FEBRUARY 13, 2011, Vol 61, No 3

(left) Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury walking with Pope Benedict XVI in London last year. Unity based on a whitewashing of differences, according to the pope, only stalls fruitful dialogue.

THE Church celebrated the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity from Jan 18 to 25.

The Decree on Ecumenism of the Vatican Council II encourages all Catholics to participate in this special week and to strive to remove the blocks of division. The key to realising this is through a dialogue of life, of work, of studies and of prayer.

Working towards Christian unity is nothing new for the Catholic Church. We have been speaking of Christian unity for decades. Now the Evangelicals and Pentecostals have been gradually included in ecumenical activities. They are now convinced of the need for unity.

The problem, however, is that “unity” and “ecumenism” are interpreted rather differently in different Christian traditions. Some leaders of Evangelical communities seem to be saying that Christian unity has already been achieved and it does not need to involve a visible oneness of the Church.

Catholic Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster stands with the three former Anglican bishops ordained Catholic priests in London on Jan 15. They are (from left) Fathers John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham and Keith Newton.

LONDON – Almost immediately after he was ordained a Catholic priest along with two other former Anglican bishops, Father Keith Newton was named head of the world’s first personal ordinariate (similar to a diocese) for former Anglicans in England and Wales.

Father Newton, who is a 58-year-old married man and former Anglican bishop of Richborough, was ordained to the Catholic priesthood on Jan 15 by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster. Also ordained Catholic priests during the Mass in Westminster Cathedral in London were former Anglican Bishop John Broadhurst of Fulham and former Anglican Bishop Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet.

A capacity congregation of about 1,500 worshippers filled the cathedral for the historic event.

The Mass began with the reading of a message from US Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who described the priestly ordinations as an “occasion of great joy”. He said the establishment of the ordinariate marked a “unique and historic moment in the life of the Catholic community” of England and Wales.

Fr Newton issued a statement saying he was “humbled” to be appointed as the first head of the ordinariate in England and Wales.
Archbishop issues message to Catholic schools on sexuality education programmes
‘Within the context of our Catholic schools, I would find it unacceptable if students were given a compromised message on pre-marital sex.’ - Archbishop Nicholas Chia (File photo)

Archbishop Nicholas Chia has issued a message to Catholic schools, clarifying the Church’s stand on pre-marital sex and contraception, topics dealt with in sexuality education programmes here.

In his message, signed on Jan 10 and issued to school supervisors and heads of Catholic schools a few days later, Archbishop Chia reiterated Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks in his World Day of Peace message regarding religious freedom.

“The right to religious freedom is rooted in the very dignity of the human person, whose transcendent nature must not be ignored or overlooked. God created man and woman in his own image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:27). For this reason, each person is endowed with the sacred right to a full life, also from a spiritual standpoint,” Archbishop Chia quoted the pope.

A priest can most certainly impose a dress code
I am writing regarding the letter, Correct To Impose Dress Code? (CN, Jan 30).

As a parishioner of the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea, I felt that this comment should be addressed because it asserts the opinion that a priest cannot impose a “dress code” for the Eucharistic celebration.

However, it has been the opinion of Holy Mother Church that “bodily demeanour (gestures and dress)” are part of the elements for worthy reception of the Eucharist and that such acts “ought to convey respect, solemnity, and joy of the moment when Christ becomes our guest” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1387).

The posters in the church are guidelines of what should not be worn to Mass and are there in order to keep the Mass a reverent environment that honours Christ.

This can even be deduced from reading the passage cited in the posters, Ecclesia Eucharista no. 49, which explains: “With this heightened sense of mystery, we understand how the faith of the Church in the mystery of the Eucharist has found historical expression not only in the demand for an interior disposition of devotion, but also in outward forms meant to evoke and emphasize the grandeur of the event being celebrated.”

A Coptic Orthodox woman in Rome holds a crucifix during a Jan 9 demonstration to condemn the Christmas attack on a church in Alexandria, Egypt. CNS photo

STRASBOURG, FRANCE – The European Parliament has urged governments to do more to protect Christians from persecution.

