JANUARY 15, 2012, Vol 62, No 1

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POPE’S WORLD DAY OF PEACE MESSAGE 2012: Educating young people in justice and peace
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POPE’S WORLD DAY OF PEACE MESSAGE 2012: Educating young people in justice and peace
Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli visiting Hmong villagers in Vietnam’s Hung Hoa diocese in his most recent trip to the communist country.

HANOI – Vietnam Church leaders say that extended visits by the country’s non-resident pontifical representative have strengthened solidarity among the faithful and increased understanding between the local Church and Rome.

Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli was named non-resident pontifical representative in January and has since paid five two-week visits to the country, travelling to all 26 dioceses. In his latest trip, from Nov 25-Dec 10, he visited the dioceses of Hung Hoa, Phat Diem, Thai Binh, Thanh Hoa and Vinh, as well as Ha Noi archdiocese.

“At each diocese, Archbishop Girelli united all Catholics and strengthened solidarity among them,” said one bishop who asked not to be named.

The bishop, from a southern diocese, said the papal representative was warmly received by thousands of Catholics who have been hoping for a papal visit for many years.

“The Vatican envoy is really a spiritual gift,” the bishop said.

In addition to visiting local priests, laypeople and Church-run healthcare facilities, the envoy also met government officials.
Nicholas Lee asks 20-somethings how they would like to see the Church grow in the new year

Use social media to engage youths

The effective use of social media can certainly help the Church better engage teenagers/young adults as this group spends a substantial amount of time on Facebook, Twitter and email.

Some parishes have started a Facebook fan page, but that is not sufficient. The church should actively encourage parishioners to check for updates on Facebook and post interesting updates on parish happenings to keep teenagers and young adults interested.

My perception of serving in the Church is that it is very time consuming and demands a high level of commitment.

Perhaps the Church can look at engaging teenagers and young adults through short-term or ad hoc involvements, such as helping out at the canteen, serving with the wardens or helping to clean the church once a month.

This will encourage those with a busy lifestyle to get involved and serve the Church.

Community bonding activities such as bowling or movie nights are good ways to get parishioners acquainted with each other.

I hope the Church can get more actively involved in serving the homeless and those in need. It will be good if more homes can be built by the Catholic Church in Singapore to take care of the homeless or to provide food and medical treatment for the needy, regardless of religion.
VATICAN CITY – At least 26 Catholic pastoral workers were killed in mission lands or among society’s most disadvantaged communities, although they were more often the victims of violent crimes than persecution for their faith, said a Vatican news agency.

Each year, Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, publishes a list of pastoral workers who died violently. The 2011 list was released on Dec 30.

The agency said that over the course of the year, it registered the deaths of 18 priests, four Religious women and four laypeople.

Twenty-five church workers were killed in 2010, a figure down from an unusually high number of 37 workers murdered in 2009.

The pope said the World Youth Day in August was a ‘remedy against faith fatigue and one that held lessons for the Church’.
CNS file photo

VATICAN CITY – Knowing one is loved by God gives life meaning and gives one the energy to live with joy, even in difficult situations, Pope Benedict XVI told top Vatican officials.

Meeting members of the Roman Curia on Dec 22 for his annual exchange of Christmas greetings, the pope said the “faith fatigue” seen in various areas of Church life contrasts sharply with the faith and joy he witnessed at World Youth Day in Madrid and during his November trip to Benin, in Africa.

The two trips, he said, hold lessons for the Church.

In what usually amounts to a review of the past year, the pope’s speech included acknowledgment of the global financial crisis, particularly in Europe, as well as of the dwindling number of practising Catholics and the priest shortage on the continent.

The Church’s commitment to a new evangelisation push can help both situations, he said.

As he has said many times, Pope Benedict told the Curia members that the economic crisis is ultimately an ethical crisis that continues, in part, because “the motivation is often lacking for individuals and large sectors of society to practise renunciation and make sacrifices”.

WASHINGTON – According to a new study, there are currently 2.18 billion Christians in more than 200 countries around the world, representing nearly a third of the estimated 6.9 billion global population in 2010.

The study, conducted by the US-based Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, found Christians to be so geographically widespread that no single continent or region can indisputably claim to be the centre of global Christianity.

The study, Global Christianity: A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population, cites that 100 years ago, two-thirds of the world’s Christians lived in Europe but today only about a quarter of all Christians live there.
The Convent Bukit Nanas in Kuala Lumpur.

JOHOR BARU, MALAYSIA – A controversy over the Ministry of Education’s appointment of a Muslim principal to a Catholic school has been resolved after she was replaced with a Catholic one.

The dispute arose when Ms Zavirah Mohd Shaari was appointed to take over as principal of the Convent Bukit Nanas (CBN) in Kuala Lumpur. The former principal, Ms Ann Khoo, retired in November.

Ms Zavirah’s arrival at the school on Dec 7 surprised the school’s owners – the Infant Jesus (IJ) Sisters Provincialate and the school’s board of governors.

According to the IJ Provincialate, Ms Zavirah’s name was not on the list of names submitted to the education ministry. Normally, the selection of principals of Catholic mission schools is based on consultation between the school’s owners, the board of governors and the education ministry, said IJ Provincial Sr Rosalind Tan.
I read with dismay Mr Aloysius Cheong’s letter, Of Flip Flops, Latin and Kneeling at Mass.

I may not be the best Catholic, nor do I claim to be a very good one. In fact, I may be what many call a “Sunday Catholic”. But at least I know that when one goes to God’s house, one dresses the best he or she can.

You don’t go sloppily dressed to a funeral, wedding or any other function that requires a dress code. You don’t disrespect the host of the function by dressing down, you dress up.

Mr Cheong’s criticism over Latin is unfounded. Many murmur not because they are insincere in reciting the Lord’s Prayer, but because they are unfamiliar with the text which is in a different language.

Over time, as the congregation becomes used to it, I believe that people will be more willing to recite it loudly. Saying that murmuring and the text being in a different language make one less sincere in worshipping the Lord is actually quite worrying.

When I first read Aloysius Cheong’s letter, Of Flip Flops, Latin and Kneeling at Mass (CN, Dec 25), expressing disappointment at the church’s treatment of his wife, I must admit that my first reaction was to take the side of the warden and the church administration which set out the rules.

After all, restaurant diners do not complain if they are told of a dress code in a restaurant and would duly adhere to the code.

Be that as it may, it was pointed out to me subsequently that in Africa, parishioners go to church barefoot and I was forced to rethink this issue.

While it is tempting to take sides, either with Mr Cheong or the church, it is too simple a dichotomy to make. What we need to do is to go back to the fundamentals.
Well done, Mr Aloysius Cheong (CN, Dec 25). I am so glad that you have had the faith, the courage, the honesty and the good sense to express your feelings and thoughts about footwear (flip flops), foreign language (Latin) and enforced postures (kneeling) during the Eucharistic celebration.

As a Religious and Catholic priest, I am often saddened to hear how some fellow priests and a few of their high-handed ministers have become more like canonical “gate-keepers” and sartorial enforcers of the Church than servants of the Lord.
Applications for the Carlo Catholic Society Bursary Scheme for 2012 are now open for primary, secondary, junior college (JC), Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and Centralised Institute (CI) students.

Applications must be submitted by Feb 1 to Carlo Catholic Society. Applications for polytechnic and university students start on May 15.

The bursaries aim to help needy Catholic students and form part of Carlo’s social and outreach service to Church and society.

The group of 57 confirmands, including 11 teenagers with special needs, pose for a photo with Archbishop Chia.

Eleven teenagers with special needs were confirmed on Dec 18 at Blessed Sacrament Church.

They were part of a group of 57 adults and youths from the parish who received the sacrament, administered by Archbishop Nicholas Chia.

The 11 confirmands with special needs, together with their parents and godparents, had earlier attended preparatory sessions.
Courageous is not the run-of-the mill Hollywood-type popcorn blockbuster entertainment movie, but rather a Christian film that celebrates the importance of family values, especially fatherhood.

The movie portrays the attitudes of five men – four police officers and a Hispanic odd-job labourer – towards their responsibilities as fathers.

The turning point of the movie occurs when police officer Adam Mitchell (Alex Kendrick) loses his young daughter in an accident. In his regret for not spending enough quality time with his daughter, he decides to re-examine his parenting skills.

Above: A scene from the movie. Below: Archbishop Nicholas Chia said the movie Courageous also promotes values of justice and truth.

The movie Courageous raises good points about fatherhood and defines the responsibility of the father in the family, said Archbishop Nicholas Chia.

The film also promotes the values of justice and truth, especially when one of the characters refuses to resort to dishonesty to keep his job, he added.

Archbishop Chia was speaking to CatholicNews after attending the film’s premiere at The Grand Cathay on Jan 2.
A Chinese migrant looks at a mini Christmas tree he received and decorated during a Christmas party held by the Church of St Mary of the Angels.

The Church of St Mary of the Angels has launched a ministry called The Angelic Inn to reach out to Chinese migrants.

The parish began the ministry on Dec 11 with a Christmas party attended by about 70 migrant workers. Organisers chartered a bus to ferry some of them from their dormitories in the Jurong Road and Jurong West areas to the church, while others made their own way to the venue.

Canossian Sr Josephine Ng, parish pastoral worker for the Mandarin-speaking community, shared with the guests the meaning of Christmas for Christians – the gift of Christ to the world.
A FILODEP cooking course

Registration is now open for foreign domestic workers of all nationalities eager to learn various skills.

FILODEP (Filipino Ongoing Development Programme), founded by the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) and a former Philippine ambassador, starts registration for its 2012 courses in January.

The courses are in baking, dress-making, facial aromatherapy, massage, guitar, hair styling, handicraft, cooking, Mandarin, English and taekwondo.
Detail of poster

The celebration of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has been brought forward in Singapore because of the Lunar New Year holidays.

The special week is usually observed from Jan 18-25.

Because of the upcoming holidays, the Committee for Ecumenical Movement (CEM) of Singapore archdiocese requested permission from Archbishop Nicholas Chia and from Rome to bring it forward to Jan 15-22.

Above: The Cathedral Choir of the Risen Christ performed its Christmas concert at the CHIJMES chapel to a crowd that included envoys of various countries. Below: Singapore’s Foreign Minister K Shanmugam lights a candle for peace.

The former CHIJMES chapel came to life on Dec 18 when the Cathedral Choir of the Risen Christ presented its annual Christmas concert to a small but distinguished audience.

The choir, led by its founder director, Sir Peter Low, performed to a crowd that included Singapore Foreign Minister K Shanmugam, the ambassadors of Belgium, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Peru, Ukraine, the Vatican, and the High Commissioners of Canada, India, South Africa and the United Kingdom.

The first half of the evening’s programme was a more serious paraliturgical presentation of hymns, carols and six short readings from Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hebrews and Luke, foretelling the birth of the Messiah.

Above: NUS Catholic Medical Society members (in dark blue) pose for a photo with the ACTS team (in light blue) at the Don Bosco vocational school for girls in Battambang. Below: A Singapore medical student dispenses medication to Cambodians.

Eighteen students from the NUS Catholic Medical Society provided medical care and conducted health education in Cambodia recently.

The inaugural student-run mission to Battambang, from Dec 10-16, also saw the participation of four doctors from the Catholic Medical Guild and Mr Malcolm Wong, assistant principal of St Joseph’s Institution.

The team, dubbed Mission Srolanh (srolanh means “love” in Khmer), was conceived as a result of a request for medical aid from Msgr Enrique Figaredo, apostolic prefect of Battambang.
Left: Food rations donated by Singapore Catholics. Below: Indonesian students carolling at people’s homes.

Members of two Singapore parishes delivered food to residents of Indonesia’s Karimun island and took part in a carolling programme for them over a recent weekend.

Forty-nine Catholics from the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Church of Nativity visited needy families living in wooden and zinc houses on Dec 10 evening.

A total of 50 families each received a 20-kg sack of rice, dry noodles and another bag of food, paid for from church donations and participant contributions.

Singaporean Catholics play with children at a school for the deaf in Pattaya.

To evangelise the poor and be evangelised by them. This was the goal of the Redemptorist Overseas Mission Trip (R.O.M.E) to Pattaya, Thailand, that took place from Dec 1-9.

Led by Fr Simon Pereira, R.O.M.E brought together two seminarians and 51 laypeople, including parents, young adults and youths from parishes and mission schools all over Singapore.

The outreach was to serve poor and abandoned people supported by the Father Ray Foundation, a Catholic organisation.
A bhangra dance was part of the Christmas Day concert held at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes.

More than 1,000 Indian Catholic migrants as well as migrants from other Asian countries attended a special Christmas concert organised for them at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes.

Migrants from Indian states such as Tamil Nadu and Kerala, together with others from Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, packed the church premises for the Dec 25 event.

The concert, hosted by MediaCorp artiste Patpanaban Ramesh, included performances from popular artistes Abdul Rahman and Malarvizli, a bhangra dance, and a show by Singapore illusionist, Amazing Bosco.

The refurbished St Theresa’s Convent at Lower Delta Road now has a new block for classrooms and a full-size hockey pitch.

In the early morning of Dec 29, four school girls were seen running along Lower Delta waving a blue flag. As they approached the school on a hill, a loud cheer from hundreds of school girls and teachers rang out.

Thus began celebrations marking the return of CHIJ St Theresa’s Convent to its former premises.

The school moved from its former site two years ago as a result of the Education Ministry’s Programme for Rebuilding and IMproving Existing Schools (PRIME).
Young Americans carry a replica of the World Youth Day cross in preparation for the celebration last year. CNS photo

VATICAN CITY – When young people recognise the dignity and beauty of every human life, including their own, and are supported in their natural desire to make the world a better place, they become agents of justice and peace in the world, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Peace and justice are built on “a profound respect for every human being and helping others to live a life consonant with this supreme dignity”, the pope said in his message for the World Day of Peace 2012.

The Catholic Church celebrates World Peace Day on Jan 1. The pope’s message for the occasion was released last month at the Vatican and sent, through Vatican ambassadors, to the leaders of nations around the world.