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Greetings of hope and peace!
As the year comes to a close with the celebration of Our Lord’s Birth, let me take this opportunity to wish all of you, on behalf of the staff of CatholicNews, a joy-filled Christmas and blessed New Year.
I would also like to take this opportunity to inform you that rising costs in the production of our paper has made increasing the price of CatholicNews inevitable.
For the past 24 years, since 1990, the paper has been priced at 50 cents. It will cost 70 cents starting from January.
“In it is found the high point both of the action by which God sanctifies the world in Christ and of the worship that the human race offers to the Father, adoring him through Christ, the Son of God, in the Holy Spirit.” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal #16)
The Eucharist is the heart and the summit of the Church’s life (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CCC 1407)
These statements serve to reinforce the importance and dignity of the Eucharistic celebration and rightly so.
I cannot recall the numerous times I’ve heard preachers and speakers extol with a humble pride on the beauty and simplicity of the Sacred Liturgy and how it is supposed to flow seamlessly within the Rites uninterrupted.
At the recent Conversion Experience Retreat, we did the “Hokey-Pokey”. It brought back fond childhood memories.
Prior to that, it was watching my nieces and nephews enjoy the sights and sounds of fireworks at the National Day Parade in August.
Name an occasion you felt embarrassed or humbled.
The solemn profession of my three brothers and I was a humbling experience. Family, relatives and friends from all around came in large numbers. It was humbling because I did not expect such a crowd, considering it was a weekday (Friday), which meant them taking leave. Their support, prayers and enthusiasm were a very visible sign of God’s love.
Name an occasion when you felt God was far away.
When I took God for granted. I found myself “doing” (ministry, prayer, studies, etc) more than “being” His child. It was then I began feeling as if I was “missing” God that I knew I needed to take a step back and remind myself to “be” rather than “do”.
From Nov 29-30, about 600 participants attended talks by retreat master and The World Community for Christian Meditation (WCCM) director, Benedictine Fr Laurence Freeman, watched videos and attended question-and-answer sessions.
At the start of retreat, called The Eight Big Problems of Life, organised by WCCM Singapore, Fr Laurence asked participants, “What are you most seeking in life?
“The answer,” he said, “is that we are all seeking meaning, love, truth and beauty. All these are to be found within us...not further than a step away. They are to be found in a deeper dimension within us, in the space within our heart.”
“The Immaculate Conception invites us to reflect on the dignity of the priesthood: the priesthood, just like the Immaculate Conception is purely the grace of God,” said Archbishop William Goh during a traditional Latin Mass on Dec 8.
He was speaking to Catholics who packed St Joseph Church (Bukit Timah) to celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.
The Mass in the Extraordinary Form was also to celebrate the 40th and 46th priestly anniversaries of Frs Augustine Tay and Anthony Ho respectively.
Archbishop Goh reminded the crowd that God had given the Church the ordained ministry because after His departure on earth, Jesus “wants to continue to be present in our midst so we can continue to encounter Him, personally and sacramentally, through the priest who celebrates the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist”.
The purpose of the Nov 22-29 trip was to serve the poor and needy as well as support the Salesian nuns in their missionary work.
The nuns at the Anisakan home care for 49 girls, providing them with training in sewing, knitting and embroidery. The Sisters also run a kindergarten for 150 children at the home.
The Pyin Oo Lwin home shelters 58 secondary school girls who receive educational assistance from the nuns.
At the Chanthagon home, 20 college-level girls receive help in subjects such as English, accounting and computer studies.
In all the homes, the nuns emphasise religious education and values formation to girls who come from poor families.
Rejoicing over their 75 years here, the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) of Singapore-Malaysia Province celebrated with a Mass in their spanking new hall.
Over 200 family members, friends, collaborators, benefactors, current and former students of Marymount Convent School joined the Sisters for the Mass and dinner on Dec 12 at Good Shepherd Place, Toa Payoh Lorong 8.
Fr Cyril Lee, who delivered the homily at the concelebrated Mass, noted that the four Irish Sisters who sailed to Singapore from Sri Lanka in 1939 endured much hardship. This included having their first convent in Punggol destroyed and being exiled in Bahau, Malaysia during World War II.
