Sunday, February 1, 2015

Priests, NCCs and Catholic ministries need to reach out to vulnerable Catholics: An open letter to Archbishop William Goh

1st Feb 2015

Your Grace Archbishop William Goh,

I am in full support of Andrew Tan’s suggestion to transfer our priests every five years (“Rotate priests regularly”: The Catholic News January 25, 2015). 

By rotating priests to decrement churches, it helps them to get to know more Catholics with the community and helps to build a better bond with the 300,000 Catholics here.

There are many needy Catholics and the priests and their various ministries within each church must be accessible, although regrettably this is not always the case. Generally most of our priests are kind and compassionate, but there are a handful who adopt a ‘talk-down attitude’ as opposed to a “talk-to attitude”.

His Holiness, Pope Francis in his message for the 2015 World Day of the Sick has urged people to demonstrate compassion that does not judge those who suffer from serious illness. His Holiness invited people to see the world and those who are ill or in need of care with, what he calls – “the wisdom of the heart”, which is pure, peaceable, gentle , open to reason, merciful, certain and sincere.   I am uplifted to know that Catholics have a leader who is full of compassion.

With a fast ageing population coming on-stream here in Singapore, it is prudent to heed the advice of Pope Francis.  Are all churches and priests adhering to the advice of His Holiness?

I was delighted when the Parish Mission was introduced to Christ The King Church last year.

The objectives of the Parish Mission are:

● To renew the faith in our Catholic community

● To create a sense of belonging in our parish

● To strengthen our Neighbourhood Christian Communities (NCCSs)

During the sharing of the Parish Mission, the Redemptorists priests stressed the importance of the NCCs reaching out to help the needy.  But sadly, with my wife’s passing, all forms of support measures died with her.

Now that the Parish Mission has made it way to Church of The Holy Spirit, parishioners attending mass every weekend are asked to recite the Parish Mission statement. 

When I came down with viral fever in early January and was out of commission for 3 solid weeks, I had to struggle to get my meals because I was feeling very giddy and weak and could not get help with cleaning my flat. You, Archbishop Goh are aware of this and although you have directed the Catholic Welfare Services to assist, they are ‘dragging their feet’ in providing me with the much-needed support. CLARITY, a mental health VWO did not step forward to help.  This was the very VWO which I advocated for.  

In the end, it was a Christian centre– from a non-Catholic organization Bethesda C.A. R. E and three friends on my facebook – also non-Catholics who empathised with plight and stepped forward with cleaning services and brought me meals.  They know that with the untimely death of my wife, self-care is so important – more so when I am trying for 10 months to cope with grief.
So let us not have a big song and dance over the Parish Mission when the objectives are not being met.  It is not right to turn your back on anyone who needs support.

The NCCs are not there just to organise recreational activities and outings, but they, in collaboration with the priests, must improve on its outreach to our marginalised Catholics. More so when we have a fast ageing population coming on-stream.

Raymond Anthony Fernando

Singapore 560601

No comments: