I would like to highlight the needs of the Mandarin-speaking Catholic community.

According to the website of the Commission for Apostolate of Mandarin-Speaking in Singapore, there are currently 21 parishes in Singapore that hold Chinese Masses regularly.

The issue at hand is: Are there enough Mandarin-speaking priests within these 21 parishes to not only celebrate Chinese Masses but also offer the much needed spiritual direction for the various Chinese ministries and groups in these parishes?

In addition, is there a good distribution of Mandarin-speaking priests across these parishes to ensure that our priests in these parishes are not overloaded with their duties to the Chinese-speaking community?

Given the limited number of Mandarin-speaking priests, it is understandable that the Chinese-speaking community is disappointed with the recent transfers of some Mandarin-speaking priests from parishes that have relatively large, vibrant and active Chinese groups.

One cannot help but wonder if such deployment of priests is a signal that the Chinese-speaking community is viewed as a declining population. If such is the case, I would beseech anyone who holds such an opinion to reconsider. Given the influx of Chinese nationals, there are more Chinese in Singapore than at any point in our nation’s history.

Many other Christian churches have attracted these new migrants with Chinese services and programs. Some even made Chinese interpretations of English services readily available.

On the other hand, in our Catholic Church, we have had so many instances of Catholics from China going over to other Christian churches due to the lack of Chinese Masses and activities for them.

The Chinese community in Singapore has a real need for Mandarin-speaking priests to serve them.

However, bearing in mind the limited number of Mandarin-speaking priests in our diocese, I would suggest that such priests be deployed within the 21 parishes.

Let us also not forget that our pool of priests is aging and their number is getting smaller. Starting more Chinese services at other parishes other than the 21 would then not be a good idea.

May God help the Mandarin-speaking priests to shepherd His Chinese flock.

Mel Phua-Carroll

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