Gerard Ee, former president of the National Council of Social Service and present chairman of the National Kidney Foundation, also says the Catholic Church in Singapore should consider using modern management principles to improve on the delivery of its social services

AT THE CATHOLIC Welfare Services 50th anniversary dinner, Minister Lim Boon Heng congratulated the Church for its services to the community in the last half century. In addition the Minister called on the Church to reflect on how it can improve on existing services and do more.

The Catholic Church and its institutions have indeed done much since the arrival of its first missionary. Today we have 26 Catholic schools, a hospital, hospices and several nursing homes. Through the St. Vincent de Paul Society the Catholic Church reaches out to the poor.

The question of whether we can be better at our services and do even more is relevant and timely. As Willie Cheng says, “Do good, better.” We can and should consider using modern management principles to improve on how we provide our services. Perhaps we could consider a modern business practice by establishing “shared services” whereby there is a centralised purchasing for common consumables like adult pampers, various drugs and basic necessities. Whilst each parish taps on their own parishioners to help with the parish’s needs, perhaps panels of experts can be formed at the Church level to provide advice and guides to the parishes. This will enable the creation of knowledge bases and solutions can be more easily found for common issues amongst our parishes. Having central pools of experts will ensure consistency in dealing with matters and processes, as well as avoid reinventing the wheel. If these experts are grounded on the Catholic ethos then their advice will also better reflect our Catholic ways.

The challenge to do more will meet some reservations as many people will immediately think of the difficulties of getting volunteers. Perhaps with the Church’s call to living our social mission, the Church could coordinate the planning and delivery of services and call upon its nationwide congregation to rally forth and serve on various committees. As a national congregation we are not short of resources. Our parishioners cover the whole spectrum of human resource, from experts and handymen to willing hands. Our parishioners come from all walks of life. We have people who can advise on how to tap on government resources, work efficiently within the regulatory framework, help implement processes, and more. They can tap on the knowledge base, if one is established at the Church level.

We have seen how certain other non-Catholic churches working as one community can achieve astounding results in a short time. As parishes we are smaller than many non-Catholic churches doing great works. As one Church we are a large community with all the resources we could ever need to carry out God’s works, the way it should be, glorifying His greatness.

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