MICA (P) 043/07/2011
Parish Assembly 2012
Rev Fr Damian’s Easter Message Dear brothers and sisters in Christ “Alleluia. Our Lord has risen and He reigns for all eternity.” Wishing all of you and your families a very blessed and meaningful Easter, filled with the love, joy and peace of our Risen Lord. This Easter, as we begin a new life in Christ, it is also a new beginning for me, my new ministry and my mission here at Holy Family. It was here where it all began in my home parish; the very parish I was baptized and grew up in. It is great to be back! As I recall the many years I served in this parish as an altar server, little did I realize that God was already grooming me to be His priest to shepherd His people. It is good to know that not only have the altar servers grown in numbers but almost all the organizations and ministries have grown a great deal both in terms of new members and in their faith and commitment. From a small community of believers, we have increased in numbers by God’s grace. I hope and I pray that with the grace that comes from our Risen Lord, we will progress from being One Family and One Church to continuing the One Mission of Jesus, in the footsteps of our patron, the Holy Family of Nazareth. With God all things are possible. Together with God on our side, let us journey hand in hand, fulfilling our Mission of bringing Christ to others and others to Christ. Shalom
Fr Damian De Wind
Learning to adapt and adjust in any environment How can I improve my presence to God and to others during mass?
“One Church, One Mission” – Parish Assembly 2012 How I live Christ’s mission in our NCCs The Call
History and Destiny Quiz
My journey of faith Going to Church on Sundays is simply not enough! RCIA and beyond... Appreciating Christ’s presence in my daily life
10 Mandarin Section 柬埔寨义工之旅 11 YOUhf
East District Youth Lenten Vigil Family - God’s gift to mankind Testify to Love
Eucharist Celebration at Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Haikou
Mission Sunday Project 2011: “One Church, One Family – Beyond Boundaries”
Cover pix: Photographer – Kevin Ho We thank Ronnie Khoo for the Family Camp pictures on pages 10-11 in the January 2012 edition of The Connection. – Editor
Learning to Adapt & Adjust in Any Environment Mark Chew I attended the Marriage Preparation Course along with my wife back in 2006. During that weekend, love was in the air! There were at least thirty couples who wished to strengthen their relationship to an even deeper level. We were surrounded by people who were “deeply in love” with their spouses. Most importantly, we all wanted to know how God could help us build a strong matrimonial partnership. Fast forward to 2012 where I am attending a month-long intensive military reservist course as a dutiful citizen soldier to prepare me and fifty other officers to hold higher appointments in the military. Even as I write this article, we have already been exposed to a week of intense leadership strategies - learning how to appreciate the finer skills of military strategies and leadership management. And the atmosphere that of a tightly knit fraternity of leaders - we literally breathed, ate and slept ‘leadership’!
We are Shaped by our ‘Environment’
When we are placed in any ‘controlled’ situation, the prevailing environment and culture can mould us to something that we are typically not used to. God has given us unique abilities to adapt and adjust for learning to take place. In the first example, my wife and I were placed in a very ‘loving’ environment. We had to adapt to the ‘sweet yet sickening’ loving atmosphere. Through the influences and sharing with other couples, we learnt the meaning of ‘life-giving’ and the different viewpoints of each partner. Learning how to be a better spouse would have been impossible via an online program. In the second example, my constant interaction with regular military officers and other like-minded reservist officers provided a breeding ground for positive learning and shared leadership strategies. Anyone can learn to be a better leader when placed in this ‘leadership’ environment.
The ‘Real’ Environment
However we are not required to adapt and adjust and shape our internal beliefs and values to suit any environment. The ‘real world’ is not controlled. External influences can lead us astray. We therefore need to hold fast to our Christian values, even in the face of changing societal norms. St Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians teaches us to “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” (1 Thess 5:21). We are able to discern what is good only when we have God with us. We need constant reminders. We need to constantly yoke ourselves to a Christian environment. And more importantly, we need constantly application of these reminders. There is a Chinese saying, “It takes three years to learn positive empowering behavior, and only three days to learn a bad habit.” This is because once we complete these courses and workshops, we go back to the ‘real world’. Most people revert to the mundane redundancies of life. Couples forget the lessons learnt and start quarrelling over trivial matters. Leaders adopt a tunnel vision, forget about Inclusivity and the Law of Buy-In and simply overlook their subordinates and peers. The true challenge is to constantly apply our learning in the ‘real world’. We need to constantly remind ourselves why we do what we do, lest we forget. We need to perform the little gestures and actions that attracted our spouse to us in the first place. We need to reach out to our team members more often. We need to pray and seek His guidance. We need to set aside time for God. Learning to adapt and adjust in this world, according to our Christian values is not easy. We should work hard to create a Christlike environment by praying and seeking His guidance.
Mark Chew is the founder and principal strategist of Giants Learning Technologies. He specializes in Personal Mastery and Leadership. He is also the author of "Discover Your Leadership Style". You may contact him at http://chewmark.com/ and www.facebook.com/Discoveryourleadershipstyle.
How Can I Improve My Presence to God and to Others During Mass? When I heard this question, I asked myself - am I even worthy to be in His presence. After all, I am but just one person in the whole world, in a small country, in a small church, in a little pew - insignificant compared to the billions of people in the world. Although I am a cradle Catholic and after years attending Catechism classes, I was really glad when it was all over. There were so many activities that I hadn’t tried which looked exciting compared to church rituals. Doubts about the relevancy of Christ and real life started to grow. Other goals became a bigger priority in my life and I started to drift away from God. From being a Sunday Catholic, I eventually left the church. To those around me who witnessed my shifting priorities, I became a bad example of the faith. Yet how great and merciful our Lord is! When I finally came back to church hungry and thirsty for God, looking for answers, directions and rest, He was quick to respond to my pleas and even gave me more than I asked for.
I have always felt the strong presence of Christ in church, not just because Christ is present in the tabernacle, but the peace, tranquility and the communion of God’s people helps fill the Holy Spirit within me. Unfortunately, this was not always the case. After a rough week, taking time off to rush to church, it took some time before I could settle down to be ready to spend personal time with God. Responding in the precise order of mass and saying “And with your spirit” could be difficult and superficial and mechanical when that wasn’t exactly how I was feeling on a given day. Yet it is through these rituals that we show our love and care for each other and renew our commitment to imitate Christ in remembrance of His passion for us. Yes Lord. I will try my best to follow your example and do unto others all that you have done unto me!
Parish Assembly 2012 In his message for World Mission Day 2012 which will be celebrated on 21st October 2012, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI reiterated that faith in God is above all a gift and mystery to be received in the heart and in life and for which we must always be grateful to the Lord. It is the most important gift that is given to us to be shared; it is a talent received so that it will bear fruit; it is a light that must not be kept hidden, but must illumine the whole house.
The Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) adopted ‘One Church, One Mission’ as its theme for this year’s annual Parish Assembly (PA) held at the Tanah Merah Country Club on 11th March 2012. The two hundred parishioners who attended the event were encouraged to reflect on the theme and to consider what they must do to become true disciples of Christ. In his opening address, Fr. Patrick Goh reflected that the 2012 PA serves as a timely reminder that we are One Church, One Family serving One Mission. We are on a lifelong uphill journey called the Kingdom of God where we need to constantly remind ourselves of three essential requirements set aside time for the Kingdom of God; be committed to our Mission; use our God-given talents and gifts for the Mission. This PA is therefore a “stock-take” to see where we are today on our lifelong journey.
for Missionary Activity of Singapore was given out to all attendees which seeks to answer the questions “What is Mission?”, “Why should I know about Mission?” and “How do we do Mission?” amongst others. The emphasis is on care for the spirit as the most important goal of Mission and that missionaries bring hope for salvation and foster world unity. After various sharing on the challenges faced in living their Mission in their daily lives (see box), parishioners were asked to reflect on the following two questions: “What have I done / What am I doing to answer Christ’s call?” and “How do I live out my mission in my ministry, my home, family, work place, school etc?” prior to the Q&A session. Fr. Patrick Goh concluded by reminding parishioners that this Assembly is only the beginning of the process of being missionaries and that we need to begin with ourselves and our families and then we need to reflect what else we can do to build the Kingdom of God. If each of us is working on the same mission and we can feel a sense of brotherhood, then we have already achieved something at the end of the PA.
Fr. Damien reminded parishioners that we are all called to Mission by virtue of our baptism and that Mission is a vital part of Church life. He drew the assembly’s attention to the Church’s Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church promulgated at Vatican Council II. A booklet titled “We are Mark Ortega is a member of the PPC Exco 2011-13 all called to Mission” printed by the Archdiocesan Commission and has been a catechist for 6 years.
NCC is a never-ending journey of many as we accompany one another and as we remember that God is and must always be with us on our journey.
How I live Christ’s Mission in our NCCs After my Baptism in 2005, I struggled very hard for two years trying to know God. My eagerness and curiosity led me to many uphill paths. One day, as I was reading the scripture, I did not understand these words, “Yet do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice instead that your names are written in heaven” (Lk 10:20).
Helence Lim Chairperson Exco 2011-13
received a call from them that they did attend Christmas Mass on Christmas Eve.
Then in March 2008, one of our NCC members was diagnosed with cancer and needed help to take him to Singapore General Hospital for chemotherapy. I did not know what prompted me to render assistance instantly. While I continued to help for the next four weeks, I began to worry why did I volunteer for this work. But NOW I realize this was part of my Mission within our NCC. And I no longer hesitate to reach out every time someone needs help.
Last week, I responded to a call from an NCC friend to give Holy Communion to a lady suffering from third stage liver cancer but was not from our Parish. I said “Yes” immediately as I remembered my Baptismal commitment. Her eyes glowed when she saw me and she said “Now I believe God loves me and He will not abandon me….. He sent you to give me His body.” Faith, Communion and Service is to live my daily life in the image and likeness of Christ by action and not by word or lip service.
The fruits of living in communion with one another and loving your neighbour are experienced by NCC members who spontaneously come forward for wake prayers at very short notice. This willingness and joy to serve one another are now part and parcel of living my Christian life. Three days before Christmas last year, I brought Communion to an Ah Ma in my NCC. The family requested that I also give Holy Communion to their two helpers on my next visit. I politely advised that they be allowed them to attend Mass at our parish as a Christmas gift. In fact both did not have a single day off since their arrival. Imagine my joy when I
My mission is to continue the work of Jesus Christ, to make His name known and loved and to bring hope to those in darkness. Every time I complete my mission, my heart seems lighter and my aches subside and I thank God for every breath that I have. I now understand the passage of Luke Ch 10:20 better. And I never ask for any reward for the work I have done. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Mt 6:19-20)
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At tim my family ities and even di e in that ministr e time and with the support of rtain other activ ce in ed continue to serv lv th d vo in fin mewhere, I sh and I was then somehow so her pastoral needs in the pari ot e to see many of th hen I greet or church family w e th of and the Exco. rt pa a e or ne smiles in receive e I feel so much m r than I am - or when someo w t n. a ai pl th ex g e m in t iv this family, For it is in gis much, I have received so much. Letaught - tiny at one time now talle ity. I feel part of ssible. un m m co is th of In giving just th rs or by children whom I have considered part to assist where po l signs of being a responsibility he al , ve ot lp ha by I he d d to te an d ee ke k, gr as am ve been am as rs have a right to alizing that I ha or even when I he re t ot s, en at ce m th an dg el st le fe um ow ly etical ackn rong lt circ ce. 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If I do not tr m inistry and to th fa m y y m m d in an , f ch el ur ch ayer life for mys Our missionmission is to continue to serve in thcsean velop a deeper pr de d on as a father. y si m ba at e ck to th iled in my missi I know th fa ba ve go ha to ld ed ou ne w I I e that e future live their faith, well but I realiz rish - they are th tegral ols with which to pa to r e ou th in n re h ut ild yo ch give my they are an in the children and feel wanted - that ission to build a em ust reach out to th m e e w ak m at t th us ve m our m . We I strongly belie e Parish mission Not doing so, would be to fail in ld require us adults th in e at ip ic rt and actively pa a role to play. e them fully wou and our parish. munity and have gage and involv m en co to is r k place th de of or rt In pa our homes, wor of faith. in ity on un si m is m m r co e ou strong inclusiv r them by living t an example fo se to s nt re pa d an
History and Destiny
Bible Apostolate Team
Salvation history takes us to a new chapter as the leadership of the people of Israel is passed on to Joshua with the death of Moses. The Book of Joshua opens a new section of the Scripture, often called the “Historical Books” comprising Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 and 2 Kings which form a continuous history of Israel from the entry into the Promised land under Joshua to the Babylonian exile. Modern English translations include 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith and Esther, 1 and 2 Maccabbees.
“7 For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills, 8 a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey….. ..10 And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.” (Deuteronomy 8:7-8, 10 ) The Book of Joshua describes the miraculous conquest of the land promised by Yahweh to Moses under Joshua’s leadership (Ch 2-12) and how Joshua divided the land among the tribes (Ch 13-22). The conquest victories came from God as Joshua and the tribes always dedicated their military victories as a sacrifice to God in thanksgiving for his aid. Israel always understood the land to be a gift from Yahweh - sacred, blessed and made fruitful - but it was always a temptation to forget Yahweh and follow the pagan deities like Baal during prosperous times. The land, a sacred responsibility of stewardship under Yahweh, was the land of the covenant hence possession of the land and obedience to Yahweh’s covenant went hand in hand. But from the moment Israel entered the land, it was a story of greed and progressive betrayal of Yahweh who was the owner of the earth and the gift giver.
