MARCH 25, 2012, Vol 62, No 06

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Lenten Reconciliation Services


Church of St Bernadette Wed March 21: 8.00pm
Church of Our Lady of Lourdes Thu March 22: 8.00pm
Church of St Teresa
Mon March 26: 8.00pm
Church of St Michael
Tue March 27: 8.00pm
Church of Sts Peter & Paul
Thu March 29: 8.00pm Sat March 31: 1.00pm Mandarin

A mosaic depicts the death of Christ and the blood and water flowing from His side, as described in John’s Gospel. CNS file photoA mosaic depicts the death of Christ and the blood and water flowing from His side, as described in John’s Gospel. CNS file photo

SOME say that at heart, Christianity is counter-intuitive. Its message contrasts strikingly with the patterns usually proposed to us for living successfully and harvesting life’s riches.

After all, Christianity counts losses as gains, insists that selflessness paves the way to self-discovery and locates the seeds of new life in death.

Christianity also ranks love far above efficiency when it comes to fostering our surrounding world’s good functioning. And paradoxically, Christianity esteems sacrifice for its capacity to open channels along which this love can flow.

In the Christian view, sacrifice literally can be life-giving.
Darren Chan, 19, asks his friends what the season means to them

Cutting down on computer games
Lent is a time when we are reminded of Christ’s death on the cross for us, and when we go about relinquishing some of our luxuries.

I play computer games a lot less often, and spend more time reading the news, magazines, and being with friends. I also pray the rosary more often and am more proactive with house work, trying to make that a habit.

Doing activities that add more value to my life and to the lives of others makes me feel good (although I’m really itching to play games).

On a side note, I find it quite amusing that some of the public get shocked by the sight of so many people having a cross mark on their foreheads. Rather, I feel that it is a sign of repentance to God and a lead-up to Lent.

Bryce Chee, 19,
Church of the Holy Spirit
OMAHA – Fr Edward Flanagan who started Boys Town in 1917 with a rented house and five troubled boys who needed a home in Omaha, USA, might someday be named a saint.

Now, Boys Town helps more than 1.6 million people each year through its main campus of group homes, churches, a grade school and high school, post office and bank, as well as a national research hospital in Omaha, a national hotline, and other services and locations around the country.

The process toward canonisation began on Feb 27 with Archbishop George J. Lucas – surrounded by more than 200 people with dozens of cameras flashing – placing a notice on the doors of St Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha.

The notice, which is a centuries-old church tradition, alerts the public to the opening of Fr Flanagan’s sainthood cause. It also invites people to share their thoughts with a tribunal that is being formed to review the priest’s life and works.

If there is a declaration of the priest’s heroic virtues, the Church will give him the title “venerable”.

The second step is beatification, after which he is called “blessed”. The third step is sainthood. At various steps in the canonisation process, evidence of alleged miracles is presented to Church authorities. In general, two miracles need to be accepted by the Church as having occurred through the intercession of the prospective saint.

Pope Benedict XVI and Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams arrive for vespers in Rome. CNS photo

ROME – Remembering the common roots of the Christianity they share, Roman Catholics and Anglicans should renew their commitments to praying and working for Christian unity, Pope Benedict XVI said.

The pope and Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Communion, held an evening prayer service on March 10 at Rome’s Church of St Gregory on the Caelian Hill. This was the church from which Pope Gregory the Great sent St Augustine of Canterbury and his fellow monks to evangelise England in 597.

“We hope that the sign of our presence here together in front of the holy altar, where Gregory himself celebrated the eucharistic sacrifice, will remain not only as a reminder of our fraternal encounter, but also as a stimulus for all the faithful – both Catholic and Anglican – encouraging them ... to renew their commitment to pray constantly and to work for unity,” Pope Benedict said during the evening prayer service.

Camaldoli monks and nuns were joined by cardinals, Anglican and Catholic faithful and representatives of other Christian communities in Rome for the prayer service.

Archbishop Williams told Vatican Radio that he and the pope spoke about the situation of Christians in the Middle East “and about our shared sense of deep anxiety and frustration and uncertainty about what the future holds there”.
JERUSALEM – Christians in Syria live in fear of a repeat of persecution like what was seen in Iraq, said officials of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine.

“The same pattern like in Iraq is re-emerging, as Islamic militants are now kidnapping and killing Christians in Syria,” said Mr Issam Bishara, vice president of the Pontifical Mission and regional director for Lebanon and Syria.

“Christians are concerned about the repercussions of the events taking place in the region. They fear that the experiences of Iraq and Lebanon – which took place against the backdrop of a civil war – could play out again in their own lands. These concerns haunt the Syrian Christians.”

