SINGAPORE – In May this year, instead of heading off to some exotic destination for the school holidays, 117 people of varied religious persuasions, decided to take off on an adventure of a different kind.

Gathered together at the Catholic Spirituality Centre (CSC), they came with different expectations, but with one objective – a close, personal encounter with God. CSC was established in September 2004 to promote an ongoing holistic spirituality for the Archdiocese of Singapore with a view towards conversion and evangelization. The Conversion Experience Retreat (CER) is a cornerstone programme in its conversion and evangelization drive.

The four-day CER, now into its 10th run, is designed to enable participants, especially Catholics, to experience first-hand, God’s immense love and forgiveness so they would be encouraged to repent and reconcile with him, as well as to be renewed by the Holy Spirit and his gifts to be empowered to live a new life in Christ.

The retreat is conducted by Father William Goh, Spiritual Director of the CSC and Rector of St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary.

Through a combination of talks and participation in various liturgical and para-liturgical exercises, participants learn to appreciate the immeasurable love of God, the seven root sins, and how to be free of them, salvation through faith in Christ’s passion, and the power of the Word of God.

"It opened my eyes to understand that to look at all things in God’s perspective will lead me to a life of fullness," said participant Jean Soh, a parishioner at Church of the Risen Christ.

The non-Catholic participants too, encountered God in the CER.

Jane Quek remarked, "I fell in love with God… knowing truly his love for the first time." Justin Paul, who is currently going through RCIA, said, "[The CER] showed me an understanding of the Catholic faith that will be used as a foundation as I continue my RCIA journey."

The next CER is scheduled to run from Sep 11-14. Participants are encouraged to register early as the retreat is limited to 120 persons each time. Register before Aug 30 to enjoy an early bird discount at $80 (usual fee is $120) per participant. Fee includes accommodation and meals. Registration forms are available on www.catholic.org.sg/csctr or tel 6288 7901/6858 2716.

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