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Catechists Told to Get the Signs Right

by Sulochini Anne Nair

Signs and symbols, which the Catholic Church is so rich in, must be understood clearly and interpreted correctly to be passed on to the young. Otherwise catechists risk getting the message garbled and the young risk getting it wrong and losing their faith. This was the thrust of the talks and sharing by Fr Gregory Chan at the 12-14 June Annual Outstation Retreat attended by 40 St Ignatius Church Sunday School Catechists and Administrative staff. The retreat at the Barre I J Centre in Cameron Highlands was themed Catechesis: Indispensable Ministry of the Church.  

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“As catechists do we punish or pretend we don’t see when something is not right, or do we try and understand Catholic signs and symbols (and teachings) so as to impart them correctly. Otherwise you risk causing misunderstandings,” Fr Gregory cautioned. For example, he said, priests come across all manner of posturing when members of the congregation come up to receive the Eucharist when the correct way is to say Amen before receiving the host. He told catechists that their lives too must be consistent and consummate with the Church. “Your lives must be a sign and symbol of the authentic (Catholic) life. Don’t become a counter-sign.”

Fr Gregory reminded us that catechesis means proclamation or reverberation of the faith to all and is not restricted to Sunday School, RCIA or RCIY – just as Jesus exhorted his disciples to go out into the world and proclaim the Good News. And catechesis is not new, he said, tracing its existence to the time of the Gospel writers. “We have to proclaim to the world and to do that we have to use the correct language of (inter-faith) dialogue.”

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This dialogue comprises four important elements: 1) LIFE – as in dialogue with one another; 2) ACTION  caring for one another, for instance, in a disaster; 3) THEOLOGICAL DISCOURSE – talking about the similarities rather than differences of faiths; and 4) DISCUSSION & FAITH SHARING – we need to understand that all religions have a reflection of the truth of God but the Catholic faith has the fullness of the truth because of the Incarnation when God chose to enter humanity. Due to the problems of Islamisation and proselytising especially of our youths, Fr Gregory went on to enlighten the participants with an introduction to the Quran, saying nowhere in the Quran are Christians described as non-believers. On the other hand, they are accepted as people of The Book.

Fr Gregory also touched on demonology and shared his experiences in the Deliverance Ministry he was placed in charge of as a priest in Seremban. He urged catechists to be alert against games invoking demons that our children are being exposed to especially via the Internet. He said those who invite the spirits consciously are willingly asking the devil to take control of them. “The presence of evil is very real. Demons work for the systematic destruction of the Church.”

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Earlier, he explained the timeline of Salvation History right up to the Gospels. Participants also had the opportunity to watch two documentaries: Miracles of the Eucharist and Nine Days That Changed the World on Pope St John Paul II’s historic pilgrimage to Poland in June 1979 where he moved the Polish people to reclaim their courage and free themselves from communism. Besides being an educational two days with Fr Gregory patiently answering the many questions he was asked, participants (half of whom were youths) also bonded together over meals and the bus rides up and down the hill while refreshing themselves for their ministry work ahead. 

 

Corpus Christi 2015

In a departure from previous years, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi or The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ was celebrated at St Ignatius Church (SIC) on 6 & 7 June 2015 with the theme Jesus – the Way, the Truth and the Life. The programme on Saturday 6 June started at 8 pm with Exposition & Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, Gospel reading and homily in both English and Mandarin by SIC Parish Priest Fr Lucas Ng. A video on Miracles of the Eucharist was screened followed by recitation of two decades of the rosary (Joyful & Luminuous Mysteries) interspersed by a praise & worship session.

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Parishioners learnt from the video that the miracles in Bolsena and Orvieto in Italy brought about the Feast of Corpus Christi and the famous hymns O Salutaris and Tantum Ergo penned by St Thomas Aquinas. After a coffee break, the programme resumed with a video titled Miracle of the Eucharist at Macerata, a Chaplet to Jesus  the Way, the Truth and the Life, praise & worship, and ended with Benediction at midnight.

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The programme for the following morning of Sunday 7 June included activities to create greater awareness and respect for this most precious gift of our Lord to all humanity. Well before the official starting time of 9 am, the cafeteria was already busy with parishioners being served free food and drinks  nasi lemak, fried beehoon, roti anai and fried kuay teow. Activities organised were an art exhibition contest, video screenings on miracles of the Eucharist, exhibition & quiz on vestments and sacred vessels used during Mass, a Gospel hunt & Sudoku puzzle contest, and story-telling for pre-schoolers.

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Click on Corpus Christi for more photos.

 

Rosary at the Grotto 2015

Some may call it perfect timing whilst others say it is divine providence. Nevertheless, this year's Rosary at the Grotto in St Ignatius Church (SIC) ended with the procession entering the church building just as a few drops of rain started to fall. The timing is especially crucial as this is a period with intermittent heavy rainfall in the afternoons and evenings. Some 500 parishioners took part in the event on 31 May 2015. 

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Starting at 5 pm, a statue of Our Lady decorated with flowers was carried by six SIC youths starting from within the church to the first station near the Grotto. Altogether the statue was carried around the church compound by representatives from BECs (Basic Ecclesial Communities) and ministries from the English- and Mandarin-speaking communities to five locations – each relating to the five decades of the rosary.   

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At each location, all present recited a decade of the Glorious Mystery in English, Mandarin, Bahasa and Tamil and sang hymns in honour of our Blessed Mother. SIC Parish Priest Fr Lucas Ng, SIC Assistant Parish Priest Fr Andrew Wong, Fr Philip Tan (Provincial, CDD priests in Malaysia) and Fr Francis Ng CDD also joined in the procession which signals the end of the month of May which is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. This year's event was organised by BECCOT (BEC Coordinating Team). BECs taking part include St Emmanuel, St Alphonsus Liguori, SS4 combined and Kayu Ara, as well as representatives from the Legion of Mary.  

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Click on Grotto for more photos.

Photography: John Ari Ragai

 

Pentecost @ SIC

Pentecost is one of the great celebrations of the Catholic Church although it is not as well known as Easter or Christmas. The word Pentecost comes from the Greek word Pentekostos which means fifty. Pentecost Sunday – the 50th day after Easter Sunday – marks the close of the Easter season. On 24 May 2015, Catholics celebrated with joy this wonderful day when Christ filled the Church with the power of his Spirit and sent it out into the world to bring his peace, joy and forgiveness to all peoples. 

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At St Ignatius Church (SIC), the Feast of Pentecost was celebrated with a Novena to the Holy Spirit from 15-21 May & 23 May, and a Pentecost Rally on 22 May which included praise & worship, novena, silent adoration, benediction and Mass.  SIC Sunday School celebrated this feast which is regarded as the birthday of the Church in a visual manner. Pupils of Standard 1 St Paul wore flame headbands – created by their catechist Ivy Wong – to illustrate the descent of the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire on the disciples of Christ.

 

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A week before Pentecost Sunday, His Grace Archbishop Julian Leow presided over his first Mass to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation at St Ignatius Church (SIC). During the Mass which started at 6 pm, Archbishop Julian and SIC Parish Priest Fr Lucas Ng conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation on 93 Catholic youths witnessed by godparents, family, friends and fellow CatholicsIn his homily, Archbishop Julian reminded confirmands that they are fully adults after having completed the sacraments of initiation. As soldiers of Christ, they were advised to deepen their faith and be ready to face a world which is hostile to followers of Christ. SIC Assistant Parish Priest Fr Andrew Wong and Fr Francis Ng CDD were the concelebrants at the Mass.

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Seventy-one students from the English Sunday school and 22 students from the Mandarin Sunday school were anointed with the Oil of Chrism to signify receiving the seal of the Holy Spirit which marks their total belonging to Christ and their enrollment in his service for ever. With Confirmation – the completion of Baptism – the baptised are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed. In addition to bread and wine, confirmands offered up their talents and gifts for which they have been blessed with, and faith experiences encountered through Sunday School lessons, Renewal in the Spirit Seminar, service projects, Confirmation Camp and other activities.

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One of the last to leave the church building was Charlene Alexis Teresa Andante Cacas who was busy taking photos with her parents, sister and aunt. Asked for her feelings on being confirmed, Charlene could only utter one word: Happy! It is most appropriate that she should feel this way as Joy is one of the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit. Apart from Joy, we hope that all confirmands will be blessed with other fruits such as Charity, Chastity, Faithfulness, Generosity, Goodness, Kindness, Love, Modesty, Patience, Peace & Self-control.

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Click on Confirmation for more photos.

Photography: John Ragai, Daniel Khong & Matthew Soo

 

SIC Welcomes 71 New Catholics

The night of Easter Vigil is – by a most ancient tradition – dedicated to the Lord and commemorates the night Christ rose from the dead. On this night of nights, the universal Church celebrates the sacraments of Christian initiation with great excitement and joy unbounded. Thirty-four elects of the 2014/15 Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) were fully incorporated into the community of believers at the Easter Vigil Mass held at St Ignatius Church (SIC) on 4 Apr. Accompanied by their godparents and witnessed by family members and friends seated amongst an overflowing congregation, they were baptised by SIC Parish Priest Fr Lucas Ng and Assistant Parish Priest Fr Andrew Wong.

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The newly-baptised (joined by another five candidates for confirmation) also received the Sacrament of Confirmation so that they are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed. As new members of Christ and his Church, they then received the Sacrament of Sacraments – Holy Communion which is the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus.

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Newly-baptised Francis Alvis Phang Seng Keat shared that he is semangat (Bahasa for inspired) after Mass. A friendly and easy-going person, Francis believed in the existence of God since he was a young boy but it is at the year-long RCIA that he learnt about the person of Jesus who is God incarnate. His RCIA journey which began on 17 June 2014 has been a period of discovery and bonding as he has made many friends. Another big day is looming as in coming November, Francis will partake in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony with wife-to-be Jacqueline who is also a Catholic. First-time godfather Christopher Ng revealed that he will encourage Francis to attend the upcoming A Quick Journey Through the Bible to deepen his faith and have a better idea of the story of salvation. 