“In some cases, the situation facing Christian communities is such as to endanger their future existence – if they were to disappear, this would entail the loss of a significant part of the religious heritage of the countries concerned,” the European Parliament said in a Jan 20 resolution addressed to European Union institutions.

“We call on the [European] Council, the Commission and High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy ... to pay increased attention to the subject of freedom of religion or belief and to the situation of religious minorities, including Christians, in agreements and cooperation with third countries as well as in human rights reports.”

The document said the Dec 31 explosion at an Orthodox church in Alexandria, Egypt, was only one of numerous attacks against Christians in 2010. It cited incidents in Nigeria, Iraq, Philippines, Vietnam and Cyprus.

It added that the EU had stressed the duty of governments to guarantee freedom of thought, conscience and belief and was committed to promoting democracy and respect for human rights and civil liberties as a fundamental aim.
Logo of the 2011 World Youth Day, which will be held in Madrid

Preparations for World Youth Day 2011 (WYD’11) are now in full swing, with young Singaporean Catholics taking part in fellowship sessions, and receiving spiritual input and direction.

Various Church groups are now holding regular activities for pilgrims to help them prepare spiritually for the international youth event to be held in Madrid, Spain, from Aug 16-21.

Over at the Church of St Francis of Assisi, participants have started meeting once or twice a month since January. They are scheduled to attend sessions with speakers, participate in Holy Hour, Eucharistic adoration, and have one-on-one spiritual direction under Daughter of St Paul Sr Jocelyn, the group’s spiritual director.

A day of recollection will be held before the trip to energise the pilgrims, said parish youth coordinator Joachim Liu.

Eighteen pilgrims are expected for the trip.
Canossian Sr Enrica giving Holy Communion to a pupil during the Jan 10 Mass.

Students and staff of St Anthony’s Canossian Primary School celebrated their first Mass at the school’s holding site at Bedok North Road, having moved from Bedok North Avenue 4 late last year.

The temporary move was part of the Education Ministry’s plans to improve and upgrade the facilities of the old building.

The Jan 10 Mass, celebrated by Father Johnson Fernandez, marked the beginning of the new school year as well as a new chapter in the school’s history. Joining the school community in prayer were the Canossian Sisters and Ms Grace Tan, principal of Canossa Convent Primary school.

The celebration concluded with a teachers’ dedication prayer and a students’ commitment prayer, in which both educators and pupils asked for God’s blessings and strength to stay committed to their endeavours through the new academic year.
Archbishop Nicholas Chia gives a lighted candle to Ms Mabel Lim from St Joseph’s Church Childcare Centre during the Jan 22 commissioning ceremony for new principals of Catholic schools.

The annual commissioning ceremony for new principals of Catholic schools is a great encouragement, say educators who attended a recent ceremony.

“It shows that the Catholic Church and especially the supervisors are behind us and they support us,” said Mrs Judina Cheong, Hai Sing Catholic School principal.

“The commissioning is very meaningful as it reminds us of what we have been chosen and called to do, just as the apostles were called,” said Ms Genevieve Chye, principal of Montfort Junior School.
Altar servers taking part in The Expert Altar Boy Quiz during their Jan 16 recollection.

“When is the next one?” asked an altar server who attended the recent Serangoon District Altar Servers Recollection.

Aaron Gabriel, from St Anne’s Church, was one of 149 altar servers from the district who attended the event held at the Church of St Vincent de Paul.

Judging from his enthusiasm, the young boys are eager for more such activities.

The Jan 16 recollection was a follow up of last August’s Mass for the district’s altar servers. It was held at the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Archbishop Nicholas Chia, who celebrated the Mass, had said he would like vocation awareness to be instilled at an early age.
It was an Anglican pastor who started what is now known as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, parishioners of the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea learnt recently.

Rev Paul Wattson started the Church Unity Octave in 1908 in New York state, with the support of Anglican and Catholic bishops, Fr John Joseph Fenelon told parishioners on Jan 18, the start of the Christian unity week.

The Anglican pastor later became Catholic and was ordained to the priesthood in 1910.

Fr Fenelon was speaking at a special service to pray for the unity of all Christian Churches.
As Fr William Lim, parish priest of Church of Immaculate Heart of Mary, is presently unwell, Fr Stephen Yim (above), currently assistant priest at Church of Christ the King, has been appointed acting parish priest at Immaculate Heart of Mary as of Feb 8.

Archbishop Nicholas Chia, who made the announcement recently, said Fr Emmanuel, a Paris Foreign Missions Society (MEP) priest, will be posted to Christ the King on Feb 15.

Christian leaders give a blessing to participants at the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity service on Jan 24.

Christians challenged to work harder for ecumenism during Unity Week event

While being reminded of their common roots in Christ, Christians were challenged to do more for Christian unity at a programme to mark the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

Christ’s presence in Holy Communion changes people, Rev Dr Lorna Khoo from Aldersgate Methodist Church told the 400 people at the Church of Divine Mercy on Jan 24. She urged them to see Holy Communion as a meal of the presence of Christ.

“Because He is here, something can happen ... He invites … all can come”, although sometimes the decrees and disciplines of the Church act as gatekeepers, deciding on who can come, she said.
"The Special Person has a very importont role in our midst. He creates on opportunity for us to exercise the human heart, to be human agaln. We depend on them to teach us how to enable our disabled hearts, while we the able-bodied enable their disabilities. It is a sharing of gifts," says Alaric Wang.

A THOUSAND questions, doubts and regrets often arise when parents discover their child is intellectually disabled. Why did this happen? Why us? What did we do wrong?

MrAlaric Wang, 50, grappled with these questions when his son Joseph was born nine years ago. The intellectually disabled are often misunderstood, discriminated against and laughed at. The pain that they and their families suffer as a result is one that does not go away.

Faith and Light International was born out of these families need for support. It is a spiritual and ecumenical movement that began in 1971 in a Roman Catholic context. Faith and Light Community, Singapore, is 10 years old, with three communities based at the parishes of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady Star of the Sea.
"I notice in my body the beginning of some trouble that must he natural for an old man. I bear it with resignation, even if it is sometimes tiresome and also makes me afraid it will get worse.

It is not pleasant to think too much about this; but once more, I feel prepared for anything.

It gives me joy to keep faithful to my religious practices: Holy Mass, the Divine Office, the whole rosary, with meditation on the mysteries, constant preoccupation with God and with spiritual things."

From retreat notes of Pope John XXIII in the Vatican from Nov 26 -Dec 2, 1961.

In this ongoing series on Dignity of the Elderly we pause to reflect on what we can do to journey with our older brothers and sisters at a special time of life.

When we speak of lifelong development in the elderly, we often think of things older people can do to keep busy - new things they can learn, new hobbies, work that is suited to their strength and experience.

Those who are mobile and independent are labeled "successful": those who are ill and/or dependent on caregivers are often regarded as "burdens" on their family.

Students who did well in the GCE O Levels: (from left) Luke Yong, Jonathan Liem and Benjamin Cher.

More than 70 percent eligible for admission to junior collges and polytechnics

Holy Innocents’ High School (HIHS) students have done well in the 2010 GCE O Level Exams.

Top student Lin Yifeng scored eight A1s, while another student, Audrey Sum, scored eight distinctions. Seven other students scored seven distinctions.

Furthermore, 70.5 percent and 97.4 percent of the cohort are eligible for admission to junior college and polytechnic respectively, the highest in five years.

While character development is emphasised by all schools, principal Soh Lai Leng said that in mission schools, students “grow up and learn in an environment that is God-centred and love-centred” with the staff giving “their whole heart” in nurturing the students holistically.
The Church of St Mary of the Angels will begin a new 7.15 pm Sunday Mass starting from Feb 13.

The parish says the new Mass time offers Catholics working shifts or who are busy earlier in the day on Sundays a chance to attend Mass.

The parish says it hopes the additional Mass will ease overcrowding at the Sunday 5.30 pm Mass and allow for a more conducive environment for worship and prayer.

All other Mass times at the church remain unchanged.