Archbishop Goh to all involved in Social Mission Work: “As you serve, call others to join you”

Archbishop William Goh celebrating Caritas Singapore’s annual Mass at Agape Village. (Photo: Catholic Life Singapore)

Archbishop William Goh urges all involved in social mission work to inspire and encourage others to join them in their service, reminding them that the deed of charity is absolutely vital to the proclamation of the Gospel and that this mission cannot be carried out without works of mercy.

Caritas Singapore, the social mission arm of the Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, held its annual Mass and appreciation lunch on 14 January 2017 at Agape Village.

Celebrants Archbishop William Goh, Friar John-Paul Tan, OFM, Fr Matthew Tan, SJ and Fr Christopher Soh, SJ, led 186 participants from various fields of social work in the spirit-filled celebration, of which 65 of them were volunteers, 58 were representatives of Caritas’ member organisations and 17 were from other social services, along with board members and staff.

In his homily, Archbishop Goh expressed that it is essential for those involved in social work to be actively involved with their beneficiaries and those in their care, to truly understand their struggles and limitations. “It is so important for us, for people who are in this ministry of service in all its forms, to be out there. When we begin to listen to their woes, we begin to understand. That is why no one will judge. When you understand people, you never judge “.

Left: Volunteer, Johnathan Wong providing the music and accompaniment at the Mass. Right: Board members, staff and volunteers of Caritas and its member organizations. (Photo: Catholic Life Singapore)

Archbishop Goh also encouraged the congregation to look to the example of Jesus as a model of inclusiveness in their social ministry. “Jesus was sitting among the tax collectors. Why? Because, he went there to give hope. He told the Scribes and the Pharisees that it is not the healthy that needs a doctor”.

He urged  “so as you serve, call others to join you. That is what we are called to do. You [would] notice that the apostles started calling the others to follow Jesus. And so as the shepherd, I call you to call others.”

The Archbishop also expressed his gratitude to those involved in social mission work for their commitment and service, “Thank you for bringing hope to humanity, giving life to others and to give them encouragement, because this is what our ministry is all about.”

Caritas Singapore Chairman, Janet Ang, delivers her address (Photo: Catholic Life Singapore)

During the Mass, Caritas Chairman Janet Ang shared some of the organisation’s principles, key events and achievements in the past year.

“The values and principles of Caritas is based on knowing and living the Catholic Social Teachings and we do not do this just out of humanitarian compassion, like Archbishop William Goh always reminds us, but because we believe that our Christian faith calls each of us to reflect Christ in service and to bring God’s merciful love to our neighbour. The hungry, the naked, the disadvantaged, the lonely, those in prison and those rejected by society, empowering hopeful people to live dignified lives,” she said.

Janet shared Caritas Singapore’s achievement in being among the first recipients of the inaugural Charity Transparency Awards  in 2016.

In August 2016, Caritas Singapore held its fifth social mission conference themed “Witness to Mercy, Bearer of Compassion” at Catholic Junior College. Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, president of Caritas Internationalis and Archbishop William Goh joined 600 participants to “gather, dialogue and to encourage one another in the work of doing good and accompanying our brothers and sisters who are disadvantaged.” Janet also noted that this was the first time that Caritas Singapore had included a pre-conference volunteer experience with Caritas member organizations. Unprecedented also, was the ‘Caritas Young Adults Day – Mission of Mercy Event presided by Cardinal Tagle after the social mission conference.

Agape Village, located at Lorong 8, Toa Payoh, commemorated its first anniversary in November 2016. Janet attributed the funding of operating expenses of both the integrated social service hub and Caritas member organizations, to the support and generosity of donors, despite a challenging year for the economy in Singapore.

Janet welcomed Mount Alvernia Hospital to the Caritas Singapore family, after becoming its 25th member organization in 2016. The Mount Alvernia outreach medical and dental clinic was recently set up on the second level of Agape Village to serve low-income families. She indicated that all member organizations could refer their beneficiaries to seek medical and dental care there.

The ‘Share-A-Pot’ programme was conceived in 2016 in collaboration with Khoo Teck Phuat Hospital as part of a community-based outreach programme for vulnerable elders.

Janet also shared that through the introduction of the Catholic Lawyers Guild’s bi-monthly pro bono consultation and mediation services at Agape Village, more than 220 clients who could not have afforded a lawyer otherwise, were helped.

She informed that as part of the celebrations for the re-dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, the evening Mass at 5.30pm on Sunday, February 19, 2017 at the Cathedral will be dedicated to the Social Mission of the Church.

She expressed her gratitude to those involved in the work of Caritas and its member organizations, “2016 has indeed been a Year of Mercy and I would like to thank all who have supported. Many of the volunteers, sponsors and donors who have given your time, expertise, prayers and generous donations, big or small.

“Though now that the jubilee year has ended and the holy doors of the Cathedrals and churches are closed, I hope that the doors of our hearts will remain open to the mercy of God and to his call for us to be witnesses of mercy and to be bearers of compassion in our neighbourhoods and churches, schools, workplaces and wherever we are”, Janet concluded.

Before the concluding prayers, the congregation recited together a community prayer for the Social Mission of the Church, to recommit themselves as a family towards building a civilization of love.

The congregation reciting together a community prayer for the Social Mission of the Church.  (Photo: Catholic Life Singapore)

After the Mass, Archbishop Goh and co-celebrants joined Janet and the participants for a buffet lunch.

Mary John, 47, a caseworker with Family Life Society (FLS) for two years, shared that she has found fulfillment in her line of social work, journeying with those in need of support during their pregnancy crises, listening to their challenges and in providing after-care services in aid of their recovery.

Family Life Society Caseworker Mary John (second from left) with volunteers from Pregnancy Crisis Services (from left to right) Nancy Lim, Anna Luke, and Maureen Sng. (Photo by Johnathan Johnson)

“Being with them, they feel that they are not alone in this process and that they do have support.

“In that sense, it has been very fulfilling and I’m grateful to this ministry and I thank God for that,” she shared.

Fr John-Paul Tan, OFM, shared that youth approaching their confirmation can be introduced and educated towards the Gospel-oriented social mission of the church through a programme conducted on the weekends at Agape Village, with the support of the various parishes. He is hopeful that the youth may even see possibilities for them to be involved in this work after confirmation.

“The social teachings is helpful at this point of their journey as Disciples of Christ, and hopefully post-confirmation, they can look at the opportunities to serve among the (25) member organizations,” he shared.

More photos on the event are available at this link

Related Event: Cathedral Dedication Celebration
Sunday, February 19, 2017: Dedicated to the Social Mission of the Church.
5.30 pm: Social Mission Mass presided by Archbishop William Goh, in collaboration with Archdiocese Social Mission Organisations.

For more information, please see our event listing at : http://www.caritas-singapore.org/event/come-celebrate-with-our-mother-church-on-the-19-february-2017/