JULY 03, 2011, Vol 61, No 13

Choirs from different churches took part in a Night of Song for Christian Unity, held at the Barker Road Methodist Church on June 18.

The choirs (clockwise from top left) from Barker Road Methodist Church, the Catholic Church of St Ignatius, Mar Thoma Syrian Church and Church of South India enthralled the audience with their repertoire of largely contemporary songs.

The event was a follow-up to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity held in January.

Today's article in this continuing series on Values by the Catholic Medical Guild and Caritas Singapore looks at the emotionally charged debate over abortion.

AUSTRALIAN journalist Melinda Tankard-Reist, who draws upon the experiences of more than 200 women to write about the lasting emotional shock and trauma that follows an abortion, shares this excerpt from a woman named Elizabeth:

"The aftermath was a numbness I hadn't anticipated. I was numb, hollow, dead and so heavy with sorrow. The feeling didn't go with time as my delighted mother assured me it would. I grew morose, bitter, very sad, so heavy with sadness that I can't describe it. I became different ... cheap. I'd sleep with almost anyone. I drank heavily. I didn't care what happened to me and I tried several times to commit suicide.

For 10 years this went on. I cried every day ... and I hated myself and everyone else. I used to dream about the child I'd lost. .. I love it, cherish it, yearned for its birth, missed it when it was taken from me and to this day, 26 years later, feel the tragic heaviness of time. My only consolation is that one day when I die, our souls may co-unite."

Psychologists now know the depression and guilt Elizabeth describes is not unique. Similar cases of post-abortion trauma are commonly found in women who were, for one - reason or another, pressured into having an abortion, or who had experienced uncertainty or ambivalence about their choice to abort. Why is this important?
"The Eucharist is more precious to us than all the world’s riches because it nourishes us for our life’s journey and prepares us for heaven."

Normally, people of faith have quiet minds because they put their trust in the supernatural power of Jesus. This faith gives them a gentle peace, and they manage to persevere through the storms of life, overcoming their fears.

Such people find Jesus most perfectly in the Eucharist.

Those who succumb to their doubts often enter a dark world alone with their fears. They lose their spiritual centre and journey unprotected through the darkness.

Some Catholics think they have serious doubts about the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, but a person is only in real doubt when he or she withholds assent or suspends belief. Most do not enter into a state of disbelief; they merely experience the discomfort of trying to understand such a profound mystery.

There is an old adage that a thousand difficulties do not make a single doubt. This is true; no one fully comprehends the sacred mysteries of our faith. All we can do is try to grasp the facts that surround the mystery.

Pope John Paul II put it well when he wrote his encyclical on the Eucharist (Ecclesia de Eucharistia): “Every commitment to holiness, every activity aimed at carrying out the Church’s mission ... must draw the strength it needs from the Eucharistic mystery. ... In the Eucharist we have Jesus, we have his redemptive sacrifice, we have his resurrection, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have adoration, obedience and love of the Father. Were we to disregard the Eucharist, how could we overcome our own deficiency?”
I WAS at Mass in my parish recently and the church was, as usual, crowded. When communion time came, the queues were, needless to say, formidable. I would not be surprised if the priests and communion ministers felt somewhat pressured to distribute communion as fast as they could.

When I was still in the pews, I noticed that the queue had suddenly stopped moving. At the head was a female communion minister and a young communicant, both staring down at the floor – a sacred host had been dropped.

The communicant was dressed in a very short skirt, so it was obviously not convenient to bend down to pick up the host. The communion minister was in a longer skirt, but nonetheless quite fitting, so she was not bending down either.

Fortunately, the warden in attendance noticed the awkwardness and stepped forward to pick the host up and held on to it.

When my turn came to receive communion, I noticed that the host was pressed down very firmly on my open palm. As I had sweaty palms, I was mortified to think that there might be fragments remaining on it and took great care to check for “crumbs”.

While doing so, I spotted another fragment of the host on the ground, right next to where communion was being distributed, either dropped by the warden earlier or by some other communicant. I had nearly stepped on my Lord.
Recently, my father was warded for pneumonia and the next day being a Friday, I looked at the Church directory to see which church I could approach to administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.

I left a voice mail at one church and subsequently called the church. I was totally taken aback when I was told that the priest would only go down when the patient was in ICU or dying, and this makes me wonder what is happening to this ministry.