Today, he added, “the Sisters’ mission has diversified but the focus remains” in that they serve the needy and disadvantaged women and children.
Parishes, organisations and offices under the archdiocese are in the midst of working to comply with the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), which officially took effect in July this year.
Five PDPA workshops have been organised to date by the Chancery office exclusively for the Archdiocese of Singapore to ensure that the nine obligations under the Act are understood and applied within the Church’s ministry and work.
Between September and this December, nearly 100 parish representatives and staff from various Catholic entities have attended these two-day workshops. A half-day seminar in November was also conducted for the clergy.
According to the Chancery office, a draft PDPA policy is currently being reviewed by a lawyer and is expected to be rolled out in the first quarter of 2015.
It was an evening of music, colour and movement as the Cathedral Choir of the Risen Christ, accompanied by the Cathedral Chamber Consort, presented its annual Christmas concert at St Joseph’s Church, Victoria St.
Titled Prince of Peace, the Dec 14 event saw the choir singing and dancing to a range of carols and songs, from the traditional to the modern, and in different languages.
The 800 guests in the audience included President Tony Tan and his wife, Mary, Archbishop William Goh and diplomats from various countries.
These and other related issues were tackled during an Advent retreat organised by the newly formed Archdiocesan Biblical Apostolate on Dec 13.
More than 60 people gathered at the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) Retreat House on Holland Road for the first programme of the apostolate, which is run by the Verbum Dei Missionaries.
“Love is not a feeling that makes our heart beat faster,” Sr Maria Jose M Egido told the crowd during the event, which had the theme, Open Your Heart to Christ.
“Love has to be felt in the hands -- when we give with generosity … in our feet – when we walk an extra mile for someone,” she said. “Love always implies self-sacrifice, self-giving.”
“It’s an experience that gives one a feeling of God’s love through Our Lady,” said 89-year-old Charlie Goh.
“I truly felt the presence of the Lord here. I feel very happy,” said 25-year-old Esther Ong, a wheelchair bound victim of a hit-and-run incident.
Mr Goh and Ms Ong were among a group of people suffering from health issues who attended the Lourdes Experience at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Dec 6. They were seated in front, on wheelchairs.
Some 11,200 people attended the five-and-a-half-hour-long event for the sick, the third of its kind here organised by the Order of Malta, Singapore.
It had the theme, Lourdes, The Joy of Conversion.
“When we think of Lourdes, these three things come to mind: peace, healing and prayers,” Archbishop Goh said during his homily.
ABLE also supports caregivers of people with muscular dystrophy by offering respite care, whereby a homecare nurse or nursing aide attends to the client while the caregiver runs errands or takes a much-needed rest.
To donate, make your cheque payable to “ABLE Limited”. To find out more about the organisation and to contribute, check out www.able-sg.org
The Cenacle Sisters in Singapore also need a convent of their own to reside in and accommodate small groups for spiritual formation.
The feast of the Incarnation invites us to contemplate on the wondrous beauty of God’s love. This God humbly reached out to us by assuming our humanity. He was born to share our fragile human condition. He came as a little baby without power or strength. He had no room for the night. He chose to be born in a cave without any honour and glory. He was announced to the lowly shepherds, the outcasts of society. Jesus, the Son of God chose the way of humility and lowliness so that He could feel with us.
By His coming, He came to teach us how to love, so that we too might have life. Happiness in life is not dependent on who we are, what office we hold, what social status we have in society. It is given to those who are capable of love. By loving and emptying Himself in humble love and service, Jesus shows us the way to the heart of God. By identifying ourselves with God and loving as He did, we too can participate in His joy and peace.
The event served as a platform for AES students to apply their classroom learning and promote entrepreneurship skills, as they designed, pitched sales and managed stalls by themselves.
All sales proceeds from the event went to the school’s upgrading project under the School Upgrading Programme or PRIME.
Pastry chef, Mr Jimmy Kea, was amongst a group of chef volunteers who offered to help in the event. Besides actively arranging for event partners, Mr Kea also offered his expertise in baking and cake decoration.
The retreat which began at 10pm, started with participants praying the rosary, followed by a short sharing by Fr Julian Nerius Roy Mariaratnam. He shared how to prepare for the coming of Christ this Advent.
Fr Julian also spoke about the unconditional love of God the Father, giving participants a deeper insight into the incarnation of Jesus.
By Sr Motcha, FMM
Gregory and Elaine Ho: God’s gifts to us
Married in 2000, Gregory and Elaine Ho took a while to conceive their first child. They went for fertility treatments, including a surgical procedure, and had planned to adopt a child before they had their firstborn in 2005.
“We had so much difficulty trying for the first child and were so happy when he came along. Then came the second, the third and the fourth and we just accepted them,” said Gregory, 45.
The children are now aged 9, 7, 5 and 3 years respectively.
When news of the third and fourth children was received, well-meaning friends and relatives asked, “Are you sure you still want another child? A fourth child will be a burden financially!”
The Mass, which is held annually, was organised by the Catholic AIDS Response Effort (CARE), a Catholic Charity which provides care and support for People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs).
Guests included friends and supporters, members and volunteers of CARE, and residents from the shelter home, run by the charity.
In his homily, Fr Augustine urged the congregation to pray during this Advent for a change in their lives, to do what God wishes for them; to bring God’s light into their lives so that they too can share it with others.
Just last week! I went on a treasure hunt with my classmates as part of our class assignment. In two hours, we had to find and photograph ourselves with the “treasures” we found in central Milan, which included a historic opera house, a library which houses the largest collection of Da Vinci’s works, a 15th century castle and more!
Name an occasion you felt humbled.
I’m currently learning Italian but I feel like a stammering preschooler every time I have to speak it. Once, the visiting provincial superior asked if I liked Italian food. I wanted to say “I love it” but ended up saying “I love you” instead. She gave me a funny look so I hastily modified my reply!
Name an occasion when you felt God was far away.
In my mid-20s, I doubted the Real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Being at Mass was painful; it was a weird, torturous experience of wanting God so badly yet being unable to believe. This went on for a year but the light at the end of the tunnel was the discovery of my vocation.
Dec 15, Monday, 8pm
Love of God
CHURCH OF SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA
Francis Cepe (94761255) / Tony Odiada (91391180)
CHURCH OF SAINT STEPHEN
Rey De Luna (97453947) / Manulet Bulaong (91258086)
Dec 16, Tuesday, 8pm
Love of Neighbour
CHURCH OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI
Agnes Paculdar (81235158) / Daisy Ducusin (93636408)
The dinner for the elderly, held at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, and organised by the Commission for the Apostolate of the Tamil-Speaking or CATS’ year-old Elders Ministry, was held to engage senior citizens in social events to boost their personal autonomy. It was also to let them know that growing old can be fun and entertaining, shared Mrs Louise Joseph, a CATS coordinator.
The ministry also organises spirituality-based activities, said Mrs Joseph.
About 110 people between the ages of 40 and 79 years turned up for the event, with about 80 percent of the participants being women.
To take part in the Saree Queen contest, the contestants had to be actively involved in the Elders Ministry. About 10 women, including Mrs Kolandasamy, who were dressed in their best sarees, were selected. One by one, they catwalked, danced and paraded their outfits.
In May and June this year, Archbishop William Goh shared his 10-year pastoral plan of Church renewal with the Catholic community.
He recalled that later, during his visits to parishes, many Catholics had asked him, “How can we make this plan happen?”
“Yes, there’s certainly a lot that we have to do,” Archbishop Goh affirmed, “but God will make it happen, not you, not me”.
Nevertheless, to help achieve this vision, the Catholic Foundation was established on Dec 27, 2012.
It seeks to promote philantrophic giving to support the capacity building needs of the Church in Singapore.
In the presence of Religious and priests, the Archdiocese of Singapore celebrated a Mass dedicated to the Year of Consecrated Life on Nov 29.
Archbishop William Goh, who was the main celebrant at the Mass at St Joseph’s Church , Victoria Street, said in his homily that in order to proclaim the Good News, Religious have to “radiate joy”.
He gave four indicators of how Religious can tell if they are joyful, consecrated persons.
Firstly, they need to “experience this yearning of intimacy with the Lord”, he said to about 200 Religious present.
The programme aims to recruit students who are passionate about working with young children, who desire to be groomed to be future leaders for Catholic preschools, and who are committed to pursuing a full-time diploma in Early Childhood Education.
A Memorandum of Understanding between ACCS and Serangoon District parishes was signed on Nov 6 this year, offering a scholarship that hopes to attract young educators to bring in new vibrancy and creativity into preschool classrooms, especially in a time where early childhood education is seeing increasing demand.
St Joseph’s Church Victoria Street, marked the restoration of its 72 panels of stained glass on Nov 29. Guests who attended the occasion included Jesuit Msgr Philip Heng and Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong.
Parish priest, Fr Ignatius Yeo, in his speech, thanked the Singapore government and especially the Preservation of Sites and Monuments Board and the National Heritage Board, for helping to make the restoration project a reality.
According to Fr Ignatius, the church is home to “the largest collection of stained glass in Singapore”.
As part of the afternoon event, the 100-strong audience enjoyed a choral performance by two all-female choirs – Philomela, a Finnish chamber choir, and VOCO Singapore.
The ca ncer survivor
As bubbly Ophelia Liew puts it, if anyone taking the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) does not ace it, it “is not the end of the world”.
If one were to see the 12-year-old today with her plaited lustrous hair, the thought that this St Anthony’s Canossian Primary School girl used to be bald as she battled leukaemia would never have crossed one’s mind.
At the tender age of six, Ophelia had to undergo chemotherapy.
“When I went to school, my friends teased me in Primary 1 because I didn’t have hair. They thought I was different from them. They didn’t understand until my teacher explained to them that I had cancer,” said Ophelia, as she flashed her pearlie whites.
It was an exciting time for 23 students on Nov 21, as they were the first batch of students from the newly set-up Catholic Theological Institute of Singapore (CTIS), to receive their Certificate in Theology.
“The graduation of our first cohort truly gives CTIS a sense of pride and satisfaction, because it is the culmination of a year of hard work for everyone, students as well as staff and lecturers,” the institute’s rector, Fr James Yeo, told CatholicNews.
The institute which provides theological training to help Catholics develop their religious knowledge, was established on Jan 22. It welcomed its first students at 55 Waterloo Street on Jan 27. Its second intake was on July 7.
The Certificate in Theology course comprises six modules: The Second Vatican Council, Introduction to Christian Philosophy, Overview of Catholic Theology, Fundamental Moral Theology, Introduction to the Bible, and Research Writing. These modules are taught by priests and Religious.
Cathedral of the Good Shepherd: Under renovation/restoration.
Church of Sts Peter & Paul: No penitential service.
Church of St Alphonsus (Novena Church): Under reconstruction. No penitential service
Church of the Sacred Heart: No penitential service. Confessions available before every Mass
Church of Our Lady of Lourdes: Dec 14: 8.45am (Tamil) and 5.45pm (Tamil), Dec 17: 8.00pm
Church of St Michael: Dec 15: 8.00pm
Church of St Teresa: Dec 16: 8.00pm
St Joseph’s Church (Victoria Street): Dec 18: 8.00pm
Church of St Bernadette: Dec 19: 8.00pm
It was part of CHIJ’s 160th anniversary celebrations which was organised by the CHIJ Alumni Association.
During the event called IJ Buzz-aar, participants were grouped according to their height before taking a walk around CHIJMES where the first CHIJ was set up.
According to Dr Claire Ang, president of the CHIJ Alumni Association, a total of 402 people gathered to create a record for forming a human chain.
A Singapore Book of Records official later presented certificates to CHIJ representatives.
Dr Ang also said that the previous Guinness World Record stood at 311, but “we need confirmation from Guinness, [which] will take some time”.
The journeying together (which the word “Synod” means) of the Bishops as shepherds of their respective Catholic communities with Pope Francis was for me a profound experience of the universal Church as a pilgrim people. The Bishops were from all over the world. While some knew one another, a lot were meeting for the first time – new faces but not strangers. There was warmth because there was a deep sense of brotherhood that came from the Bishops’ common calling in baptism and ordination (priestly as well as episcopal).
What had we Bishops come to journey together for? To share our pastoral experiences and search together for a relevant and effective way of pasturing our respective flocks in today’s world.
But God’s gentle whisper can still rise above the noise and din of daily activities. And for the 15 women who heard the invitation to Come Be-Loved Daughters of God retreat, and responded with openness from Nov 14-16, the rewards were empowering and liberating.
The hushed surroundings of Kingsmead Centre, well-tended gardens dotted with shady, quiet corners, provided the restful backdrop to coax the women to ponder their unique gifts and identity as God’s daughters.
The Sri Lankan Catholic community started from humble beginnings. It was set up by Sr Mary Susila Thomas in 1995 together with Ms Clara Perera, 66, who has been living in Singapore for 24 years. They went to Tekka market in search
of fellow Sri Lankan Catholics.
Their efforts have reaped rewards as now, the Sri Lankan community is a close-knit group comprising about 150 members.
CatholicNews spoke to the community after Mass in Sinhala at the Greccio Friary in CHIJ Queen of Peace (CHIJ QOP) on Nov 9. What was apparent was how the community harnesses the power of social media and technology to spread the Good News.
It has created a mobile application “Supuwatha” or Good News, which gives daily Mass readings in text, audio and video – in Sinhala and Tamil.
I am in total agreement with the article, and I believe that publishing this article will give many people food for thought. While this article was written in the US, I think this is a concern that is also present in Singapore.
There are a lot of points that resonated with me, mainly, the conundrum of whether or not we should address parishioners who use their mobile devices during Mass.
I’m 28 years old and even I (not just my parents) have noticed this growing concern as people’s attachment to their mobile devices grew over the years.
The women who are spouses of Singaporeans, come from Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
During the outing, they took part in games, won prizes, had lunch together and mingled.
The event was part of the foreign spouse programme, which aims to foster bonding among participants and help build mutual support.
The competition, organised by the East District Youth Committee, was held at the Verbist Hall in the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.
A workshop was held in July to equip participants with video-taking skills and ideas on how they could go about shooting their videos.
A total of 92 people, comprising mainly youths from East district parishes, turned up on the competition day on Nov 15.
The idea to fly the sand from Singapore came about when tour guide, Mr Ivan Lui from Faith Tours, during one of his previous trips, found out that the museum had started a collection of sand and soil from places where the late pope visited. The museum asked Mr Lui to collect the sand.
Arrangements were made and Archbishop William Goh officially acknowledged its origin.
“His Grace was most gracious and offered every assistance to have the honour of having Singapore remembered in this special museum,” Mr Lui said.
More than 400 people attended an evening thanksgiving Mass on Nov 5 to celebrate the beatification of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo. Blessed Alvaro, the first successor of the founder of Opus Dei, was beatified in Madrid, Spain, on Sept 27.
About 200 who were present at the Mass, held at Church of the Holy Cross, had travelled from Singapore to Madrid to witness the beatification ceremony.
During the Nov 5 Mass, Fr Avelino Marin, Regional Vicar of Opus Dei in Southeast Asia, recalled that he was ordained by Blessed Alvaro, who had once visited Singapore.
Fr Marin explained that each beatification or canonisation is a celebration of the victory of God and of the Church in the life of a person.
Two hundred voices from St Joseph’s Institution (SJI) old boys, teachers and De La Salle Brothers, echoed in the Singapore Art Museum, as they gathered for a memorial Mass on Nov 15 in honour of their beloved principal.
Irishman Br Kevin Byrne who was SJI’s principal from 1979 to 1991, battled Alzheimer’s disease in his later years and had a bad fall this year. Months later at 83, he passed away in his hometown in Castletown, Ireland on Sept 26.
Cherished by many, he was known for his calm demeanour and foresight as without him, SJI would not have gotten its independent status in 1986.