Tomorrow Newspaper St Mary of the Angels
Issue No. 58 | July 2012
MICA (P) 010/09/2011
St Mary’s Bowl 2012
Friends, Fun and a Perfect Game! By M i k a Lo w
t’s that time of the year for bowling enthusiasts in St Mary’s. Around 60 parishioners and friends participated in the annual 9-pin tap fun bowling event was held at the Civil Service Club. Rules were simple, bowl three games, make friends, and have fun! Organisers started getting ready at 1pm, laying out prizes... Oh prizes! Like every year, there were plenty of them. Goodies such as electrical goods worth up to $200 were given out to the top bowlers. As it is, after all, a fun bowling event, prizes were also given out to lucky bowlers, making sure no one was left out. This year, for the first time, we set up an instant photo booth, where our very own Luminaire photographer would bring out your best-looking, professional bowler image and hand it to you – in just minutes! Anyway, being a bowling enthusiast myself, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to bowl and get to know some of our fellow parishioners. In fact, this is the third consecutive time that I’m joining this event. Of all the times I’ve participated, this year was the most competitive. This year, a perfect game was achieved. A perfect game means that the bowler has scored 12 consecutive strikes, giving him the highest possible score of 300. That bowler is Jonah Goh, also the overall individual champion of this year’s tournament. While chatting with him after the tournament, I realised what he had achieved was no surprise. It turns out Jonah had started bowling when he was just seven years old. When asked about what attributed to his high score, he humbly said that bowling here is less stressful as compared to the usual competitions he has been to. Fellow bowlers, Joshua Chua and Eugene Hng, who were in the same team, reiterated this point. Both of them, who did not know each other before the event, agreed that they felt more comfortable playing here. This was also partly why Eugene has never prize winners for this failed to attend our St Mary’s bowl for year’s competition the last four years. For others like Serene Koh, this was her first-ever competition. She was a last-minute replacement for her eldest son, who couldn’t make it. When we asked her how she felt, she replied saying that she was stressed, although she was playing with her husband and younger son. Serene also added that it was good family bonding time. Besides, they realised that they weren’t the only family team. Sitting next to them at the alley just so happened to be another family. By the end of the event, they had found themselves bowling khakis who share the same faith. “I will come back again next year”, was what each of them happily said.
Men’s High Game Series Champion Jonah Goh (820) Lawrence Custodio (763) Philip Puspalm (693) Ladies’ Individual Champion Wan Su Sin (654) Margaret Lam (645) Zith Caneba (594) Men’s High Game 1st Jonah Goh (300) 2nd Lawrence Custodio (265) 3rd Tony Munoz (252) Ladies’ High Game 1st Margaret Lam (274) 2nd Belinda Hong (232) 3rd Janel Wong (230)
A Voyage of Food and Cultures Twilight Celebrates second Anniversary By T e r e s a Ko h
By J e n e t N at h a n . P h oto g r a p h s by R aym o n d R ua n .
he SMOTA Seniors were out again in June on one of their adventures! This time it was to the Maritime Experiential Museum and the Malaysian Food Street. So all 45 of them embarked on their journey from Church of St Mary of the Angels with rousing spirits and headed to Resort World Sentosa (RWS) where all the action was to be held. Upon arrival at RWS, the Seniors were all geared up for the first half of their adventure – to eat! And yes, to them it was truly an adventure. They gathered at the Malaysian Food Street to have their brunch, which was filled with exotic dishes from all over Malaysia. They indulged in a two-hour long brunch of exquisite dishes like the Petaling Street Famous Porridge, Roti Canai, KL Jalan Alor Hokkien Mee and even the famous Malacca Chicken Rice Ball. The Seniors got so high on food that they even started to ‘cheers’ each other with their Teh Tarik glasses. The Seniors clearly brought the spirit of friendship and love to the Malaysian Food Street. Although, whether it was a love for the food or for their friends is yet to be known.
After a satisfying brunch that filled both tummies and hearts, the Seniors journeyed on to the Maritime Experiential Museum (MEM). There, they ventured on a journey together with an animated Admiral Zheng He, who brought them on a journey
along the Maritime Silk Route. Admiral Zheng He was an explorer who set out with a fleet of 300 ships and 28,000 men and went for seven voyages between the years 1405 to 1422. During his voyages he learnt and gathered the cultures of the countries and civilisations along the Maritime Silk Route, and these were on display at the Museum. So the Seniors went about to experience the kaleidoscope of cultures and artefacts and were thrilled by the beauty of the past. They even found themselves in the Typhoon Theatre, which saw our Seniors immersed in a simulated shipwreck caused by a typhoon. Little needs to be said of how the Seniors reacted to this. For some of the Seniors, though, it was the next part of the tour that they were looking forward to the most – shopping! So the Seniors went about buying souvenirs and even spices like cinnamon powder and cloves. Their families were clearly at the top of their minds too, and they collected the Children’s Activity Kit, which included creating your own paper Chinese Junk and Wayang Kulit skins, for their grandchildren. After a nourishing experience at the Maritime Experiential Museum, the Seniors went back to their favourite pastime – eating. So they found themselves back at the Malaysian Food Street to have their tea-break and there was no reduction in the amount of food ordered when compared to the earlier brunch. The ever-caring Seniors also ordered the famous Penang egg tarts to be brought back for the dear Friars. After a hearty what-wassupposed-to-be-a-tea-break-but-seemedmore-like-dinner meal, the Seniors departed for St Mary of the Angels. They went on the journey empty handed, and returned with bags full of purchases. However, the experience of rich food and culture was definitely an educational one on top of the love and kinship that comes from these outings. The warm hearts and souls of the Seniors are never transient and are felt by all who cross their path.
Another Year Another year to create Precious memories together, Another year to discover New things to enjoy about each other, Another year to build A life rich in love and laughter, Another year to strengthen Bond and fellowship that defines “Forever”.
n 21 June 2012, the SMOTA Seniors celebrated the 2nd anniversary of their Twilight newsletter. It was a simple celebration, more so to acknowledge the gifts we receive through the Lord – the gift of James Wong and thus the gift of our Twilight newsletter. Below is the acknowledgment I made before we cut a cake and presented a token to James: I will always remember the day James walked into our Seniors’ gathering in mid 2010. Nobody brought him. But I believe it must be the beckoning of our Lord. He proposed to have this newsletter. I agreed apprehensively but James has lived up to his proposal during these two years. Without fail, even when his computer fails, he churns out our newsletter regularly and more or less single handedly. His commitment makes it hard for Seniors to turn him down when he approaches them for a write-up or some photos. Without James, there will be no Twilight as James has set a precedent hard to emulate. He not only put in his time but also his money (James had explicitly declined any reimbursement for all his expenses). Celebrating Twilight’s anniversary is celebrating God’s gift of James to our group! All praise and Thanks to God!
Communion of Communities
Towards a More Welcoming Church By S t e p h e n W o n g
uring the Parish Assembly in 2005, it was agreed by parishioners that one of the key priorities for our parish was to make it a more welcoming church. Since then, various efforts have been made to make our parish a more welcoming community. For a start, greeters were planted at the entrance of the Church before Mass to greet parishioners coming for Masses on Sundays. Since then, the efforts had to be shifted to other areas. Part of the reason was that the parish has grown so huge and it would become literally impossible for the few greeters at the door to say “hello” to the thousands who walk through the doors for Mass every weekend. On 23 June 2012, participants representing the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC), various Neighbourhood Christian Communities (NCC) as well as from various ministries
like Legion of Mary, Society of St Vincent de Paul (SVDP), Little Rock Bible Ministry, Communion Ministry, Lectors, Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA), the young adults group Emmaus, and the Filipino Ministry came together for a workshop entitled “Towards a More Welcoming Church”. Most came with excitement and eagerness of wanting to learn something that is new, useful and unable them to apply and assist themselves to be better facilitators in their respective groups. The workshop was filled with different activities such as an exercise to skin an apple, a short input session, a time of dialogue where various participants shared their own personal experiences of facilitating their groups, as well as a hands-on facilitating session.
right skills to be a good facilitator is also an answer to Jesus’ great commission for all of us to evangelise. It is also meant to help others encounter Christ and also for us to participate in the three-fold mission of Christ – to be Priest, Prophet & King. By being a good facilitator, one will be able to convey to others that they are being appreciated, accepted and affirmed. This, in essence, is showing reverence to the other person, which will then make the other person feel more welcomed in our midst.
do is to offer our own five loaves and two fishes.
Beside the input sessions, participants also found the sessions enjoyable and fun, especially during the various hands-on activities. “I had lots of fun,” PPC vice-chairman Timothy de Souza remarked at the end of the workshop.
Indeed, it is the gift of our selves to others during small group sharing, showing them reverence that will help them feel welcomed. It takes effort but this is what God has called each one of us to do. Like what Blessed Mother Theresa said, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.”
As the workshop progressed, it soon became apparent for all those present that all of us are the Church and each has a part to play in making this parish a more welcoming church. The deeper purpose of learning the
However, it was also shared that even having sharpened and equipped themselves with the practical facilitation skills, being a facilitator is not just about competency. It is also about trusting that God is at work and all we have to
It is the hope that such workshop will be conducted on a regular basis in the parish. Please email aff@ stmary.sg if you are interested and would like to be informed of such workshops in future.
“What gives the session its success is who the facilitators are. We give what we are and have,” said Margaret, one of the participants at the workshop.
Goodbye Loneliness, Hello Happiness R e f l e c t i o n by Gi n a C a mb a lo n
appiness is the pursuit of every individual. Many people spend so much money, time and effort to achieve this. For some people, the choice to go overseas either to work or for a grand vacation is the only means to meet and satisfy this goal. On the other hand, everyone dread loneliness for it is said as one of the biggest illnesses in the world. It strikes silently; deepens to depression and knows neither barriers of class, creed, financial standing nor even age. Nearly four years ago, I left the Philippines to commence a job in this side of Asia, in a country known to have the best investment potential in the world. Memories of my emotional departure, away from my husband and three beautiful children – the youngest just a year old and still in nappies – stay vivid in my memory. There are many like me – in Singapore and elsewhere in the world. I immersed myself in my work – partly to do well and provide for a better life for my family. Partly, also, to stay focussed; distracted; and tackle my challenges one day at a time. Despite being a positiveminded, mature and focused 30-plus wife and mother of three, it was never easy.
