Right, Tony See shows the nuns the Book of Elect where catechumens write their names during the Rite of Election. Some excited sisters decided to take pictures.

SINGAPORE - Forty-three nuns from Thailand spent the Nov 19-20 weekend in Singapore to learn about the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) process here. The nuns were from nine different congregations.

Their initiation into the process here began with a lively presentation at the YMCA Metropolitan (Stevens Road) by Father Johnson Fernandez, parish priest of the Church of Holy Trinity and Director of Religious Education, and Tony See and Kim Ho, RCIA coordinator and assistant coordinator respectively at the Church of the Holy Spirit.

They provided an overview of the historical development of the RCIA, its practice in Singapore, its biblical connection, and emphasised on making disciples rather than baptising Christians. The presenters also enacted the Signing of the Senses (a crucial part of the Rite of Acceptance whereby inquirers declare their acceptance to be members of the Catholic Church and are in turn accepted by the Church).

Despite some language difficulty, the visitors were able to appreciate the significance of the RCIA process.

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The entourage split up into four groups the next day to get a first-hand experience of the RCIA "Breaking of Word" at the parishes of St. Francis Xavier, Holy Cross, St. Anthony and Holy Spirit. The Breaking of Word is a process in the RCIA journey where catechumens and their sponsors are sent from the church after the homily each week to "break open" the Gospel message during which they reflect, share and deepen their understanding and faith in Christ. The visitors shared their own experiences of Christ with the catechumens at the parishes.

In the evening, they went to the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (OLPS) to witness the baptism of 36 adults and six children. After Mass, they joined the newly baptised in the homes of several sponsors.

Vincent and Jane Kwa, parishioners from OLPS, hosted seven of them and were pleased that the sisters were able to see how the RCIA is brought to the whole parish.

"We try to promote RCIA in Thailand," Sister Astella Siripon Jitsanore from the Sisters of the Lover of the Holy Cross of Ubonratchatness said. "That's why we come to observe."

Where she comes from, there are only a few churches that run RCIAs and each has only about 20 people. She finds her Singapore experience extremely inspiring and said that the sisters want to try to change the process in Thailand.

Their visit was organised by the Singapore Pastoral Institute, which guides the RCIA process in various parishes.

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