The term “Judges” does not mean administrators of justice, but ‘governors’, the people’s war leaders and deliverers, who are divinely chosen and possess grace or ‘charisma’. The major judges are Othniel, Ehud, Deborah and Barak, Gideon, Jephthah and Samson. There is a recurring pattern in the story - the Israelites betray Yahweh, he hands them over to their enemies, they plead with him, he sends a Saviour – the Judge. Once the deliverance has been effected, there is an interval of peace, after which the Israelites relapse again. Here the Israelites learnt that oppression is the punishment for impiety and that victory is one of the consequences of returning to God.
In the short book of Ruth, we read the story of the Moabites who after the death of her husband married his relation. Of this marriage, Obed was born who was to be a grandfather of David. The purpose of this book is to show how trust in God is rewarded and how God’s goodness is not constricted by frontiers. The two Books of Samuel and the two Books of Kings trace the last days of the period of the judges and the first days of Israel as a monarchy. The strong government provided by the kings was at the expense of every Israelite’s jealously guarded rights which were rooted in the covenant with Yahweh. Hence the religious meaning of kingship had to be worked out so as to preserve the more basic belief that Israel was a people subject to one king only, Yahweh himself.
1 AND 2 SAMUEL
The Books of Samuel cover a period from the rise of the monarchy to the end of the reign of David. Philistine expansion threatened the very existence of Israel and made monarchical government a necessity. The Second Book summarised the consequences of David which were far-reaching. The Philistines were repelled for good which made possible the unification of the northern and southern territories and Jerusalem became the political and religious capital of the kingdom. The sacred ark was brought into the city with great rejoicing. These two Books reveal the conditions under which the kingdom of God might be expected to function here on earth and the difficulties it would experience. The ideal was achieved only in David’s time. After him, the sins of his successors thwarted it, calling down God’s judgement and procuring the ruin of the nation. The promises made to the House of David, from the prophecy of Nathan onwards, sustained and nourished the messianic hope. “Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever… And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.” (2 Sam 7:11-13, 15-16)
1. The place where David was anointed King of Israel by Samuel. 2. David was _____ years old when he began to reign over Judah. 3. The Lord sent Prophet _________ when David committed adultery with the wife of Uri’ah the Hitite. 4. This son of Jonathan, crippled in his feet, was given a permanent place at King David’s royal table. 5. This former King of Israel tried to kill David out of envy. 6. Solomon began to build the temple on Mount ______________ where Abraham had offered Isaac. 7. It took Solomon _______________ years to build the temple. 8. _______________ supplied Solomon with all the timber of cedar and cypress for the temple. Look out for the answers which will be published in our next edition.....
1 AND 2 KINGS
THE REIGN OF SOLOMON READING The two Books of Kings are a continuation of the Books of Samuel. The lengthy account of CONQUEST the reign of Solomon in 1 Kings 3-11 gives a detailed account of his legendary wisdom, his AND JUDGES riches, and the magnificence of his buildings, in particular the Temple of Jerusalem which Josh 1-24 became the focal point of Israel’s religious life. It was Israel’s Age of Glory - an age of Judg 1-21 conservation, organisation and significantly of exploitation. 1 Sam 1-8 Solomon, with his thousand wives and concubines, violated the law of Moses allowing interROYAL KINGDOM marriage among foreign peoples. He built temples for the gods of his foreign wives and even 1 Sam 9-31 performed rites for pagan gods like Astarte and Milcom. He encouraged religious practises that 2 Sam 1-24 opposed the worship of Yahweh as the only God in Israel and adopted so many pagan practises 1 Kings 1-11 of ritual and decoration for the temple that he neglected the simple and severe demands of Yahweh’s faith that centred on the covenant and the people as a community. DIVIDED KINGDOM 11 “Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, "Since this has been your mind and you have not 1Kings 12-22 kept my covenant and my statutes which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the 2 Kings 1-16 kingdom from you and will give it to your servant."( 1 Kings 11:11 ) EXILE THE KINGDOM IS DIVIDED 2 Kings 17-25; With the death of Solomon in 931, the Kingdom split into two - a northern kingdom which called itself Israel with ten tribes and a southern one called Judah with two tribes, Judah and Benjamin, RETURN still loyal to the house of David. The kingdom went into decline. Jeroboam,who became king in Ezra 1-10 the Northern Kingdom built the golden calves in Dan and Bethel, encouraged the people to turn Neh 1-13 away from Yahweh and worshipped idols. A long succession of kings, a total of nine dynasties MACCABEEN followed Jeroboam and not one of the kings tore down the altars or destroyed the calves. REVOLT In the Southern Kingdom, Rehoboam ruled from Jerusalem, fortified Judah and Benjamin, 1 Macc 1-16 made them strong and walked in the ways of David. Unfortunately, once the kingdom was well established, Rehoboam and the people forsook God’s laws and turned to other gods, setting up sacred stones and Asherah poles on the high places and engaged in cult prostitution. When Hezekiah became king, he removed the high places that were dedicated to Baal and cut down the Asherah poles. His son Manasseh undid all the good of Hezekiah by restoring idol worship and built pagan altars in the Temple, practised child sacrifice and sorcery. His sins angered God to the point of declaring an end to the kingdom. 11 "Because Manas'seh king of Judah has committed these abominations,.. Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such evil that the ears of every one who hears of it will tingle. 13 ..and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, 15 because they have done what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger,.. (2 Kings 21:10, 13-15). DEPORTATION The first deportation of the Northern Kingdom took place in 722 BC (2 Kings 17) when King Hoshea stopped paying tribute to Assyria. Samaria was captured and the King was imprisoned. It represented divine judgement on Israel for rejecting God and for breaking the covenant. Idol worship, divination and sorcery revealed a profound lack of appreciation of the very basic fundamentals of who God is and His relationship with creation and humanity. King Josiah began his reforming efforts in 622 to put an end to idolatry by removing all pagan shrines and cult objects from the land and to restore the worship of Yahweh alone (2 Kings Ch 22). He gathered the people together and made them renew the covenant and promise to obey all its divine laws. The Second Book of Kings remembered him as the greatest king ever in Judah and Israel after David (2 Kings 23:25) however his political decisions were disastrous and he died in a hopeless battle against the Egyptian army. BABYLONIAN EXILE In 587, under King Nebuchadnezzar, the final deportation took place with the sacking of Jerusalem. Zedekiah, after seeing his sons killed before his eyes, was blinded, bound in shackles and taken off into exile in Babylon. Under the terms of the covenant, Israel’s welfare depended on her obedience and as they sinned, their kingdom was wracked with violence and political upheaval. Many of the kings were assassinated by their usurpers suggesting a violent, tumultuous unstable time. In the end, they had been so stubbornly unfaithful to God that exile seemed inevitable. The Books of Kings must be read as a story of salvation. The ingratitude of the chosen people and the successive ruin of the nation seemed to thwart God’s design. A small body of faithful people remained who had not ‘bowed the knees to Baal’ – this remnant of Zion loyal to the covenant guaranteed the future. That God’s design could not be frustrated was shown by the astonishing persistence of the Davidic dynasty to which the messianic promise had been made. In the depths of Israel’s darkest days of the exile, the Prophet Jeremiah announced that a remnant will return to Israel and find rest. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring forth for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land…17 "For thus says the LORD: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel,” The promise is as certain as God’s covenant with His people. God will have compassion on his people.
GOING TO CHURCH ON SUNDAYS IS SIMPLY NOT ENOUGH! Elsie Tan The Neighbourhood Christian Community (NCC) has helped deepen the way I worship in many ways. I have been actively involved with the Joo Chiat NCC for many years where we always start every meeting with “The seven-step gospel” which has helped me tremendously change the way I read the scripture. When I first started reading the Bible, I didn’t know where to start. I started reading the New Testament as if I was reading a story book. It was enjoyable and I looked forward to my reading session. However, with the Old Testament, it became a challenge and I often avoided reading it. Now with the 7-step gospel, I start with a prayer and I ask the Lord to guide me and to open up the ‘word’ to me. I have learnt not to rush. I pick up the words or verses that have touched or affected me. I ponder and reflect on all the events of that day either with my family or at work. When I recall how nasty I have been to others, I feel terribly ashamed of what I have done! I then pray and ask the Lord to heal me and hand over my hurt to him rather than expecting others to make me feel better. If I do need to complain, at least it will be for the Lord’s ears!! There are many times when I feel that God does not hear my prayer and that God is not listening, but He does - He cares and He will respond. It’s through reading the Bible that I am often reminded that we can take comfort in knowing that our God is deeply concerned when our hearts are troubled: “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth” (Ps 145:18). When we call out to Him, we will never get a disinterested response!! This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles (Ps 34:6) At mass, I have learnt to pick up a word or two or a verse during the homily. I always ask myself before I leave church as to what I have learnt that day; what touched me the most. There were days when I was physically in church, but miles away, distracted by the many things that clouded my mind. I eagerly look forward to the meetings to hear the sharing of my fellow brothers and sisters. That’s when I am touched by their strong faith and this has motivated me to want to do more and I look for ways to grow in my spiritual life and needs. I now realize the drawbacks of living my life in a shell which only revolved around my family and work life. Yes. Going to church on Sundays is simply not