Often I was on the verge of giving up my job and the search for the rainbow for my family. The tears on my pillow will bear testimony to this. Half a year after my arrival in 2008 in Singapore, and after leading a humdrum getup-and-to-go-to-work and come-back-cookmy-dinner-and-go-to-sleep daily routine, an amazing grace came along. Since my coming here was more of a need and not something that I wanted nor liked at first, God changed my heart to love it here and He gave me the grace to accept the necessary sacrifices, thus letting Him lead my life, especially being away from home and family. God answered my prayers for strength to run the race; for hope to achieve what I dreamed of for my family; to complete my mission in Singapore. I noted this grace as a miracle. Miracles like this happen to all of us. I realised we must learn to spot them, and accept them with commitment to overcome our challenges. A simple phone call from a new friend, whom I met at St Mary’s, became a turning point in my life. That was an invitation for me to their group gathering at their home for an evening of prayer, Gospel sharing and fellowship.
The first NCC I joined with was in Jelapang whose Coordinator was Bro Rey Magpayo. He and his wife welcomed me in the community with hearts of love, and an introduction to a host of warm, like-minded brothers and sisters in the community. Above all, I inherited a shifu called Jesus Christ through the regular Gospel reading, reflection and sharing. With profound gratitude to Him, I decided to ‘pass it forward’ to other people the very useful resource to overcoming life’s uncertainties with full of optimism and trust in God’s unceasing love and mercy!
The group is called the Neighbourhood Christian Community (NCC) – a community of baptised Christians upholding the call to be a Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church through reflection and sharing the Word of God with faith, hope and love in the neighbourhood.
Indeed, loneliness has become easy to bear. Along with seven other members from the growing NCC at Jelapang, we pioneered the opening of the NCC group in Yew Tee area with Bro Bay Nicdao as coordinator in 2010 and another NCC group in the Choa Chu Kang Crescent area in 2011.
Today, I actively serve in the NCC and also serve in the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC). The PPC helps Fr John-Paul Tan spearhead the growth of our Church of St Mary of The Angels and to light up every parishioner’s life. I am one such beneficiary. Through the NCC and prayers, I found myself being surrounded by amazing and wonderful people of God. Through God I found my passport to peace, platitude, passion, perseverance and the power of positive thinking. Today, I am no longer lonely. Today, I am no longer afraid. The tears on my pillow have all dried up. Today, I am ready for tomorrow. And to think it all started with a phone call from a friend. Or should I say prayers which prompted that fateful phone call.
Parish Retreat 2012
“Making Disciples, Spreading Love”
e are all disciples of Christ by virtue of our baptism. As His disciples, Christ gave us the mandate, “Go and make disciples”. How do we answer this call? How do we live our call to discipleship? How can we be disciples in our “practical” life situations such as someone cutting the queue, planning to take on better-paying jobs and advancing in our careers, ensuring our children do “well” in life, coping with backstabbing, nosy in-laws, neighbors from different cultures etc. As part of the parish’s celebration of 50th anniversary of Vatican II, the parish has invited Thomas Smith to Singapore. Join Thomas Smith from Aug 22-25 as he shares how we can be better disciples of Christ and how we can enable others to be disciples. We then conclude with a one-day workshop exploring the life of the early Church community in Corinth, who faced exactly what we are all struggling with in modern society: divisions, immorality, trials, multi-cultures diversity and politics. Wednesday, 22 Aug 2012 The Roles of a Disciple: Prophet, Priest and King By virtue of our baptism, every Catholic (Church member) is invited to participate in Jesus Christ’s offices as prophet, priest and king. Using key characters from the Bible as a starting point, Thomas will explore the powerful invitation of Christ to live out these realities in our homes, parishes, and personal ministries, as foundational to furthering the mission of the Church and re-building a civilization of love. Thursday, 23 Aug 2012 The Characteristics of a Disciple: The Fruit of the Spirit In the bible, Galatians 5:22-23, St. Paul reveals the 9 key characteristics of Christ that are implanted in the soul at baptism, but remain latent without our cooperation. Learn the 7 ways to cultivate these powerful traits in yourselves and others to reinvigorate your spiritual life, parish ministries and evangelization efforts. Friday, 24 Aug 2012 The Path of a Disciple: The Beatitudes - Pathways to the Kingdom These 8 powerful invitations from Christ reveal His countenance, His keys for human happiness, how to advance in the spiritual life, the paths for experiencing His Kingdom now, and much more. Saturday, 25 Aug 2012 The Community of Disciples: The Church (Full-day Workshop based on Corinthians) The conflicts of the early Christians in Corinth were in many ways similar to our struggles today as Christians. With divisions, immorality, persecution, and other trials of the faithful, the message of St. Paul to the Corinthians is a much-needed message for our own times. This full-day workshop will explore the key elements that the apostle Paul introduced to a new and growing Church. St. Paul taught the Corinthians about the nature of grace and the Church as the Body of Christ. In addition, he introduced the Corinthian Christians to the most powerful gift of all, the Eucharist. Audience of this series will: • Learn the importance of Christian unity in relation to the Church as the Body of Christ. • Explore St Paul’s strategy for successful evangelization. • See how to live a Christian life in the midst of a pagan culture. • Discover why St Paul sees the Church as the Body of Christ. • Learn how St Paul’s letter proves that the sacrifice of Christ is truly made present in the Eucharist. • Gain a new vision for seeing the body as a temple of the Holy Spirit.
Join us at the Parish Retreat 2012! For enquires, call 6567-3866 or email email@example.com
Guest speaker Thomas Smith will help participants learn the importance of Christian unity in relation to the Church as the Body of Christ at this year’s Parish Retreat.
Sec 3 Activity Day
Kicking Off the Confirmation Journey By K at h e r i n e A r t e c h e
n June 30, 2012, some 153 Secondary 3 Confirmands began their Confirmation year with a bang.
The Secondary 3 Activity Day was a day of fun for bonding the Confirmands and the catechists alike prior to the start of their Confirmation year. They were filed into 8 groups (named after the Fruits of the Holy Spirit) as they gathered in St Clare Hall and looked at their new classmates for the first time. After a welcoming prayer, the games began. Ice-breaker games resounded throughout the hall as introductions were exchanged and raucous laughter were expelled as amusing game forfeits were carried out. The success of the mass ice-breaker games brought the entire cohort in a pumped-up mood and the games continued to the outdoors at Bukit Batok Nature Park. It was already midday and the earth was showered with a light drizzle. The slightly gloomy weather starked in contrast to the line-up of activities that awaited them but if one had sneaked a peek to the clouds above, sunlight was already emerging between the clouds of grey. The park became a ground of inter-group competitions as it was a race against time in all four game stations. Confirmands and Catechists alike got down and dirty getting smeared in mud, sweat, toothpaste and flour. The friendly competitions moulded the groups to display an amazing picture of unison and blooming friendships among one another. They also discovered one another’s personal skills and leaderships. No one counted scores, for the focus on fun was unbelievably strong. The day was coming to a close but the games were not yet over. With all the energy they had left to muster, everyone braced themselves for the ultimate mass competition game of ‘Protect the Fort’. Each group had three simple feeble forts constructed from wooden chopsticks and raffia strings. The objective was to burn other forts using lighted candles and the group with the most forts protected would emerge victorious. Like a scene from The Hunger Games, the attackers wielded their unlighted candle sticks and ran out from all directions to the middle of the muddy field to the resource hut for fire. The few defenders of the fort guarded well by blowing off the flames before the raffia strings could feel the heat. Like an art of war, some strategies pulled off while many failed. The sun was out and was about to set as we headed back to the hall to celebrate losses, wins and most importantly, newfound friendships. We sang hymns and did simple action songs to cool off our worn-out muscles. As the Confirmands filtered out the hall towards home, they all looked evidently exhausted yet in high spirits. We are all companions on a journey. And through this Activity Day, may the Confirmands realize how important it is to have fellowship in our spiritual lives, following the example of Jesus Christ, who is a companion for us all.
Fishing for Fun and Faith with Friends By C h e r y l E d i n a T e o
n 19 June, more than 20 youths from Church of St Mary of the Angels gathered for a day of fishing with parish priest Father John-Paul Tan. Spearheaded by Youth & Young Adults Office intern Michael Tian Ye, together with help from Communications Office intern Aloysius Teo, the fishing trip at Woodlands Waterfront – away from the urban hustle and bustle – was a refreshing new experience for many of the youths. Even as the fishing enthusiasts within the group who fish on a regular basis baited their hooks and cast their lines effortlessly, the first-timers slowly picked up the art of fishing, with the help of Fr JP and some of the more experienced fishers. While patience was an obvious virtue that was critical, good judgment was also necessary. Spot the school of fishes, cast the line at that spot, stay quiet and wait patiently for a catch. Of course, a prayer or two might help. Although fishes evaded most of the youths – some cleverly stole the bait without being hooked, leaving some youths exasperated – Fr JP left the trip with a comparatively commendable catch of about 5 to 6 fishes. Though only Fr JP and fishing buff Zachary Leong from the Knights of the Altar could claim to have caught any fish, the trip was clearly not in vain. According to a participant Isabelle, 13, “the fishes swam around the bait but did not eat.” Clarice, Isabelle’s friend, agreed and stated that fishing was “tricky”. Despite this, Isabelle opined that besides the heat, she had fun and the experience was quite fruitful although she did not catch any fishes. Indeed, the initial scorching heat did not deter the youths from having fun. Neither did their perspiration drench their enthusiasm and hope to catch some fishes. However, Just as everyone was settling down and getting the hang of the routine casting of lines and checking for the disappearance
of their bait, dark clouds started looming over our heads. Though this did not deter many of the youths, the gloomy skies threatened to rain on our parade. And sure did it. Shortly after packing up and heading for shelter, the skies tore, sending showers of rain down. Spirits were not dampened as many of the youths found ways to keep themselves entertained while waiting for the bus. It was very nice of Fr Derrick and the Catechist Office to drop by during teatime to bring us more food and drinks, and to help transport some of the equipment. Although the fishing trip was cut short by the unexpected downpour, it was a fun-filled experience. While some saw it as a time to catch up and have fun with their friends, for others, it was a time to be away from everything and to just relish in the presence of nature. Aiden Lee, 17, who just got baptised this year, was pleased with the trip as, on the one hand, he got to see many new and interesting faces, and on the other, he could take time out to enjoy the serenity the waterfront provided. “I thought it was quite fun. It’s nice going away from the city and just relaxing for half a day even if I got a really weird tan,” Aiden responded good-humouredly.
“This is a great beginning. To see the ministry growing from strength to strength, and now to be able to exhibit works that are close to their hearts, especially about faith and God, which is what ministry is all about,” says Fr Derrick Yap, spiritual director of the Luminaire Photography Ministry. Titled “Year of Faith”, the inaugural Luminaire photography exhibition on June 23-24 was a vibrant success. Showcasing a total of 111 photographs centred on the theme, the 17 participating lens-men (and women) were excited to have the opportunity to share their works with parishioners and friends. “This year, we celebrate the Year of Faith, and we are all invited to capture glimpses of faith in our lives. And photographers do this best through their lenses,” says Fr Derrick. “I pray that our photographers will continue to serve the Lord and his people and to evoke faith through their pictures.” Interested to join the Luminaire team in this colourful ministry? Contact Jimmo Petisme via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catechists’ Make Up Camp 2012 By M at h e w P i u s
Saturday on June 30 was a day well spent when six of us catechists joined resident art therapist at HeartSpace, Joanna Tan, for a day of reflection and meditation as we explored our purpose as catechists. We started with a small sharing session and we each stated our reasons for having joined the ministry. It was inspiring to know that many of these reasons were similar: ranging from needing to join a ministry at church, to having a passion for teaching (for a select few of us). However, we realised towards the end of the sharing that the reason we continue to serve God as catechists was more imperative than the reason we joined. We continued our retreat under Aunty Joanna’s guidance as we embarked on a simple drawing activity. We were asked to make a mark on our paper of any shape and size. We were then asked to pass it around and at 1-minute intervals added to everyone else’s drawings but our own. And when we finally got our drawing paper back, we saw how our little mark had been transformed by our fellow catechists. A few of us even had trouble identifying our initial marks, but we learnt the importance of making a contribution despite not knowing what the final outcome might be. The final results were stunning as we had no idea what to expect. As we sought to apply this momentous activity to our own lives we came up with a few meaningful interpretations. The first was to be confident in any task one undertakes (in this case, drawing for each other) as we were initially hesitant when we felt we might not contribute to the picture but instead ruin it. Secondly, we should always be optimistic in life so as to do our part well and then to simply leave the rest to God. Lastly, we established a link with our ministry when we realised that teamwork and establishing trust between our fellow catechists helps in our lessons.
Our second activity was even more insightful than the first. We were given a block of clay and, with no other instructions, we were asked to create something. Many of our creations were symbolic and pertained to the church, with the symbol of the cross a popular choice. But the most exciting part of our activity was realising how much we can learn from symbols. We were asked to give our symbols a voice by recording a monologue using both our left and right hands. Our right hands would ask our clay mouldings a question and using our left hand we would answer this question, seemingly from a different entity altogether. This gave our creations clarity and voices, which we all felt was meaningful in different ways. We had to end with a montage using pictures we obtained from magazines as we contributed quotes on what we
felt the meaning of being a catechist was. This particular activity created many interesting moments as we grasped the importance of being receptive and fearless, and learning from our students and God. We also discussed the difference between working for God and doing God’s work, and its importance. The amazing thing about this short 3-hour retreat was the experience and understanding we obtained given the short duration. The usage of symbols in learning was something we could use more actively in our lessons when teaching our students. We ended on a happy note, grateful for this soul searching and self-enriching retreat. Many thanks to God for making it a blessed time for all of us and for his guiding strength and protection throughout.
Get in on the Acts The Little Rock Bible Ministry (LRBM) has invited Fr Ambrose Vaz who will conduct over 13 weekly sessions, talks on Acts of the Apostles. The talks will be held every Monday between 27 Aug and 19 Nov 2012 at St Clare Hall. For participants’ convenience, the talks will be held in the morning, with repeat sessions in the evening. Please refer to www.stmary-lrbm.org.sg for details of the programme. Registration will be via the website only. Registration will open on 28 Jul and close on 19 Aug. Please register early to avoid disappointment. Contact persons: • Angela Teoh (Morning Session): 9744-0933 • Stanley Guan (Evening Session): 9189-1830 • Michael Arteche (LRBM Co-ordinator): 9827-5995 LRBM is a community devoted to the learning, understanding and sharing of the Word of God. Its mission is to promote a Bible learning culture by encouraging and facilitating bible study and sharing within the parish and Neighbourhood Christian communities. Over the years, the Ministry has conducted various Bible studies under the Little Rock Scripture Study programme, including ‘Introduction to the Bible’, ‘Lands of the Bible’, and ‘Exodus’.
“I was in prison and you visited me.” by S t e p h e n W o n g
ur search for a new table that we intended to use in the prayer corner at home brought my wife and I to this place, The Helping Hand, along Upper Serangoon Road one Saturday afternoon. We knew little about this place before the visit, except that it was a halfway house that helped ex-offenders. More importantly, we knew this place sold teak furniture. And being a fan of wooden furniture, we headed there to simply “check out” if they had anything that suited what we were looking for. As I drove into the compound, we were welcomed by a friendly smile of one of the residents, who directed me to where I could park my car. I found it strange to have someone directing traffic, considering that the huge compound only had four cars at that time. My mind then became suspicious and wondered if he was going to approach me for some car parking charges next. Instead, what came was a welcoming smile and wave from this person as I got out of the car. We proceeded to walk around and look at the furniture on display. Initially, we walked around alone, as the few “sales staff” present were busy with other customers. This suited us fine, as I personally dislike entering a shop and being followed and haggled by sales
people. We combed through what we thought was the entire place and were about to leave, when we caught sight of an interesting piece of furniture. It was then that we approached a “sales person” for enquiries. Immediately, he told us that the piece we were looking at was on sale the previous week due to the Great Singapore Sale. However, he went on to calculate the “best discount” he could give us despite us not asking for it. The usual enquiries took place: What wood is this? Where is it from? Can it last? What’s the difference between this type of wood and others? He patiently took on all our questions, and even laughed that he didn’t know about oak wood when asked about the differences between the meh wood we were looking at and the more commonly known oak wood. Even after all our questions, he wasn’t upset when we said we couldn’t afford to buy it. Instead, he went on to show us around, much to our surprise. We toured the workshop where they worked on furniture such as varnishing, polishing them before delivering them to customers. We peeped at the dormitories, with industrial fans on the ceiling, where the 80-plus residents stayed. He brought us to another two rooms which we didn’t know had more furniture on display. It was in the last room where we stopped and he started opening up to us, chatted with us and shared his story.
Here was a real story of a man who has a 5-year-old son and a wife who refused to divorce him despite him being convicted and going in and out of jail several times for drug offences. “That’s why my wife called me a hard-core,” he joked. He openly shared that he could only meet his son once a week on Sundays, which were his only off days. Other times of the week, he had to stay in the halfway house where he also worked as part of his rehabilitation programme. “Some weekends, my son doesn’t seem to recognise me as his father,” he lamented. The hope that keeps him going now is his family – his wife and son. He is simply contented with life now, with the knowledge that he has an understanding wife who has been standing by him all these years, a 5-year-old son, and a loving God, whom he prays to. He openly disclosed that he may suffer a relapse of his darker days again although he admitted it is something that he doesn’t want to. Even as he gleamed that his last day of rehabilitation programme in this halfway house was coming to an end in a week’s time, this 52-year-old man smiled and shared that he has chosen to continue staying there to work, exclaiming, “At my age, where do I find a job outside here? Who would want to employ me?” With his sharings, including how life was like at present from the olden days of Drug Rehabilitation Centres (DRC) to the modern
cluster setup, the conversation lasted for almost 30 minutes, much longer than the 10 minutes time we took to look at the lovely crafted meh wood table. We didn’t manage to buy what we were looking for, but our experience and conversation was definitely enriched by that “visit”. It definitely reminded me of the conversations I had with the Roman Catholic Prisons Ministry (RCPM) weeks ago: about how RCPM knows of exoffenders being released and are now living in the Bukit Batok and Bukit Panjang neighbourhoods; conversations that included how the parish can reach out to these ex-offenders. When we left, he shook our hands with appreciation that we had spent time with him, and had listened to him. A handshake with the firmness that said “thank you”, “thanks for accepting who I am”, “thanks for giving up your precious time just to hear me out”, “thanks for this gesture of friendship” and a smile of appreciation that made me realise how the Lord was present throughout our conversation. For comments or if you feel called and desire to be part of the pilot project that includes reaching out and befriending ex-convicts in our neighbourhood, contact email@example.com or the Parish Social Work Office.
Manila Youth Broadcast Views Manila
For 14-year-old Sarilaya especially, it was a “dream job come true,” as she hopes to become a full-time broadcast journalist.
“It was impossible for us kids to go on air. Now we have this chance to express our thoughts and feelings,” she said.
By J ua n F o n t e j o n , U C AN e w s ,
radio show that deals with children’s and women’s rights is not necessarily unusual. The big difference with Kaya Natin To Kids (We Can Do This, Kids,) which aired in the Philippines for the first time on 8 July, is that it is hosted entirely by young people from Manila’s slums. The one-hour show is sponsored by ARCSEA – the Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia – with additional funding from Gabriela, a Philippine women’s group. The first edition addressed topics from breastfeeding to the lowering of the age of criminal liability. News, interviews, music and drama are also part of the mix. On the debut broadcast, hosting duties were performed by Aprilyn Gerodias, Tricia Cabatingan and Sarilaya Cartagena, who described themselves as “nervous but excited”.
To prepare for the show, 50 children from five poor neighbourhoods in Metro Manila took part in a wideranging workshop that covered children’s rights, theatre, broadcasting and scriptwriting. Between them they now make the editorial decisions on what issues to highlight, then write and produce the script. “The show aims to be a forum for children to have a say on the issues that affect them and their community,” said Madella Santiago, ARCSEA executive director. “Radio is an effective means for children to know what’s happening in our society. We know that they are not immune from the issues of poverty and hunger.”
Kaya Natin To Kids (We Can Do This, Kids) aired in the Philippines for the first time on 8 July. The hour-long broadcast, sponsored by Association for the Rights of Children in Southeast Asia, is hosted entirely by young people from Manila’s slums.
Have a Little Faith... By Peter Hong
Have a Little Faith: A True Story by Mitch Albom ($17.90) Will you do my eulogy? With those words, Mitch Albom begins his long-awaited return to non-fiction. His journey to honour the last request of a beloved clergyman ultimately leads him to rekindle his own long-ignored faith. Albom spends years exploring churches and synagogues, the suburbs and the city, the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ of religion. Slowly, he gravitates to an inner-city pastor of a crumbling church that houses the homeless, and is stunned at how similar belief can be. As his own beloved cleric slowly lets go, Albom writes his final farewell, having learned that a faithful heart comes in many forms and places. Desiderata: A Teenager’s Journey to God by David Paul Eich ($29.90) Aimed at teenagers and young adults, this book uses the 15 mysteries of the Rosary as a means of understanding all the important Christian virtues and how to live them in our daily lives.
A Cry from Within Carol Seow-Lee shares a prayer experience.
recent experience has left me feeling affirmed that God knows exactly what we need at every moment of our lives. How it had been shown so clearly to me that the promise of God is in the very heartbeat of our lives. If we keep closely in touch with the spirit of God and be aware of his presence, knowing that He will take care of all areas of our lives, we are able to lead a calmer, less anxious life. Some weeks back my daughter needed to go for a fairly major dental surgery to have six teeth removed at one go and had to be administered general anaesthesia for that. To add to my concerns over GA, I was told that there were 2 teeth that were embedded and their roots were very close to the nerves which would pose some risks during the procedure. At that point of time, you could just imagine how daunting it was for me and I was paranoid with a capital ‘P’! The night before the procedure, I was at my wits’ end, not knowing how else to pray, what else to say, as I had made every prayer petition I could think of during the weeks before – asking that God guided the hand of the surgeon, anaesthetist, and everyone else involved. I had texted a few close friends to lift us up in prayer in search for comfort in them. When there seemed nothing else I could do, amid incessant ‘mind chatter’, I decided perhaps I should turn to reading something – the Bible, an online commentary, a book, whatever – to get my mind off it.
Now there were some spiritual books that had arrived through mail order just days ago, and I picked one up looking for some peace of mind. In “Secrets of the Vine” by Bruce Wilkinson, to my amazement, the first words that I read, though first seemed unlikely, yet brought me to the peace I was looking for. I clearly saw God’s promise in reading: “Abundance – You’ll be surprised to discover how much God wants abundance for you. And you’ll be relieved to know that you never need to misread His ways in your life again.”
Along with the inspiring and practical meditations of the Rosary mysteries, this book is filled with stories of saints and contemporary heroes that show how the lessons and virtues of the Rosary have been put into practice. Saints like Francis of Assisi, Joan of Arc, Kateri Tekakwitha, Maximilian Kolbe, and Bernadette Soubirous teach us through this book what it means to choose Christ everyday and follow him on our journey to God. Through real-life stories, old and new, Desiderata makes the Rosary – and the faith – come alive. This book will be a tremendous help to teenagers who want to draw closer to God. All featured books are available at Wellsprings Catholic Books or at the bookcart at the Piazza.
How amazing that I should immediately find my peace in those words, yet, I thought I should be looking for words like ‘peace’, ‘be not afraid’, ‘find comfort’ or ‘it’s the right thing to do’. Yet, “Abundance – … God wants abundance for you”, was all that I needed! He spoke and I understood. I felt a great burden lifted and just knew God has this promise for me, that everything would be alright and I will be blessed with life in abundance of all things from God. And all that comes from God is good. God had answered my cry, the prayer from deep within my heart have been answered. Truly amazing experience!
A day after the operation, I was looking to reflect on some materials for Catechism and chanced upon a video-blog by Terry Modica, writer & web-master of Good News Ministries’ website. She shared this quote from St Clement of Alexandria: “Prayer is a conversation with God. Even if we whisper, even if we do not open our mouth, a cry rises within us. And God never fails to hear this inner conversation.” I simply said, “AMEN!”
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Welcome to the St Mary’s family! Please pray for these newly baptised!
Mikaela Nisha Winterburg Cruz Atom Ramirez Janelle Christina Woo Yu Xuan Elise Elaine Lau Li Shan Ioannes Paulus Resultay Catiis Isaac Ethan Koh Weiren Jerome Joseph Sagaram Luke Isaac Yuan Ka Shing
• • • • • • • •
Matthew Axel Zachary Chua Paige Pascaline Chia Megan Sarah Jian Hong Salleh Gabriel Kwa Matriano Ianah Reisha Del Rosario Jonah Siew Kai Ren Cativo Sean Gabriel Santos Anna Riya Thomas
Thank you, Lord... “Thank You...” - we see and hear this so many times, but how often do we also say ‘thank you’ to
those around us and especially to God? If we sit down and think about the blessings we have been showered with, we should be filled with gratitude. Perhaps we should say to the Lord: “Dear Lord, thank you for everything you have given me: My beloved parents who care for me so much,
My wonderful family who share happiness with me, My lovely friends who share laughter with me,
My great teachers who teach me a lot of good things, My home sweet home where I feel peaceful and safe,
a rl i n a M ny Len
The nice foods which give me energy to do a lot of things,
The warm sunshine and cool rain which brighten up and freshen my days, The clean water which helps me to keep clean,
The beautiful music which makes my days more colourful, And many more…
Above all, Lord, I’m truly thankful for your unending love.”