I was also told that I should contact his parish priest instead.
I refer to the article, St Joseph Church Undergoes Major Renovations (CN, June 19).

I read with great joy how the parish church that served my formative years will undergo major renovations after nearly 50 years since its completion.

In light of the changes to the sanctuary and other parts of the nave, I wish to highlight the importance of maintaining continuity with Catholic tradition and the parish’s Chinese-inspired architectural designs.

It is most unfortunate that in remodelling themselves, many parishes (especially those historical ones) suffer from a discontinuity from the original architectural inspirations.

This discontinuity extends to certain pieces of liturgical furniture as well and not just the overall building design. One does not need to be a qualified designer or architect to point out inconsistencies in numerous parishes.

What makes our Catholic tradition rich is her 2,000 years of continuity. Continuity is important to underscore the Church Militant’s union with the Church Suffering and Church Triumphant.
"While unauthorised ordination is always a grave crime against Church law, automatic excommunication would not apply in certain circumstances."

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican said bishops’ ordinations that are not authorised by the pope generally bring the penalty of automatic excommunication, but there can be mitigating circumstances – including fear of reprisal, necessity or serious inconvenience.

The clarification, issued by the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, appeared to respond to the situation of recent ordinations of bishops in China against the orders of Pope Benedict XVI. The text was published on June 10 by L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper.

In China, the most recent ordinations have involved bishops loyal to the Vatican, who were said to have been intimidated or forced to participate as ordaining ministers. The normal penalty for participation in such an ordination is automatic excommunication.
Smoke rises after NATO airstrikes in Tripoli on June 7. CNS photo

VATICAN CITY – The top Church official in Libya expressed fear that the protracted conflict there would generate fighting among factions and tribes, but said he believed a negotiated solution was still possible, the Vatican’s missionary news agency reported.

Bishop Giovanni Martinelli of Tripoli, Libya, also told the Fides news agency June 8 that “whoever thinks they can resolve everything with bombs is mistaken”.

Bishop Martinelli has been an outspoken critic of the NATO bombing campaign against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s forces, which have been battling to put down a widespread rebellion since late February.

Intense NATO bombing made for “a terrible day” on June 7, the bishop said. The government said at least 60 missiles hit Tripoli, killing more than 30 people that day.

“The political situation is not clear,” Bishop Martinelli told Fides. “We are waiting for developments and progress in dialogue and peace. I still believe in dialogue.”
VATICAN CITY – The Vatican will host an international congress to promote the use of adult stem cells as a safe, effective and ethical means to fight degenerative diseases.

The congress, to be held from Nov 9-11, will also feature speakers who support embryonic stem-cell research, to give proponents an opportunity to “explain the reasoning behind their position,” said Fr Tomasz Trafny, an official with the Pontifical Council for Culture. The Church is opposed to the use of embryonic stem cells since it involves the destruction of the human embryo.

The congress, organised by the Vatican’s councils for Culture and Health Care Ministry as well as the Pontifical Academy for Life, is being held in conjunction with the international biopharmaceutical company, NeoStem.

The congress will be the culture council and the biotech firm’s first major collaborative project since they forged an agreement in 2010 to work together to educate people about the benefits of adult stem-cell research.

The collaboration is between NeoStem’s Stem for Life Foundation and the culture council’s foundation – called STOQ International, for Science, Theology and the Ontological Quest.
WASHINGTON – Move over, Spider Man. Here come some new comic-book heroes.

Among this new breed of heroes are Pope Benedict XVI, St Paul and Old Testament figure Judith.

The genre is manga, a Japanese genre of cartoons and comic books, and Jonathan Lin, who runs Manga Hero in the United States, may well be the world’s only publisher of Catholic manga comics.

A 32-page Pope Benedict manga comic will be distributed in August during World Youth Day in Madrid. Lin said he expects to have 300,000 copies produced in Spain to meet demand. He hopes it will whet World Youth Day participants’ appetites for a longer Pope Benedict manga to be produced later this year in the US.

A full-time manga artist in Singapore, Sean Lam, does Lin’s manga artwork.

“I wanted to start my own business – something that could positively influence young people, who are especially influenced by media,” Lin told Catholic News Service in a June 3 telephone interview from San Rafael, California.

“I was talking to my parents. And my dad, who actually grew up in Japan, asked me, ‘How come there’s no biblical manga?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s right. That’s a shame.’ There were only a couple written by Protestants and published by Protestants that basically converted the Bible into a manga series,” Lin said.
SEOUL – Angels for Pro-Life, a recently established teenage anti-suicide group, has staged a street campaign to try and reduce the numbers of youth suicides in South Korea.

Seoul archdiocese’s One Body One Spirit Movement paraded through the capital’s Myeongdong shopping district on June 11 with the Catholic youth group to help them get their message across.

Some 150 youths from various parishes around Seoul such as Moonjung2-dong and Gaepo-dong as well from some high schools participated in the event.

The Suicide Prevention Centre of the One Body One Spirit Movement has been teaching youths to respect life and ways of preventing suicides through a “class for life” which began in March last year.
MANDALAY – Church authorities in the north of Myanmar are voicing concern over the safety of people fleeing clashes between government troops and ethnic Kachin rebels near the Chinese border.

The first priority is for parishes to coordinate their efforts and assist refugees in getting to safety; the second is providing aid to those coming to churches seeking help, a meeting between the bishop and Church officials in Banmaw diocese concluded on June 16.

“We’re urging parish priests to go among these people as we are the Good Shepherd and they need our physical presence among them,” Bishop Raymond Sumlut Gam of Banmaw said.

Fighting between government troops and the Kachin Independence Army broke out on June 9.
Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Kalookan called for restraint.

MANILA – Filipino bishops have called on countries claiming the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea to stop their “war of words” and start formal talks over the issue.

Bishop Pedro Arigo of Puerto Princesa said the government should initiate talks among all claimants of the disputed islands. They include China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Vietnam. Most of them occupy one or more of the chain of tiny islands and reefs.

“Let us act like civilised people and sit down and have a nice and formal talk between all the claimants,” the prelate said.

“Engaging in public tirades will do nothing good,” he added.

Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez of Kalookan also called for calm and restraint on all parties. He said intimidation should be avoided.

“We should always look for peaceful ways to resolve the matter. We owe it to our people and to the world to advocate and work for peace,” Bishop Iñiguez said.
HANDAN, CHINA – Handan diocese is preparing to go ahead with the episcopal ordination of Fr Joseph Sun Jigen despite objection from the government.

The event is scheduled for June 29, the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, at Caozhuang Church in Hebei province. Bishop Stephen Yang Xiangtai is to be the main consecrator. He will ordain Fr Sun as coadjutor bishop. The appointment of Fr Sun has been approved by Pope Benedict XVI.

The diocese has prepared for the ordination and also informed all Catholics to begin a novena to pray for it.

According to local sources, government officials rejected the date of the ordination saying it comes close to the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Communist Party of China on July 1. They also maintain that it should be the government to decide on the ordination date.

The government sees the symbolic feast day as “sensitive”, as it means “we are loyal to Rome”, a source said.

The local Church thinks ordaining a bishop is an internal matter and only needs to inform the government but not apply for approval, the source added.
PAROPPADY, INDIA – A parish in southern India is making its catechism students practise what they learn in class.

Catholic students of St Antony’s Church, Paroppady, on June 12 distributed books to over 600 students of poor families, mostly belonging to other religions.

The parish belongs to Thamarassery diocese. Parish priest Fr Jose Manimalatharappil asked students to donate their old textbooks to help poor children when the academic year opened on June 1.

“Within a week we collected books worth 100,000 rupees (S$2,710),” said the priest.

Local legislator A. Pradeepkumar, who launched the book-donation ceremony, hailed the parish move as a good way to educate students about their responsibility to help the poor.

Ms Ponnamm, a Hindu and mother of a second-grader who received the books, said the Church’s gesture would help her to achieve her dream of giving good education to her children.  - UCANEWS.COM

CEBU, PHILIPPINES – Some Philippine politicians have vowed to support the Catholic Church in preventing passage of controversial reproductive health legislation now pending in Congress.

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia said government officials were united in opposition to the reproductive health (RH) bill.

“What is right is to be pro-life and to stand up firmly and steadfastly against the RH bill,” she said during a meeting with Church leaders on June 17, which included Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu.

“On behalf of all [local government units] of the province of Cebu, all of our seven cities and 44 municipalities, may I express, your excellency, our firm stand against the RH bill.”

Congressman Pablo Garcia, the governor’s brother, said passage of the bill was unlikely, as “anti-RH bill legislators” have the numbers to block passage.

“There is a change in Congress because of the non-compromising stand of the bishops,” the legislator said.
JOHOR BAHRU – The Catholic Church is now seeing the “rise of the Catholic laity” who “have become as important as the Religious”, says Bishop Paul Tan of Melaka-Johor diocese.

However, it is true that “the Church expects the Religious to excel in holiness even though all are called to holiness”.

Bishop Tan gave these observations in an interview to mark his 40th priestly anniversary.

The Jesuit Church leader, who is also the head of the Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, celebrated the occasion on June 21.

Bishop Tan said he saw the hand of God in the proliferation of secular institutes of consecrated life in which members do not live in communities like the older Religious communities.

“Vatican Council II says that all Catholics are called to holiness and not just the Religious,” said Bishop Tan, 71.

“It is my conjecture that there are few things God wants to tell us. He wants to lift up the role of the lay faithful to its original status.”
Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli holding a statue of Our Lady of La Vang, given to him by Catholics in Bui Chu diocese.

VIETNAM – The non-resident pontifical representative to Vietnam has urged Catholics to preserve their religious heritage and witness to their faith during his second visit to the communist country.

“You should cherish and preserve centuries-old Catholic traditions and the rich heritage that has evolved through your ancestors’ faith in what is a fast-changing society,” Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli told 5,000 Catholics who welcomed him on June 13 at the Shrine of the Holy Family at Kien Lao in Bui Chu diocese.

He also urged young Catholics to live a moral life, practise their faith and faithfully serve the local Church whose future lies in their hands.

The shrine, in northern Vietnam is believed to be the cradle of Catholicism in the country. According to Royal Vietnamese records, a European missioner called Ignatius preached Catholicism there in 1533.

Archbishop Girelli also visited the 300-year-old house of the Lovers of the Holy Cross congregation in Kien Lao. He offered incense at the altar of French Bishop Pierre Lambert de la Mote who established the congregation there in 1670.
LAHORE, PAKISTAN – A Catholic TV television network has launched a summer electronic media training course at St Francis Church in Lahore.

Catholic TV began the three-month program on June 20 at a studio set up on the church’s balcony, with about 50 students attending the opening session.

Fr Morris Jalal, Catholic TV executive director, said it was the first training of its kind in the country.

The programme offers courses in script writing, sound editing, video editing, acting, set designing, lighting and video production.  - UCANEWS.COM
GUIZHOU, CHINA – Church workers at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Guizhou city collected more than 10,000 yuan (S$1,900) for emergency relief during Masses on June 12.

Heavy rain last week caused serious floods in Wangmo, in southwest Guizhou province, isolating the county from the outside world.

Overflowing river waters and mountain torrents have killed 21 people and left 31 missing in the county. More than 40,000 people were forced to evacuate.

The donations will be sent to the victims as soon as local transportation recovers, a Church worker said.

Guizhou diocese, which is based in the provincial capital Guiyang city, could not reach the pastor of Wangmo parish, Fr Zhang Yiyong, for two days after the rainstorm.

“Electric power, water supply and telecommunication there were interrupted. But luckily, the church was unaffected as it is located far from the flooded river,” reported the priest.
Laotian Catholics participating in a traditional ceremony.

A priest says the local government prevents Catholics from attending Sunday Mass by forcing them to do community service or learn government policies.
- CNS file photo

Christians across the border in Vietnam, said a Vietnamese priest working in Laos.

“We are deeply concerned about the future of the Luang Prabang Apostolic Vicariate where religious activities are limited, local Catholics are closely watched and vocations are few,” Fr Raphael Tran Xuan Nhan told the Asian Church news agency UCA News on June 9.

Fr Nhan, 57, from Vinh diocese in central Vietnam, has worked in Laos for years and established Legion of Mary groups in the communist-led country. He said that since 1975, when the communist Pathet Lao rose to power after the Laotian civil war, the apostolic vicariate has produced just one native priest and no nuns.

The priest said Luang Prabang provincial authorities try to limit local travel of Catholics, who are required to inform village authorities when they want to leave their communities.

The situation is worse for ethnic Hmong Christians, who demanded religious freedom in an early May demonstration in Vietnam’s Dien Bien province, which borders Luang Prabang province.

The local government prevents Catholics from attending Mass on Sundays by forcing them to do community service or learn government policies, Father Nhan said.
The Focolare’s men and women centres for the zone of Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei will relocate from Singapore to Yogyakarta, Indonesia. However, the Focolare community and activities in Singapore will still continue.

There is no single underlying reason for the decision to move to Yogyakarta, Zone Director Nicolas Iturralde told CatholicNews.

However, one factor is that many Indonesian students from the archipelago go to Yogyakarta for studies, and relocating the centres there would allow for outreach work, Mr Iturralde said.

The city is also located in the middle of Java and is easily accessible to other places.
KATHMANDU – Hundreds of Christians ended an annual 40-day prayer campaign on June 12 for a better and brighter future for Nepal.

Closing ceremonies took place at the Jesuit-run St Xavier’s School in Kathmandu.

Amidst lively songs and biblical exhortations, youths and clergy highlighted some of the specific things they had prayed for including women’s rights and an end to drug abuse and child labour, as well as protection for Christians.

Chief coordinator Pastor Bhab Ghale said the event was a success and that all funds raised through it came from local donations. These include a motorbike rally, a river rafting prayer event and mountain top prayer vigils.

Pastor Bishnu Khanal, who led a 10-day motorcycle rally from May 15, involving dozens of bikes, said participants covered 37 towns in 28 of Nepal’s 75 districts.

St Mary of the Angels parishioners at a papal audience in Rome.

St Mary of the Angels parishioners attended Pope John Paul’s beatification and visited Franciscan sites

Pope John Paul II, the “pilgrim pope”, visited more than 120 countries during his term of office. He clearly left a lasting impression during his 1986 trip to Singapore, judging from the animated retellings of the visit by Church of St Mary of the Angels parishioners, who were in Rome for his beatification.

Many of the 84 pilgrims from the parish, who had signed up for the April 24-May 7 Franciscan Pilgrimage to Italy, shared similar sentiments with Mr Noel Hon, who is in his early 60s. “Having been touched by his love, I felt called to witness the beatification.”

The beatification Mass at the Vatican on May 1 was one of many highlights of the pilgrimage led by Friars John-Paul Tan and Derrick Yap.

The experience entailed a long wait in the blistering hot sun with a crushing crowd of 1.5 million. The experience gave one a real sense of the universality of the Catholic faith which was being celebrated.

The choir taking part in the candlelit Rosary procession in Lourdes.

St Bernadette Church’s Emmanuel Choir journeyed to sacred sites in France recently. They share their experience.

A DREAM to sing the Hymn to St Bernadette before the saint’s incorrupt body became reality for members of a parish choir recently.

The Church of St Bernadette’s Emmanuel Choir sang this special hymn, which has been in the parish’s possession for decades, at the Nevers Convent Chapel during their May 8-20 pilgrimage to France.

In 2009, choir administrator Monica Lee had told members, “We will organise a Thanksgiving Singing Pilgrimage to Lourdes and Nevers, in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of our Blessed Virgin Mary to St Bernadette and the 50th anniversary of the building of the Church of St Bernadette in Singapore.”

Thus began two years of preparatory work.
The Legion of Mary in Singapore is celebrating the international movement’s 90th anniversary with activities and events. These aim at recruiting members while igniting Legionaries’ passion for their mission.

Marian-themed talks by priests have started in March. The next talk will be on The Immaculate Conception by Fr Andrew Wong at 4 pm on July 16 at Church of the Holy Spirit.

The schedule of the other talks for the rest of the year will be announced closer towards the dates.

Meanwhile, a travelling exhibition highlighting the movement’s founder Frank Duff and other prominent Legionaries, as well as the work of the movement, is making its rounds of the parishes in Singapore.

The exhibition will be held at the Church of St Bernadette, Church of St Francis of Assisi, Church of the Holy Spirit and Church of Christ the King over the next few weeks.

Other activities include a Legion Seminar in August, a Marian Congress in October, a 90th anniversary Mass and dinner celebration in early September, as well as a Mass to pray for Duff’s beatification.

The first Legion of Mary praesidium (unit) in Singapore was founded in December 1947.

