SINGAPORE – It’s not easy spending three days listening to 11 talks with titles like “Is there one true religion?”, “Skeletons in the Catholic closet” and “Post-Vatican II: Has the Church changed for better or worse?” And to attend daily Mass, rosary devotions, and the divine office too. But, surprisingly, some 30 Catholics did that in early May.
They were at “Roman Catholicism 201”, a three-day seminar organised by the Apostolate for Catholic Truth (ACT). ACT is a lay apologetics and evangelisation association which aims to provide well researched responses to many questions asked today by non-Catholics and Catholics.
ACT vice-chairman Andrew Kong, 51, said that this seminar was a follow-up from a successful two-day seminar held last December. “We called that “Roman Catholicism 101” and we covered seven controversies faced by a Catholic today,” he said. This time the seminar duration was increased from two days to three, and topics covered widened to include philosophy and questions such as the role of faith in the public square, and a bit of Catholic history.
The participants seemed to have had a satisfying time.
“I would encourage all Catholics to attend this seminar,” enthused Angeline Lim, 28, a parishioner of Church of the Holy Spirit. “It really opened my mind to defend the truth and the importance of being equipped and prepared to stand up for our faith!”
Samantha Chan, 27, a member of Singapore Archdiocesan Catholic Charismatic Renewal Youth, agreed.
Their assessment reflected the mood at the seminar, which would be an encouragement to anyone concerned with the health of the Church.
Many participants took notes while others listened and contemplated quietly. One participant from Kuala Lumpur recorded the sessions on his video camcorder. They raised a multitude of questions for the 11 speakers, including Father David Garcia and Professor Mark Nowacki, who teaches philosophy at the Singapore Management University, to answer.
What really is apologetics? It is not a intellectual smart bomb to be thrown at the opposition, Dismas Chew, 34, chairman of ACT, clarified.
“Apologetics is really about getting people to know and love
Jesus Christ,” he explained. “Many people are searching for something that can satisfy both their heads and hearts and I believe that only Jesus Christ and the Church he founded can do so.”
Dismas should know. He once considered himself a staunch Buddhist who was active in conducting meditation and dharma classes. Now a Catholic, he sees his time as a devout Buddhist as a preparation for the Gospel.
“When I was a Buddhist, I was searching for the truth. Now that I am a Catholic, I can talk to Truth himself, Jesus Christ who is the Son of God who loves me and gave Himself for me.” n