Peter Loke receives his service appreciation award from Archbishop Chia. Photo by Peter Heng

SINGAPORE – It has been a “long path” for Peter Loke, 68, who has been with the Legion of Mary for 50 years. An ex-student of Catholic High School, Mr Loke had been in contact with the Legionaries in his school even before he was baptised as a Catholic – he recounts them helping him in his schoolwork, his participating in their ball games after class and joining them on outings and for Sunday Masses.

“Their lives have shown me a good example,” he said.

At 18 years old, he was baptised. A week after baptism, he joined the Legion of Mary (Example of Virtue Praesidium) where he has been with since.

Mr Loke was one of the 52 Legionaries who received a service appreciation award for 20 years of service or more to the Legion of Mary at the Golden Jubilee celebration of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Curia on Jul 12 at Church of St. Teresa. Archbishop Nicholas Chia celebrated the Mass attended by about 750 people.

In Archbishop Chia’s congratulatory letter to the Curia, he noted that on this “occasion of joy and thanksgiving” the apostolate has contributed and is contributing to the growth of the Church through their work and example. He exhorted them to always remember Our Blessed Mother’s words at Cana to “Do whatever He tells you”, to also abide in Christ and “proclaim the Good News to the world”.

The day’s celebration also saw the blessing of the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel with the priests putting on the scapular on the Legionaries as a form of devotion and consecration to Mother Mary. It also saw the appointment of Ian Heng, 22 as Junior Curia President.

Mr Heng has been with the Legion for nine years – joining the Legion of Mary in Maris Stella High School before heading over to the ‘Mother of Youth’ Praesidium at Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Looking back, Mr Heng said that the Legion of Mary has helped him to be more disciplined, to have a sense of duty, to be a humble servant-leader, and to take a greater interest in Church affairs.

For both men, the 50th anniversary is a joyous event to remember. God-willing, Mr Heng hopes to continue to contribute to the Legion for the next 50 years. He said, “The event is a good reminder for all of us to continue to do our work.”

Mr Loke, one of three members in the Curia who has served 50 years, is firstly grateful to God for a smooth-sailing life, and secondly his family’s support which enabled him to continue his Legion work throughout the years. The weekly Legion meetings and sharing, which he likened to a family get-together, became a source of motivation for him to soldier on despite thoughts of quitting from time to time.

Having witnessed the changes throughout the years, Mr Loke notes that the Legion used to engage in many house visits. But, today, he said, it is not easy to go round knocking on people’s doors. Nowadays, he visits hospitals and old-folks homes more often instead.

While he is happy to receive an award, he said he respects those for standing firm with the Legion’s cause and work in spite of them having to juggle between work, family problems and the Legion. He says there is a need for more teenagers to join the Legion and for grandparents and parents to encourage them.

“Under the support of the Legion, the youth will grow to be good Catholics and good citizens,” he said.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel is the oldest among the four Mandarin-speaking Legion of Mary Curiae in Singapore and is made up of the various praesidia in the City, North and Serangoon districts.

By Darren Boon

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