“We lost Christians in Iraq; if we lose Chirstians in Syria, what will happen to the Middle East?” said Mr Ra’ed Bahou, the Pontifical Mission’s regional director for Jordan and Iraq. “Christians are leaving the region, and we have to work to reduce this loss. Time is not with us. Syria is the last castle of Christianity in the Middle East. If they start emigrating from Syria, it is the beginning of the end of Christianity in this area.”

On March 7, Mr Bahou said that there were no official statistics, but an estimated 200 Christians were among the recent wave of Syrian refugees entering Jordan. He said many of those same refugees earlier had fled Iraq for Syria.
LAHORE, PAKISTAN – Catholic priests have called for the canonisation of Shahbaz Bhatti, a former federal minister who was gunned down last year for criticising the country’s harsh blasphemy laws.

Churches across the country held memorial services on March 9 and hundreds of Christians took part in rallies to mark the first anniversary of the death of the minorities affairs minister.

Members of Bhatti’s party –the all Pakistan Minority Alliance – placed candles and flowers in the street in Islamabad where he was assassinated.

“There is no doubt in my mind – the Church should consider declaring Shahbaz Bhatti a saint; his life should be documented,” said Fr Bonnie Mendes, Caritas Asia’s former regional coordinator.

“He was a true Catholic and was killed for his faith. The Church needs to come together and promote the cause to canonise him,” he added.
Embracing simplicity can be seen as a response to Lent, the appointed time for conversion and repentance. It is also a positive move towards a more sustainable way of living for our planet in crisis.

Conversion means to seek God above all things, according to St Benedict. This involves a “turning away from” certain habits of our life “in order to return wholeheartedly to Him who is the only reason for our lives”, writes Benedictine monk, Br Victor-Antoine D’Avila-Latourrette, in The Gift of Simplicity.

Djoni Sutanto, a parishioner of the Church of the Holy Spirit, stayed at monasteries in Indonesia, Japan, Philippines and Australia over several years.

Martin See speaks to Djoni Sutanto, who is re-staging a photo exhibition of his experience of monastic life

A vast crimson sky arches over a Trappist monastery in Flores, Indonesia. A carved wooden stool, with rays of sunlight pouring down on it, stands in a quiet corner of a room.

These are two powerful images of Christian monasticism that viewers to a photo exhibition will get to see from March 27-April 4.
Philip Cheah, an organiser of the Southeast Asian Film Festival

The 2012 Southeast Asian Film Festival is showcasing four Christian-themed movies.

They are Fable of the Fish (screened on March 2), Flight of an Angel (screened on March 4), Trespassers (screened on March 11), and Baby Factory (to be screened on March 25).

The film festival is in its second year.
While Flight of an Angel does not aim at being preachy about values, it is about as “Catholic” as a movie can get.

Set in the Philippines, Catholic images and icons are present throughout the entire film.

The movie tells the story of Gabby, an ordinary salaried worker, who one day in an act of kindness sends an old, sickly beggar to a hospice run by nuns.

In the movie, Gabby, the protagonist, develops a pair of wings after bringing an old beggar to a hospice run by nuns.

Director Clodualdo Del Mundo Jr, whose Christian-themed movie Flight of an Angel was screened here recently, tells Darren Boon more about the film

A late friend had recounted to Filipino writer-director Clodualdo Del Mundo Jr his experience of carrying a frail beggar to a charitable home. There, nuns cared for the poor and dying.

This incident became the basis for Del Mundo Jr’s film, Flight of an Angel (Paglipad ng Anghel) which he wrote and directed.
Clarity Singapore, a Catholic charity which caters to mental health needs moved its service centre from Blessed Sacrament Church to Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea in Yishun on March 1.

Its executive director Grace Ang told CatholicNews that the move is to get a headstart in meeting the mental health needs of the community in the northern area of Singapore in line with the organisation’s plans.
Renovations to the Catholic Welfare Centre are expected to last a year.

Offices to relocate temporarily. Darren Boon finds out more

Catholic Welfare Centre at 55 Waterloo Street will undergo renovation.

Refurbishment works to the nine-storey building, located next to Church of Sts Peter and Paul, are expected to begin in mid-April and last a year.
Mandarin-speaking Catholics say an annual Lenten programme for them have helped them prepare spiritually for Easter.

The programme, organised by the Commission for Apostolate of Mandarin-speaking in Singapore (CAMS), begins with the Stations of the Cross followed by a Mass.

It is held on five Wednesday evenings during Lent and draws a crowd of about 300-400 people.
Children from St Joseph Church (Bukit Timah) making props for their upcoming musical on the sufferings of Christ.

Children from St Joseph Church (Bukit Timah) are staging a musical on Christ’s passion over the Palm Sunday weekend.

The performance, which aims to raise money for the church building fund, will feature scenes from Christ’s passion as well as the Stations of the Cross. The music will comprise familiar Lenten hymns as well as songs from Christian music songwriters Danielle Rose and Twila Paris Wright.
Participants learning how to set up mobile toilets.

The archdiocese’s umbrella body for overseas humanitarian aid, CHARIS, held a humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training session recently.

The 15 participants who attended included volunteers from CHARIS’ affiliates Acts29, the Catholic Nurses Guild and Project Kyrie, a group that assists the less privileged in Singapore and overseas.
A baking class for foreign domestic workers run by ACMI. File photo

The archdiocesan commission for migrants says it is pleased with the Manpower Ministry’s announcement that foreign domestic workers (FDWs) be given a weekly day off starting next year.

According to the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ACMI), it was the first to advocate for the rights for these workers when it developed a workshop, Building Harmonious Relationship between Employers and FDWs, in 2001.

Thaddeus Soh (left) and Joshua Low overcame various hurdles to score four As each.

Mass, counselling helped them improve grades

Two Catholic Junior College students had much to rejoice when they received their GCE A Level results on March 2.

Joshua Low, formerly from the Normal stream, found it hard at first to adapt to the pace of college life. Thaddeus Soh admitted he hardly paid attention in class and did badly for his mid-term exams.

Nevertheless, with help and support from the school, both scored 4 As.

A man helps to clear debris from the ruins of St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Ridgway, Illinois. The church was destroyed by the recent wave of tornadoes in the US. CNS photo

HENRYVILLE, INDIANA, USA – As one of the few buildings in town to come through intense storms nearly intact, St Francis Xavier Church in Indiana has become a natural staging area for relief efforts, community organising and prayer.

Four days after a devastating tornado hit, volunteers and professionals used St Xavier, the nearby Henryville Community Church and a community centre as bases for people trying to put their lives back together.

The town of about 1,600 was one of several in the region to be severely damaged by storms that created dozens of tornadoes across 11 states on March 2 and 3.
I refer to the letter by Ms Carmen Hartono (State Must Provide ‘Health Services’, CN, March 11).

Contrary to what was presented in that letter and in many media, the issue is NOT so much about women’s health as it is about freedom of religion and one’s inalienable right to witness to one’s faith, and the right to act and live according to one’s conscience.

Indeed, there are many Jews, Protestants and people of other faiths strenuously opposing this Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate too.

The “amendment” to the proposed bill, by shifting the financial burden to the insurers, is just an accounting game. Ultimately the cost will still be included in the premiums calculated and paid for by Catholic institutions.

What about organisations associated with the Church who self insure? Under the bill, they will have to provide contraceptives, sterilisation and medications taken for the purpose of causing abortions, or face hefty fines that escalate year after year.

What about “women’s health” then? There are other very effective ways that these “health services” can be dispensed, and Ms Hartono would be pleased to know that contraceptives, sterilisations and abortion causing drugs are freely available in the US through many channels including the more than 820 federally funded Planned Parenthood centres located in all 50 states that provide such services as well as abortions. And they charge close to nothing because they are funded by private and public monies to the tune of over a billion dollars annually.
I’m writing in response to Ms Carmen Hartono’s letter (State Must Provide ‘Health Services’, CN, March 11).

With respect to the recent US contraceptive mandate, Ms Hartono concludes that “the state must provide health services to ALL women regardless of how the Church judges her decisions”.

In an article published in last month’s Wall Street Journal, Evangelical Protestants and Jews united with Catholics in condemning the mandate as contrary to the very separation of Church and state that Ms Hartono advocates.

Universal healthcare coverage has never been a reality in the United States. Health insurance plans are selected by employers when offered at all, and not all plans are accepted by all healthcare providers.

Welcome to this week's Catholic News on sale at the gathering space.
Read the question of the week: Are you ready to give your maid a day off per week? Pg 3
Our teens share how they observe Lent. Pg 15
Don't miss the regular columnist, Fr Ronald Rolheiser's article on 'Consecration and freedom'. Pg 14
Pg 20 lists the Lenten Reconciliation Services in all the parishes of the Archdiocese.

Those interested in responding to the tender invitation are requested to collect the Call For Proposal For The Operation Of A Café/Restaurant document. Please contact Mr Elijah Tan of the Archdiocesan Land & Properties Singapore (ALPS) at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 6337-3711. Deadline for submission of proposals: 12 noon, June 22, 2012.

The Archdiocese of Singapore is looking for a Communications Manager to develop and maintain strong internal and external communications for the Catholic Archdiocese. The position will report to the Communications Advisory Council, which oversees the Archdiocesan Communications Office.

The responsibilities of the role include: