By Daniel Tay

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SINGAPORE - Members from the 21 religious congregations in the Archdiocese of Singapore gathered at Church of St. Mary of the Angels on Feb 2 to celebrate the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life. The Mass celebrated by Archbishop Nicholas Chia attracted about 500 people.

Left, members from the 21 religious congregations in Singapore attended the celebration of the World Day of Consecrated Life on Feb 2.

 

During his homily, Archbishop Chia explained the role of the religious in the local church, affirming that "religious work" is "good for the local churches" according to their particular charisms, and that "bishops, as persons responsible for the local churches, must coordinate all the apostolic works in the diocese". 

Quoting from the Synod of Bishops held in October 2001, Archbishop Chia said, "The consecrated life enriches our local churches, making more evident in them the gift of holiness and of catholicity. Through many of their works and their presence in the places where institutionally they take care of people … consecrated persons show and realize the presence of the church in the world of health, of education, and integral growth of persons."

Archbishop Chia reminded the religious of the "intrinsic value" of the consecrated life that they have, "rather than the external services they offer". He said that "their mission can be called that of 'being', rather than 'doing', even though in reality, one cannot exist without the other".

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Right, Archbishop Nicholas Chia blesses the candles used by members of the congregation for the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple.

The archbishop called on the religious to be prophetic witnesses for the people, as "holy guides, rather than learned teachers or eloquent preachers". He outlined four criteria for witnessing to be prophetic.

Prophetic witnessing is "radical", he said, "because it reaches to the roots of our being". "You must radiate Christ by a life of simplicity and poverty," by being faithful to the vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, he explained.

It must also be "visible", so that it can be seen by others, he said, clarifying that visibility implies the witness of communities and institutions, not only of individuals.

The witnessing must be "effective", because "it presents alternatives to ways of living that do not promote fullness of life", he said. "The joy of living your consecrated life will be an inspiration to others."

Lastly, it must be "credible", he said. "This calls for consistency, integrity, and harmony between words and deeds, proclamation and life."

Archbishop Chia reminded those present that the Synod Fathers chose to describe the diocese as "a communion of communities gathered around the shepherd, where clergy, consecrated persons and the laity are engaged in a 'dialogue of life and heart' sustained by the grace of the Holy Spirit".

He concluded by thanking the contributions of consecrated persons to the archdiocese, such as their involvement in schools, services to the aged and sick, family apostolate, youth apostolate, care for children, migrants, and prison ministry.

051.jpgLeft, Carmelite Friar Jeffrey Tan relates the history of the Discalced Carmelites to an atttentive audience of mostly religious sisters and brothers before dinner at St. Clare's Hall following Mass at Church of St. Mary of the Angels.

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Prayer wishes of religious

CatholicNews asked several religious what they would like readers to pray for. These are their responses:

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At the dinner following the Mass, religious brothers and sisters are taught the basic steps of line dancing. About 40 of them, both young and old, line danced for their first time to country music at St. Clare's Hall. Photos by Daniel Tay

"That we be true witnesses of the Gospel and that we live the gospel values radically, so that more young people may be encouraged to join the religious life." - Sister Theresa Lim, FSP (in blue habit)

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"For more vocations to the Gabrielites and the other congregations."

- Brother Emmanuel Gaudette, SG (left)

"That more men and women will have the courage to answer the call to be witnesses in life and love of Jesus Christ."

- Sister Francisca Tan, RC (centre)

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"For more vocations and for the church in China, particularly for reconciliation and dialogue, rather than confrontation."

- Father Paul Staes, CICM (right)

"For more vocations to the IJ sisters, and to the priesthood."

- Sister Agatha Tan, IJ

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"For each of us to recognize a greater sense of fraternity in the world, that is, what it means for us to be brother and sister."

- Father John Wong, OFM (right)

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"For more vocations to the consecrated life in general."

- Sister Florence Wong, FMDM (fourth from right)

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