening sun filtered into the temple interior, the Catholics turned their attention to the numerous idols and images adorned with gleaming gold and glittering semi-precious stones.
(Left) Peranakan songs that have not been heard for a while being played at the event. (Below) From left, Shireen Lim who helped with designing collaterals for the musical fundraising, Baba Alvin Yapp who organised this fundraising and Tay Kewei who played the ‘erhu’ and sang for the night too. Photos by

SINGAPORE – “Assisi Hospice Charity Event – A Peranakan Celebration of Favourite Local Music” has raised some $34,000 to date, for the hospice. The event was held on Jul 18 at the Joo Chiat home of Baba Alvin Yapp. (CatholicNews mistakenly called him “Alvin Ng” in “Doing good with passion” in our last issue. Our apologies to Mr Yapp and others inconvenienced by our mistake.)

Thirty-nine-year-old Mr Yapp, a parishioner at Church of the Holy Family, is a Peranakan antique collector who has been a volunteer at Assisi Hospice for some 20 years.
Dr Timothy Lee (left) conducts the choir which comprises over 20 staff from Mount Alvernia Hospital. Photo by Daniel Tay

SINGAPORE – Over 20 doctors, nurses, managers and administrators have been spending the past six months practising together during their lunch hour on Wednesdays for a choral performance that will take place in the parish of St. Mary of the Angels on Sep 11.

The performance titled “Celebrating Simplicity” is the staff’s way of commemorating the 60 years of presence of Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood (FMDM) Sisters in Singapore. The FMDM founded Mount Alvernia Hospital, the only Catholic hospital in Singapore.
A woman in prayer is dwarfed by a large cross set on a hill near Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in this file photo. The cross marks the place where in 1981 a vision of Mary was reported by six young people. Vatican officials have said that private pilgrimages to the site are permitted while the reported apparitions are investigated by the Church. CNS photo

VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI’s approval of the laicisation of Father Tomislav Vlasic is not a judgement on the claims that Mary is appearing in Medjugorje, says Father Tomislav Vlasic’s former superior, the procurator-general of the Franciscan Friars Minor.

Father Francesco Bravi told ZENIT that the laicisation was not imposed by the Holy See, but rather was in response to a request presented by Father Vlasic himself, to be dispensed both of priestly celibacy and his religious vows.

Singaporean Father Anthony Lim, CICM, has been doing missionary work in Zambia for 14 years. Here is a letter from him

DURING THE LAST 14 years of my missionary commitment in Zambia, I was assigned to three different areas. In 1995 I arrived in Ndola Diocese, in the Copperbelt Province near the border with Congo (RDC). In 2003 I moved to Kabwe in the Central Province, in the Lusaka Archdiocese. Finally, in early June 2009 I moved again, this time to Lusaka city itself to a new parish, St. Monica, Makeni Villa. I moved from the North of the country to the South, from the Cibemba to the Cinyanja.
They come from Thailand, India, Philippines, Myanmar and China, the Winners of the 2009 Ramon Magsaysay Award, in memory of former Philippine president. They are “true Asian heroes” because they do not surrender in front of “pressure and adversity”

MANILA – On Aug 31 six leading figures from Thailand, India, Philippines, Myanmar and China (two) will be presented the Ramon Magsaysay Award 2009, better known as the “Nobel of Asia”. Yesterday the Board of the Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation (RMAF) announced the winners, noting that they “exemplify the greatness of spirit and leadership” in a society in continual change and represent a “positive difference” for the countries of origin.

WHEN I READ that Pope Benedict XVI presented President Barack Obama with a personal copy of his latest encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate”, I said to myself, “Good luck, Mr. President, you’ve got some heavy reading ahead.” Then I wondered whether a one-page summary would help. This is what I offer here.

“Charity in truth” means truth-filled love. This is the “principal driving force” behind human development, says the pope. Love is the force that leads people “to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace”.

Truth, according to this encyclical, is conformity with “God’s plan”. In God’s plan, humans find truth. Charity “is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine”. Charity in truth “is the principle around which the Church’s social doctrine turns”.

BARNSTABLE, MASS. – Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who died on Aug 11, was “a woman of ardent faith and generous public service” in her work with the developmentally and physically disabled, said Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

VATICAN CITY – The Congregation for the Clergy, headed by Cardinal Claudio Hummes, announced this week that Pope Benedict XVI plans to close the Year for Priests by convoking a huge meeting of priests from around the world between Jun 9-11 in Rome.

Every Catholic priest in the world – there are around 407,000 – is invited to the meeting, which will have the theme of “Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of the Priest”.

THE POET, HAFIZ, wrote a poem nearly 700 years ago entitled, We Should Talk About This Problem. In it, God addresses a wounded soul:

There is a Beautiful Creature
Living in a hole you have dug ...
And I often sing, but still, my dear,
You do not come out.
I have fallen in love with Someone
Who hides inside of you.

That’s God’s feeling, and perhaps ours too, when someone is in a suicidal depression. Few things can so devastate us as the suicide of a loved one. There’s the horrific shock of losing a loved one so suddenly which, just of itself, can bring us to our knees; but, with suicide, there are other soul-wrenching feelings too, confusion, guilt, second-guessing, religious anxiety. Where did we fail this person? What might we still have done? What is this person’s state with God? CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL ARTICLE

Extract from

CatholicNews writers Daniel Tay and Joyce Gan have responded to Pope Benedict’s call to use new media to spread the Good News by setting up blogs, facebook and twitters which readers are invited to visit, chat and follow.

CatholicNews on Facebook:
CatholicNews facebook is now up and running!
Linkup and Chat up with Daniel and Joyce at

 CatholicNews on Twitter:
Follow catholicnews and Daniel on Twitter at

Visit Daniel's Blog at

Daniel’s blog Digital Donkey “chronicles the adventures of a simple donkey’s exploration of the digital continent which it hopes to bring Christ to. It also hopes to be a channel for others to know more about the Church in Singapore”.

Visit Joyce's Blog at

Joyce’s blog Joyce@CN has “commentaries, reflections, and personal sharings of a Catholic writer learning to look at the world through the eyes of the Church”.