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We hope our new Catholics will be mindful of Jesus’ assurance in the Gospel of John 10:10 I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. All the graces and opportunities that a person need to grow spiritually can be found in Christ and his Church. It is extremely important that all Catholics whether new or matured continue to be nourished by the Word of God and partake of the sacraments – especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation. Another important aspect is to realise that the Church is appropriately called a ‘hospital for sinners’ where its faithful are healed and continuous conversion takes place. 

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Our new Catholics have just stepped into the Church to begin a life-long journey of faith. Perhaps three simple words can help them along in their journey  to Know, Love and Serve God. Their RCIA lessons and sharings have helped with Knowing but there is much else to learn such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Bible to know God's will, the saints in heaven who are our role models in faith, and so forth. Knowing more about the deeds and sacrifice of Jesus will lead to a greater Love for God. Serving can be nurtured by integrating into the life of the parish through participation in ministries and BECs. We are called to serve not just within the church but also in hospitals, homes for the aged & handicapped, slums and any place where we can bring hope and change in the name of Christ.  

The Vigil Mass ended with a resounding rendition of Regina Caeli (Queen of Heaven) by the congregation led by Fr Lucas. Christ the Lord has truly risen, alleluia! At the Easter Vigil Mass in Mandarin which started at 6.30 pm, 27 elects were baptised and five candidates were confirmed together with the elects. SIC wish all Catholics a Blessed Easter!

BAPTISM
Abigail Netasha Nagarajan
Isabelle Finilia Tee Sze Ying
Abigale Kalai Arasi
Isabelle Tan Pei Err
Adriann Gee Fook Khuan
Janet Joan Chin Chui Nyong
Anne Christy Resti Eka Pradewi
Jenny Anne Wong At Ping
Anne Kelly Sang Soeun Kolyan
Joseph Looi Art Yew
Anthony Gwee Kok Ming
Kelvin Chan Weng Hoong
Arvind Anthony Emmanuel Bharat
Kelvin Emmanuel Lam Yat Kam
Catherine Cindy Yeow Hui Lian
Maximillian Lim Jun Seng
Celine Ooi Tze Ling
Natalie Vinoshini Ganesan
Charmaine Lee Yoke Fong
Ram Michael Emmanuel
Daniel Valentine Schani Bharat
Richard Kon Boon Thiam
Elisha Lili-Andreas Anak Jika
Simon Joseph Toh Cheng Hock
Elizabeth Amelda Priangka
Vincent Ng Wee Sen
Eric Tan Chee Leong
Vivienne Tan Lye Cheng
Esther Emmanuel
Yvette Angelene Teh Hui Ing
Eunice Ooi Shi Ying
Zane Winston See Chun Chiang
Francis Alvis Phang Seng Keat
Zeno Ong Boon Yew
CONFIRMATION
Dorothy Choo Shau Wen
Philip Adrian Oradiegwu
Natasha Leslie Photina
Sofia Allana Baba
Yvonne Marciana Melati Idang

Click on RCIA for more information on our programme to prepare adults for baptism into the Catholic Church. And on Baptism for more photos.

Photography: John Ari Ragai & Daniel Khong

 

Easter Triduum @ SIC

The Easter Triduum – according to Pope Francis – is the apex of our liturgical year and it is also the apex of our lives as Christians. Akin to agreeing collectively with the Holy Father, the bilingual Maundy Thursday Mass on 2 Apr at SIC which began at 8 pm was well-attended with every seat filled whether inside or outside the church building. This Mass of the Lord's Supper inaugurates the Easter Triduum and commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with his Apostles. Twelve Communion Ministers – six each from the English- & Mandarin-speaking community – had their feet washed by main celebrant SIC Parish Priest Fr Lucas Ng and Assistant Parish Priest Fr Andrew Wong to illustrate the service & love of Christ who came not to be served but to serve. Fr Philip Tan (Provincial, CDD priests in Malaysia), Fr Francis Ng CDD, Fr Stephen Ng CDD and Fr Luc (visiting Redemptorist priest from Vietnam) were the concelebrants. 

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Shortly after the end of holy communion, Fr Lucas and his fellow priests led the procession to transfer the Most Blessed Sacrament from the tabernacle to the Altar of Repose on the first floor of Costantini Community Centre.This year's Altar of Repose received an overwhelming response especially in the first half an hour after the Blessed Sacrament was deposited. There was a constant stream of parishioners from both SIC and neighbouring churches who gather together to meditate, contemplate and keep vigil till midnight. The Altar of Repose was set up by members of the Liturgy Ministry together with other volunteers.

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A Way of the Cross around the church compound was held on Good Friday on 3 April starting from 1 pm. Cross bearers included representatives from BECCOT and various ministries from the English (10 stations) & Mandarin (4 stations) groups. Despite the hot and dry weather, more than 500 parishioners were able to experience and meditate upon the last stage of the journey that Our Lord walked in his earthly life. Fr Lucas was the celebrant for the Mass that followed which started at 1.45 pm. Apart from the Liturgy of the Word, the Good Friday celebration of the Lord’s Passion also include Veneration of the Cross and distribution of Holy Communion.

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Photography: John Ragai

Click on Easter Triduum for more photos.

 
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