Friday, May 18, 2018

Timely to promote evangelisation and create a brand-new look for The Catholic News: An open proposal to Archbishop William Goh

“Character cannot be developed in peace and quiet.  Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

- Author Helen Keller -
By: Raymond Anthony Fernando

Given that Parish Priests have a heavy responsibility to serve the many needs of our parishioners, I welcome the decision for the Catholic News(CN) to come under the umbrella of the Archbishop’s Communication Office effective 1st July 2018.

CN is a useful platform for the 300,000 strong Catholics to understand the teachings of Christ as well as to get our brothers and sister in Christ to spread the love of God through the power of evangelism.

Jesus Christ is indeed good news and such good news needs to be told and retold.   As Catholics, we need to embrace evangelism and practice God’s love to everyone we meet.

Let’s spread the word of God through evangelism

There is no question that the world is filled with an appalling amount of evil and suffering.

Bitterness.  Anger.  Frustration.  Depression.  These are some of the emotions people who are going through suffering can display.

Many Christians who are plagued with chronic illnesses, financial difficulties, broken marriages or face mounting problems day in and day out have often asked the clergy these questions: “Why is God making me go through so much suffering?  I have done no wrong.  Why must bad things happen to good people?”

There is comfort in suffering because God can use our sufferings to teach us and make us better people.  Suffering can bring out the best in people, it can test their faith, and it can create the opportunity for them to grow spiritually, to change for the better, and to make a difference in the world.

Often it takes suffering to make us realise the brevity of life, and the importance of living for Christ.  God uses suffering to accomplish things in our lives that would otherwise never be achieved.

Even though we may be going through huge challenges in life or undergoing a great deal of suffering, we must always trust in God because He will always be there to lift us up – maybe not immediately, but in due course. 

This is why it is so important for the Neighbourhood Christian Communities (NCCS) to rally around the marginalised, the elderly lonely and the mentally ill and their caregivers.  NCCs play a vital role in uplifting those who are going through adversities.  NCCs too through supporting this group can also be in a position to evangelise by doing God’s work.

Although Christians appear to love evangelism, sadly, not many take it upon themselves to promote the scriptures from the Bible and God’s ever powerful love, as long as someone else is doing the evangelising.  To this end, it is imperative that as Catholics we need to start preaching the good news over and over again.  One way to do this is through the Catholic News where people – locals as well as foreigners can share their faith journeys.

I have always find it heart-warming to listen to the sermons by some of our Catholics Priests – among them, Father Ambrose Richards, Father Andrew Wong, Father Stephen Yim, Father Henry Siew and Father John Bosco Pereira – just to name a few.    As God’s shepherds, they can all certainly guide their ‘sheep’; encouraging them to become ‘Saints’.  

Less foreign articles, more local stories

I read CN every fortnight and have observed that more often than not, overseas articles get published. While such accounts are needed, CN needs to focus more on localised heartfelt stories, and perhaps give lay Catholics the opportunity to write local stories or opinion pieces, where youths and seniors can actively participate as contributors. If need be, pay them a token sum to encourage on-going participation to keep the publication very much alive. 

There are also many social issues facing Catholics here that includes breakdowns in marriages, addiction, family disputes and caregivers finding it a real struggle to care for loved ones with special needs.

As Christians, I fervently believe that we are called to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, to be a voice for the voiceless, the defenceless, and the most vulnerable in the society.

Government can also rally around all Singaporeans

Separately, it is encouraging that Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has assured Singaporeans that the 4th generation leaders will make every effort to reach out to all Singaporeans as reported in Channel NewsAsia today, Friday 18th May 2018 (“4G leaders to engage Singaporeans in series of discussions to chart future together: Heng Swee Keat”).

Mr Heng is indeed a compassionate and caring minister, no airs about him and he makes the effort to understand the needs of all our people. He displays magnanimity towards caregivers of the mentally and this I found to be so true during my short discussion with him during the 1st Singapore conversation.

Poignant stories of resilience need to be unfolded

Getting back to the proposed brand-new look for the Catholic News.

There are also in our midst, Catholics who despite carrying a heavy cross have overcome adversities to come out stronger than ever as they place their full trust in the Lord. Indeed, having a faith makes it much easier to carry a cross.  The more poignant the stories are, the more Catholics will embrace the love of God.

Thus, it is timely with a new team in place on 1st July to have a Catholic newspaper for Catholics, by Catholics. 


Raymond Anthony Fernando

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