My Journey of Faith Teresa Khoo Laguna Park/Lagoon View NCC God is great, gracious and merciful, full of compassion and love. I would like to share my journey of faith even though I am a cradle Catholic and for quite some time have not been a very prayerful person although I have never missed mass on all Days of Obligation, unless I am on a trip out of Singapore. It was a few years ago when I suddenly realized I could not remember the remaining lines while saying my prayers. I asked myself, “Is there anything wrong with me? What has happened? Oh dear, where do I go from here?” To overcome my forgetful tendencies, I bought a mini-prayer book to help me through the prayers. Every time, I heard my Christian friends say “Fellowship”, I kept pondering on the meaning of this word. Then one day, I was invited to their “fellowships”. I then realized it is actually Bible reading and discussions. As I had never held a Bible before, I did not know how to find the correct page when asked to turn to a certain chapter and I could not “catch anything”. I prayed and waited for someone to call me to a Catholic Bible sharing session. It was one and a half years ago as I was helping my neighbour at the funeral wake of her mother that a prayer group from Holy Family Church came to say prayers. I recognized some of them from my estate. One of them said, “Teresa just one phone call – do come over”, but I forgot to ask “where”. Then one gentleman sprang up from his seat, sat next to me and holding his mobile phone said, “Your number please”. Soon after, I got a message inviting me to join their Bible sharing session at Lagoon View. Wah! I was glad and I thought, “What a golden opportunity.” As I attended their weekly sessions in different homes, I could feel the tremendous warmth in the group – their friendliness and caring. I felt so welcomed – it touched my heart. And on a few occasions, words just tumbled out “I love you all, you are all so warm and caring.” I began to find the Bible sharing really enlightening, very enriching and nourishing.
As I listened more to the “word of God” and the sharing, I begin to understand better the meaning of “His word”. The inspiration that I should do more as a Catholic guided by my renewed and strengthened faith led me to pray more daily and to seek God’s guidance and His forgiveness as I went about my daily chores. I now attend mass more frequently and try to be at the church early so that I can have those quiet moments with HIM and to get more time to pray not just for myself but for those who have requested me to pray for them and for all those in need of my prayers. Now I am more keen and enjoy going to Church for Feast Day celebration, Devotion Services and Healing sessions. enough!
This is a sea change from my earlier lazy ways where I would only attend Sunday mass. It has made a world of difference to me as I realize that GOD gives me guidance and is abundant in HIS mercies. I praise and thank GOD for all the graces HE has bestowed on me. It’s a more meaningful, joyful and fulfilling Catholic life for me now.
RCIA and beyond.. Mary Jeannette Hadi Mary Jeannette Hadi joined RCIA at Holy Family Church in 2010 but had to leave for Bangkok where she managed to continue her journey and was baptized last year. In this article, she shares her reasons for joining the RCIA, how she overcame the challenges along the way and finally what it means to be a Catholic.
What prompted me to join RCIA I have always studied in Catholic/Christian schools and I remember the peace I always felt whenever I attended mass or went to the chapel near my school. When I moved overseas for studies and work, I yearned for that kind of peace so I went back to church following in the footsteps of my Catholic boyfriend and I felt that same peace once again. I concluded this is the peace I want for the rest of my life and I decided to join the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). Challenges I faced during my journey The biggest challenge was ‘time’ as I worked in industries - advertising and later on pastry - which demanded the most irregular working hours from employees. Keeping up with the RCIA lessons every week was a huge challenge for me. I would usually request my ex-bosses for an off-day on Wednesdays or the option to work shorter hours. Though my requests were not always granted, it was better than not having asked at all. I also faced difficulties finding a RCIA when I moved to Bangkok as there were only two Englishspeaking churches - the Assumption Cathedral and the Holy Redeemer Church. I didn't want language to be a barrier to deepen my faith hence chose not to join the Assumption Cathedral as classes were conducted in dual languages. When I contacted the Holy Redeemer Church, I was told that there was no such class which was very devastating as I was just three months away from Easter. I then contacted folks back at Holy Family Church and through Helence, was introduced to Father George, a priest from Africa, who was indeed conducting the RCIA at Holy Redeemer Church! In Bangkok, the classes were held very casually inside Father's office unlike Singapore. I felt more relaxed and comfortable in sharing my opinions and questions because of the smaller number of people – just six or seven in my class.
Appreciating Christ’s presence in my daily life, especially in my family Raymond and Helen Ang share three incidents when they experienced the power and grace of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
While returning from my lunch break on 5th Sept 2011, I bumped into a friend who works across the road at Saint Andrew’s Cathedral. We chatted for quite some time near the tall palm trees. I suddenly became aware of a cool breeze blowing past us and we moved a step or two towards the building. As we continued our conversation, we suddenly heard a loud thud followed by someone screaming. We were shocked to see an entire branch fall at the same spot where we were standing a while ago. My second experience was two years ago when my eldest step brother Kai Lam (KL) was ill at Changi East Hospital. I am the eleventh of thirteen siblings and had not seen him for twenty five years. KL appeared in a terrible state with shrunken face, dry hair, eyes barely open and mouth full of black matter. I sensed an instinctive state of death and hopelessness. Without hesitation, my wife, Helen, started chatting with KL, his wife and daughter while simultaneously cleaning his face, neck and hands. By the time we took leave, I saw a sparkle in his response and I sensed hope. My wife and my elder sister visited him practically everyday to give encouragement, to chat and to show how much we loved and cared for him so much so that he eagerly looked forward to their visits. Another sister, Kin Hwee, and her husband, who are Methodists also prayed over him during their regular visits. After some months, I heard the good news that KL was to move over to St Andrew Community Hospital, across the road, to rebuild his muscular strength. And three months later, he was happy to be discharged and be back home. His wife was so grateful on his rebirth that she dropped by at Holy Family Church to give thanks even though she is not a Catholic. The third experience was when I became aware of my filial and social responsibility that it was not right to meet my elder brothers and sisters either at the hospital or at the wake given that KL was already a septuagenarian. I suggested to one of my brothers who had deep pockets to pick up the tab for the Ang family reunion dinner during Chinese New Year along with their grown-up children, their spouses and grandchildren. We had our second reunion lunch in January 2012 and I look forward to many more to follow in the years to come. Raymond and Helen Ang
Life as a baptized Catholic My life is so much more at peace because I feel closer to God, especially when I attend mass and receive the Eucharist. I also had the wonderful opportunity to visit St. Peter's Basilica in Rome where I could literally feel how real the Catholic faith is - this definitely helped elevate my faith. It has been one beautiful journey although it is not easy to 'carry the cross' especially in the materialistic and consumerist society we all live in today. Many people would laugh to hear that we sleep early on Saturday night so as to wake up early to go to church on Sunday while some are quick to label us as 'hypocrites' when they see our religious accessories. But the experience I've had with God throughout my entire life is worth much more than these. Being baptized as a Catholic has definitely strengthened my view of life and love.
East District Youth Lenten Vigil Andrew Lin Youth Coordinator
The overnight event from 16th to 17th March 2012 conceptualized by our very own Fr. Damian De Wind, Spiritual Director for the East District Youth, aimed to help the seventy youth from six East District parishes encounter Christ through a "live" biblical experience. We began with an enactment of the Passover Seder Meal in the Function Room, to present parallels with Jesus’ Last Supper and the Eucharist, where everyone was intrigued by the various rites and ingredients. We then walked to East Coast Park led by the facilitators, who portrayed Moses leading them out of Egypt and subsequently Jesus with them at the Garden of Gethsemane. We were then challenged to a time of personal prayer, just as the disciples were challenged by Jesus to “stay
awake and pray”. By 4 a.m., we moved into a prayerful time with the Stations and Veneration of the Cross and Rosary. The vigil ended with all of us holding candles and dipping our feet in the sea-water as werenewed our Baptismal Promises as one community. We then had breakfast of bread and fish (two huge salmon!) with Jesus at the “Sea of Tiberias”. For me personally, it was a beautiful experience – a time to bond with friends, listen to each other’s struggles during the sharing sessions, reflect on Jesus’ Passion, Death and Resurrection and experience the powerful symbolism of water and fire in the sacraments of our Baptism and Confirmation. I am also personally grateful for the support of many adults who helped with all the logistics and food preparation, without whom the experience wouldn’t have been so beautiful. God had graciously blessed us with wonderful weather throughout the whole event and it was the perfect ending as the sun slowly rose on the tired but happy faces around.
In spite of numerous rehearsals for the skit on the disciples’ scattering after Jesus’ arrest and Peter’s denial of Jesus, it was worth all the effort when I received many positive affirmations. I loved the outdoor vigil as it gave a cosy, chill out feeling that all the youth love. I enjoyed listening to the faith journeys of other youths through the sharing which was really enriching and strengthened my faith in Christ. I also loved how we were able to renew our baptismal vows in the sea which deepened my awareness of the baptismal promises that I do not really recall. I strongly recommend all youths in Holy Family to join the upcoming youth events organized by YOUhf and the East District youths. God bless you all. Gerardus Rino, 16
FAMILY - God’s Gift to Mankind When I think of God, I think of love and hope which reminds me of my favourite Gospel phrase - "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." (1 John 4:8). An active prayer life helps us to experience Christ in our daily lives. Through prayer, we appreciate He is there for us perpetually, to confide in, to draw strength from and simply just to share with. When God created man, he created them - male and female - in his own image. He created us to co-exist, to live together in communities, beginning from the family which is the basic building block and fundamental to life. God knows and understands that no one can exist and function alone and so gave us our family - to hold us when we fall, to provide us with someone who understands us when no one does and to lend us support whenever required.
