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Briefing on Lenten Campaign 2020



St Ignatius Church (SIC) played host to this year’s Archdiocesan Office for Human Development (AOHD) Lenten Campaign briefing which was held on Saturday 1 February 2020. The briefing, which was given by AOHD Director Fr Bernard Arputhasamy SJ, began at 9 am after registration and a hearty breakfast.

Vision & Mission of the Campaign

After the opening prayer, Fr Bernard began by linking the three important practices of Lent – Prayer, Fasting & Almsgiving – to Jesus. He reminded us how Jesus prayed and fasted for 40 days in the desert to create a space where he could encounter God the Father. After the 40 days, Jesus began his ministry by healing and driving out demons which was how he gave his self-sacrificial love to the people. This is the call to almsgiving as we too must reach out to others with the love of the Lord.

As his followers, we are all called to imitate Jesus and also create a ‘space’ through prayer and fasting so that we can encounter the Lord. It is from that encounter with Jesus that Conversion, Renewal and Transformation take place. It begins with the individual but must extend to families and entire communities. The Church is called to live out the Vision and Mission of the 2020 Lenten Campaign which are:-

Vision: A Catholic community that actively cooperates to build the Kingdom of God.

Mission: To promote the active and conscientious observance of Lent.


Role of AOHD in Campaign

Lent always has to have two dimensions: The personal and the social. If Lent is to be practised solely as a personal journey, Jesus would have remained in the desert but he did not. Every year, the Lenten Campaign programme, founded on Catholic Social Teachings, is organised and conducted by AOHD. Fr Bernard expressed his gratitude to the many Catholics who have generously donated to Lenten campaigns year after year, as the money has enabled AOHD to run a number of pivotal projects for the needy as follows:

i) Urban Poor & Women Ministry

ii) Migrants-Refugees Ministry

iii) Special Needs Learning Centre (Early Intervention) & Vocational Training Centre

iv) Welcome Community Home - Shelter for Men with HIV/AIDS (closed in 2019)

v) Episcopal Commission for Creation Justice

vi) Orang Asli Ministry & Prison Ministry & Mental Health (AMHM)

Themes for 2018-2020 Campaign

The main theme of the Lenten Campaign for three years (2018 to 2020) is ‘Caring For Our Common Home’. In 2018, the theme ‘Towards Ecological Conversion’ focused on creating awareness that our actions have dire consequences for the Earth. 2019’s theme ‘Encounter Christ & Serve as Stewards’ called for the faithful to be moved to even greater mindfulness so that we change our outlooks and habits. This year, 2020, the theme, “Stewards Protecting Creation” emphasises the urgent need to act. The Action Focus is ‘Living the Gospel of Creation’ which means to address the most pressing and critical concerns of our times. Catholics are called to have the courage to re-assess issues and respond to current needs sincerely. Conversion must be a continual process and has to be deep-rooted for the change to endure.


Key aspect of the 2020 Campaign theme: Caring for all of Creation is our Vocation:

We can no longer say that ecological concerns have nothing to do with our faith. At Creation “The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and guard it.” (Genesis 2:15). This verse has falsely been interpreted as allowing for Man’s ‘Dominion’ over the Earth when it should be properly understood as ‘Responsible Stewardship’. The verse clearly indicates that the concept of sustainability is not a new one. When we become aware and understand this Vocation, we change our values, choices, habits and behaviour.

The Gospel reference for the theme is Matthew 25:14-30 (Parable of the Talents). Jesus teaches about the importance of using the gifts that God has given us for the Kingdom of Heaven (responsible stewardship). Probing questions to ponder are ‘Do we recognise them as gifts’ or ‘Do we feel we are entitled to them?’

Responsible stewardship has three important principles namely Ownership, Responsibility and Accountability. The principle of ownership recognises that God ‘owns’ everything, creation is gift to us and we are administrators acting on His behalf. The principle of responsibility is that we are responsible for how we treat God’s Creation and what we do with it. The principle of accountability means that stewards must give an account of how they have managed what God has given them (lesson in the Parable of the Talents).


Suggested Activities & Helpful Resources

Fr Bernard shared the seven mindful steps of Living the Gospel of Creation (The Action Focus) and suggested activities for catechism, BECs and parishes. Some of these were in the printed 2020 Lenten Campaign booklet that was distributed to all the participants but Fr Bernard also referred us to online links to materials, power point slides, action sheets, posters, stickers and kits which can be downloaded and used by all. He emphasised the importance of adapting the materials according to the intended audience i.e. Sunday School children, BEC members etc. or even creating resources.

Feedback Session and Closing

There was a feedback session during which Dr Dionysius Sharma shared about programmes held by the Church of the Divine Mercy in line with Laudato Si. Other participants also shared about activities and best green practices at their parishes. Fr Bernard ended the session with a prayer and expressed his hope that the participants would share the message of the 2020 Lenten Campaign with their parishes and groups. This Lent, may we all “Hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (Laudato Si 49) and remember Pope Francis’ burning question: “What kind of world do we want to leave for our children?”

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