SINGAPORE – The Catholic Research Centre is looking at forming a training and research committee comprising Catholic academics from the local universities to provide a platform for Catholic academics to network and talk about common issues.

This, it is hoped, will result in good ideas being generated to help the church and the Catholic community grapple with today’s increasingly complex situations and issues in the world, and in the light of their Catholic faith, values and principles.

As the late Holy Father John Paul II said in his encyclical Faith and Reason: "Faith and Reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth – in a word, to know himself-so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the
fullness of truth about themselves."

The centre, which was previously under the wing of the archdiocesan Family Life Society, was responsible for the census of the Catholic population undertaken late last year. It published the results of the census of the entire
Catholic population in CatholicNews in May 2008 and is currently producing a separate census report for each parish. The data would be useful for each Parish Pastoral Council to deliberate and to identify pastoral priorities within the parish. In addition, further pastoral plans are being initiated for the archdiocese based on the significant findings of the census and recommendations from the various working committees.

Led by Jesuit Father Charles Sim, who is director of the centre, and a board comprising professionals from the legal, business and journalism fields, the research centre is now directly under the purview of the Archdiocese of Singapore as a company limited by guarantee, making it a legal entity in Singapore. CRC(S) hopes to undertake good quality research projects incorporating the best of the secular sciences with Catholic principles. The objectives of CRC(S) are:

1. To initiate, develop, gather, research and compile statistics and information and to analyze and study the same for the benefit and growth of the Catholic faith in Singapore;

2. To create and maintain research databases, be a depository and function as a library and resource centre for the benefit and growth of the Catholic faith in Singapore;

3. To formulate policies and plans for the strengthening or formation of healthy Catholic families and individuals;

4. To provide support for the various Catholic social and community organizations, facilitate an exchange of ideas, gather resources, and promote the development of strategies and actions to better serve the broader community.

The centre is looking not only to help Singapore but also our Southeast Asian neighbours. Its initiative to contact the various Catholic Family Commissions of Southeast Asia led to a Family Symposium last Apr 25-27 in Singapore. Led by the Singapore Resource Team (SRT) comprising a group of volunteers who formed themselves to plan topics that answer requests of other teams from various countries, such similar events will continue to be
planned and experts sourced to help in areas concerning the family and non-profit management.

Said Father Charles, "Good data and planning are needed to enable the church to make sound decisions for her pastoral endeavours and care of the people of God in our challenging society. Furthermore, it is important also to obtain good advice (from competent persons) so as to chart a clear course for the church in the near future. However, good research findings is only one aspect of the equation; the other is an effective implementation system to see to the transformation of good ideas into lived realties for the betterment of God’s people. Thus, there is always a need for closer collaboration between our lay Catholic professionals and religious leaders in this endeavour."

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