Today, there are 138 praesidia in the Singapore archdiocese with 1,193 active members and 3,026 auxiliary members.

Some participants of the recent Legion of Mary camp, conducted in English and Mandarin, pose for a photo.

The Legion of Mary’s Mandarin-speaking youth section recently organised a camp to introduce teenagers to the movement and to attract members to its governing body, or Curia.

Thirty participants aged nine to 17 from across the diocese participated in the June 3-5 camp held on the grounds of the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The camp was conducted in English and Mandarin.

Language is not a barrier to joining the youth Curia as activities are bilingual except during joint formal events with the Mandarin-speaking adults which will then be in Mandarin, said the Curia’s vice president, Ms Joycelyn Wang.
A team attempts to decorate a cupcake with cream and sprinkles during the church’s One Community, One Race event.

From eating spicy buffalo wings and icing cupcakes to dribbling a soccer ball, participants in the Church of the Holy Spirit’s One Community, One Race did them all.

Organised by the youths from the parish’s RCIY/C (Rites of Christian Initiation for Youths and Children) team, the Amazing Race-styled event was a symbolic way to mark the start of the parish’s next 50 years.

Over 40 teams of four comprising mostly parishioners came together on May 29 with the aim of completing 14 checkpoints in two hours. In addition, one of the teams had a fifth member and trump card in parish priest Fr Andrew Wong, having outbid other teams for him.

Checkpoints for the race were chosen for their significance in the parish’s history within the Upper Thomson area. They ranged from the first location of the church to the favourite hangout places of all ages throughout the years.

Fr Michael Lim will serve in Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn.

Despite being a Singaporean Chinese, Fr Michael Lim says he has no problem ministering to the Australians in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn.

The newly ordained priest, who has spent the last two years in Australia, said that his sharing of how he converted to Catholicism “was an inspiration to many returning to the Church after many years of being lukewarm and indifferent to the faith”.

“I can see the hand of God opening the doors of the hearts of the many Australians that I minister to,” Fr Lim, a former Buddhist, told CatholicNews in an email interview.

The 51-year-old is now serving in the Mary Queen of Apostles parish as assistant priest in Goulburn, New South Wales.
Fr Damien Lim was ordained in Rome.

Fr Damien Lim, the first Singaporean Opus Dei priest, was ordained on May 14 in Rome at the Basilica of St Eugene.

He is currently studying for his Doctorate in Philosophy in the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. Fr Lim, who has been in Rome since 2006, will soon leave for pastoral practice in Spain.

Before joining the priesthood, he had been working for a French bank in Taipei. A convert, his decision to join the Catholic faith was largely due to his brother, Aloysius, who brought home Catholic reading material and was subsequently baptised, Fr Lim said in an interview on the Opus Dei website.

He says he remembers getting interested in the Catholic faith and in those days of his military service, spent time reading books on the faith of which one of the authors was the prelature’s founder St Josemaria Escriva.
Part of the 1,000-strong crowd at the Church of Christ the King on June 12.

“This is the golden age of the Catholic Church in Singapore where renewal and revival are happening,” said Fr Simon Pereira.

“People are connecting with each other … we’re getting there,” said the Charismatic Redemptorist priest at the Pentecost Rally held at Church of Christ the King on June 12.

About 1,000 people attended the rally which started with a lively praise-and-worship session led by youths.

In his address to the crowd, Fr Pereira spoke of how the Holy Spirit leads people to renewal, conversion and empowerment.

He also quoted from the Early Church Fathers such as St Cyril of Alexandria and St Basil the Great on renewal in the Holy Spirit.

“We should put away our old self and be utterly transformed and launched on a new way of holy living,” said Fr Pereira, quoting St Cyril.

Prayer teams from the various parish Charismatic groups then prayed over people in the congregation.

During the Mass which followed, Fr Pereira urged the crowd to “share the marvels of God with others”.

The Church delegation from China pose for a photo at the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary. Also in the photo are Fr Paul Tong (centre, with stick) and Belgian Fr Jeroom Heyndrickx (second row, third from right).

Some Catholics from China visited Singapore in May to learn more about the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), according to a report by Hai Sing Pao.

The 19-member delegation comprised priests, nuns and laypeople from Hengshui, Liaoning and Beijing dioceses. They were in Singapore for 10 days from May 7 to attend workshops at the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary.