Being away for a good couple of years, I have understood and learnt to appreciate the importance of family - just how much love can be shared even through simple acts of having a meal together; by being appreciative; by learning to say simple words of gratitude. Most mundane chores can be done without qualms for the love of Christ. Little acts such as getting a cup of water for a sibling who is studying hard for the exams show our love, care and concern for others. And I am thankful to God for an extremely loving and understanding family - for always standing by me and with one another through thick and thin. God gives meaning to our lives, to all that we do and often so, we find Christ in our own families, our communities, our workplaces - everywhere. Praise God!
HolyFam teenagers share their experiences at the “Testify to Love” youth rally on 18th Feb 2012 based on Pope Benedict XVI’s theme for World Communications Day – “Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization” organized by participants of the School of Witness program (SOW) - a six-week live-in retreat for potential youth leaders in the 17-30 age group.
Testify to Love The various testimonies showed how life’s gifts and struggles were intertwined and how God always graces us with what we need to deal with every difficulty. I now believe that there is no problem too big that God cannot handle. You can be transformed even in the worst situation and inspire others. What struck me was a fellow brother/sister’s own personal expression of his/her trials - on the common adversities in life. More importantly, they were not afraid to show us how God had touched their lives. We then heard life-changing testimonies of how their lives were transformed by Christ through SOW. I could identify with those life struggles as a youth: examinations, a loved one’s illness, hardened hearts, and coping with the negativity of the world. During the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the priest emphasized the importance of listening in silence and receiving God’s healing in His divine presence. In his World Communications Day homily, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI reflected “Silence brings forth inner power, mission, and compels us to evangelize”. We too are called to be silent and open our hearts to the word of God. In a video titled “Who Are You?” we were reminded that in our pursuit of self-identity, we should discern if that is the voice of God or someone else. Since we belong to God, we can approach Him in freedom and confidence, for we are made righteous through Him as we are one with Him. Only when we are filled with love, would we desire to share our love with everyone, by evangelizing. Finally their faith-driven dance to “Testify to Love” by Avalon was all about them unreservedly expressing their new found joy for the Lord which radiated through their smiles.
My key takeaways from the rally... Take off those masks: Very often, we wear our masks when we are with our parents or friends. In our struggle to find our identity, it is so easy to succumb to worldly desires. We were called to remember that we are sons and daughters of God and we are God’s masterpieces for “God created man in his own image”. (Gen 1:27)
Spread love: Sadly, our pride holds us back due to our pride and we do not give ourselves completely to each other. There was one testimony that made me reflect my lifestyle deeply, “Where am I finding happiness in my life - In my relationship with God or in material desires?” The clear answer to me was that God was the only one who can satisfy us and provide us with eternal happiness. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt 6:33)
Testifying to love, faith through deeds and sharing our love with others surpasses everything. I could see God’s fingerprints on the participants and I knew this retreat truly touched them by God’s grace! Danica Lim, 18 I would say that I have absolutely no regrets going for the youth rally at CJC although I was a little reluctant as none of my friends seemed to be interested. Then one day, some school friends came up to me and asked if I wanted to join them. Something inside just nudged me and I thought, why not? I’ve never been to a youth rally before so I thought of just tagging along. And the youth rally really surpassed all my expectations. All the sharing really touched me and it gave me the opportunity to reflect a lot about my life that night. Being in Sec 4, I have been so caught up with school and activities that I just live everyday not really knowing which direction I am going. During adoration, I got some time to just sit down, pause, calm myself down and ask God, “What am I actually doing?” The praise and worship session was also really enjoyable. We usually feel shy to sing praises to God in front of our friends, but at the youth rally, the Holy Spirit kindled this strong desire in me and my friends to really go out in our praises to God. This rally is one of those times where I actually felt the presence of God and the Holy Spirit. Anabelle Lam, 16 The rally was a unique experience unlike any other I have ever attended. I could relate most to the skit on “masks” where one puts on a different personality with different people, which I am guilty of. The highlight was when the SOWers prayed with us for our intentions and gave advice to those facing problems in life. I truly felt the Holy Spirit was amongst us that night, touching all present in one way or another and I certainly look forward to other Youth rallies in the future. Julian Stewart, 16 I love attending youth rallies because of the Praise and Worship songs and the chance to listen to amazing sharing and testimonies and this rally was no different. I especially liked the Confession and Prayer Ministry segments when I rested in the Spirit. It was quite amazing as the last time I experienced this gift from God was a year ago. All in all, I would really like to invite all youth in Holy Family Church to attend a youth rally if they have a chance! Gerardus Rino, 16
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