LIVING THE WORD
Wise up with Solomon Decorate the word ‘Thank You’ with patterns. Each of its letters has a different pattern. An example has been done and it’s your turn to continue the rest!
“Listen, children, to a father’s instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight.” — 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Dear Lord, thank you for everything I have now and especially for who I am. Teach me to appreciate every single moment in my life and remember your goodness every day. Amen.
Pikes Peak T he beauty of Nature often takes my breath away. There is just something innately divine about Mother Nature that immediately grabs my attention. In particular, mountains are my personal favorite natural elements. Whether it is the snow-capped mountains of Queenstown, New Zealand or the magnificent array of mountains in Colorado Springs, USA, these majestic features of Mother Nature always incite a sense of awe and wonder to me.
This photo was recently, at the summit of Pikes Peak Mountain, Manito Springs, Colorado. The journey was very memorable. Ascending to the summit took more than an hour by a cogwheel train. Moreover, as the train gradually went up the mountain, the air gradually became thinner. Breathing – something that is so basic to our survival – suddenly became immensely difficult. Halfway through the journey, my head began to throb and my entire body became lethargic and weak. The lack of oxygen affected me badly. I began to wonder whether embarking on this trip was the right thing to do, whether I should have begun this journey in the first place. I began to second-guess my actions. Yet, all of my negative sentiments paled in comparison to the sight that I received at the summit of the mountain. Standing at the highest point of that mountain, I became overwhelmed by a sublime sense of beauty; I was struck by an indescribable sense of awe and wonder. Standing at the edge of the cliff allowed me to view this spectacular sight – an
By C h r is to p h e r C h o k
image of Mother Nature that I will never ever forget. Seeing wild gazelles running freely at an adjacent mountain and beholding the beautiful blue lagoons at another neighboring mountain, I felt fully alive. Right before my eyes was one of God’s many awesome creations. And at that moment, this bible verse came to my mind: There is one thing I ask of the Lord that I long for: all of my days with God to be dwelling, gazing with awe at the beauty of God, and in wonder look on God’s house. (Psalm 27:4) Similarly, my experience of journeying up Pikes Peak is analogous to my faith journey, my personal relationship with God. Having made a decision to live my life for Him, I began to realize that the route that I was going to take was not going to be easy. For example, I realised that I had to leave St Mary of the Angels – a community that I loved and served for more than half my life – in order to grow deeper in my faith. I had to be torn away from the comforts of familiarity so that I could experience God personally (and intimately) in a foreign land. Often times, I had known a lot about God, but I did not know God; I still had to form my own, intimate relationship with him. Yet, akin to the journey upwards towards Pikes Peak, the journey to North Carolina was not easy. There were moments when my heart throbbed and my soul weakened. The absence of my loved ones took a toll on me. There were cold and lonely days in which I wondered whether I made the right
decision; there were days in which I secondguessed my actions. Yet, it was precisely in those moments that I best experienced God’s healing touch; it was in those dark occasions that I realise that He was (and will always be) my pillar of light, strength and support. My conversion journey began approximately 10 months ago, a time when I started contributing monthly to Tomorrow, the Parish’s newspaper. Ten months later, I find myself connecting the dots, recollecting fond memories and being so grateful to God for this amazing journey. The time I spent overseas has been amazing and life changing. My perspectives of the world have widened, my relationships with my loved ones deepened and most importantly, the priorities of my life have shifted dramatically
– it has shifted towards God. My priority now is God. Having made the decision to live a life for God, I have begun to ascend my mountain of faith, my upward journey towards Him. However, God’s work is not atop some lofty mountain. God’s work is in our daily lives. Just as Moses descended from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments, I too was excited to head back down from Pikes Peak to share my beautiful experience with my family and friends. In a sense, our personal encounter with God – as we get to know Him better and as we realise just how much He loves us – should ultimately lead us back to His people and to serve His community. Faith after all, is personal but never private.
Broken for Us
By Fritz Ng
To many, it’s just a wafer. To others, it’s sacrilege. As for me, every Sunday night I drive out to sit in front of this unleavened bread for an hour to reflect, give thanks and offer supplications. Yes, I believe this piece of bread is my saviour, and my faith revolves around it. But at times, I do find it hard to believe. Maybe because transubstantiation sounds too unbelievable, or maybe it’s the morbid idea of eating God, or even a fellow human being. Or maybe what people find most unacceptable is that God would make Himself so vulnerable as to put Himself in a fragile wafer. Sometimes I wonder if our God is stupid… But I’m more for the idea that the foolishness of my God is above all worldly wisecracks and scepticism. My theory is: If you love someone, you’d want to spend as much time with them as possible. What more ingenious way than to make yourself edible, so that you can reside in the person, fill their hunger and longing, maybe even set their hearts on fire as you enter?
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