These were jointly organised by the Singapore archdiocese’s Mandarin RCIA team and the Scheut Missions Verbiest Institute in Taipei. Also present were two Scheut Missions priests based in Taiwan including Belgian Fr Jeroom Heyndrickx, who was one of the presenters.

Other presenters from Singapore included Frs Paul Tong and Henry Siew, Canossian Sr Clare Tan and laypeople.
Charities Week 2011 raised a record $5,564,243, says Caritas Singapore Community Council.

It not only surpassed last year’s donations but also came at a time of the unprecedented Japanese disasters which saw many in Singapore donating to the cause, said Caritas.

“It is heart-warming to know that Catholics are giving more to help the poor and needy in our midst,” said a press statement from the official social and community arm of the Singapore archdiocese.

Proceeds from the annual fundraising campaign will aid organisations such as the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Boys’ Town Singapore, Catholic AIDS Response Effort, Catholic Welfare Services, Family Life Society, Infant Jesus Homes and Children’s Centres, Marine Parade Family Service Centre, Morning Star Community Services, the Roman Catholic Prison Ministry, CHARIS, CLARITY and ABLE.

The money will enable these organisations to run their social service programmes, says Caritas.

Although Charities Week 2011 has come to a close, those who wish to donate to these organisations can still do so. Make cheque donations payable to “Caritas Singapore” and mail to: 55 Waterloo Street, #09-03 Singapore 187954. Donors who require tax deduction should indicate this on the back of the cheque and also provide their NRIC number and contact details.

For more information on the charity organisations, visit www.caritas-singapore.org or call 6337-3711.

Catechists and youth ministry representatives in small group discussions during the June 4 dialogue workshop.

Catechists and youth ministry representatives from various parishes attended a workshop recently to promote greater understanding and collaboration between both groups.

Sixty-three people attended the sessions on June 4, organised by the Catechetical Office and the Youth Ministry Office, and held at the Catholic Archdiocesan Youth Centre.

Sixteen parishes were represented of which 10 had both their catechists and youths present. Diocesan groups such as Amplify Youth Ministry and Youth for Christ also participated.

Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) representatives and their Catholic visitors pose for a photo after their gathering on June 8.

Some 20 priests, Religious and laypeople visited the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS), or the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, where they learnt more about the organisation and management of Muslims’ religious life here.

The June 8 visit was organised by the archdiocese’s Council for Inter-Religious and Ecumenical Dialogue (IRED) and Priestly Life Commission.

Commission chairman Fr Aloysius Ong said the visit aimed at increasing cooperation among faiths, and awareness among priests of issues beyond parish work.

Boys hold China’s national flag during Pope Benedict XVI’s general audience in Rome. The Vatican says it hopes illicit ordinations of bishops in China would be a thing of the past after a planned ordination was postponed recently.

VATICAN CITY – The Vatican said it hoped the postponement of an illicit episcopal ordination in Hankou diocese would mark the end to all ordinations without papal approval in China.

The Vatican confirmed that the planned illicit ordination of Fr Joseph Shen Guo’an was postponed indefinitely; he was to have been ordained bishop of Hankou, or Wuhan, on June 9.

Fr Ciro Benedettini, vice director of the Vatican press office, told Catholic News Service on June 10 that the Vatican hopes “this kind of ordination without the permission of the pope doesn’t ever happen again”. There was no new date set for the ordination or explanation for the postponement.

The postponement came after the Hong Kong-born secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples urged priests and bishops in China to show “some backbone” and resist government pressure to disobey the pope.
WORLD Communications Day (June 5) owes much of its significance to the humble tree – the source of the world’s paper supply, without which we would not be reading newspapers, books and the CatholicNews, just to name a few!

How apt that June 5 was also World Environment Day, especially as this year’s theme is Forests: Nature at your Service. 2011 is also designated International Year of Forests, by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Can you imagine life on Earth without grass, flowers or trees? Without forests, there would be no life on this planet. Yet, how we take trees for granted!

Living in urban Singapore, we may be forgiven for thinking that trees are good mainly for the shade they provide.

But did you know that an average tree can supply enough oxygen to keep a family of four breathing for a year? This same tree is also capable of absorbing 12 kg of carbon dioxide in a year. And, most importantly, only plants can produce enough new oxygen to support life on Earth.