Social Mission Conference 2018

 

Thank you for your kind support! The Social Mission Conference (SMC) has since concluded.

Over 500 participants gathered in the Performing Arts Centre of Catholic Junior College on 21 July 2018 for an inspiring day of learning, reflection, commitment to action and prayer.

Themed ‘Whole of Me, All of Us, One in Christ’, this sixth Caritas Singapore Social Mission Conference (SMC) focused on how we as church can help support, direct our efforts and work for a more holistic and inclusive development of each person and all persons in our society. Within the Church’s social teachings, this approach is summarised in the concept of ‘Integral Human Development’, which is very much the focus of Pope Francis in recent years.

The day started with prayer and hymns, followed by a warm welcome by Ms Janet Ang, Chairman of Caritas Singapore. She gave an overview of Social Mission Conferences through the years, and the conference programme for the day. She rallied participants together as it takes an informed and passionate community to bring about social change on the ground towards making a better life for all.

 

In his opening address, our Archbishop William Goh encouraged all Catholics to work for greater alignment and collaboration with all partner organisations and the government, so as to better serve those in need. He shared how integral human development has to be understood in the perspective of a desire; a call. It is a vocation.

“Men’s hearts are restless until they rest in God. By hindering spiritual needs/growth, we deprive people of true happiness in life.” – Archbishop William Goh

He also mentioned the need for each of us to have a more authentic prayer life and to practice Laudato Si’ – care for creation with greater sincerity and commitment.

 

THROUGH THE EYES OF THE POOR

The morning continued with a presentation by Dr Ng Kok Hoe, Assistant Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. He shared on the issues of public rental housing in Singapore and the challenges faced by those staying in such flats. Many of them are trapped in the cycle of poverty and need a more concerted effort by the government and VWOs to help them out of this situation, so that they can better develop themselves.

Mr Jeremy Khoo, Chairman of the Caritas Singapore Advocacy and Research Committee presented the preliminary findings of the Caritas Singapore research project on youth issues and challenges. From the study, it is found that adult mentors provide a very strong support to helping youths at risk overcome their issues and challenges and develop more holistically.

 

THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION – ‘WHOLE OF ME, ALL OF US, ONE IN CHRIST’

The highlight of the conference was the sharing by His Eminence, Cardinal Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development. Conference participants enjoyed his frank and enlightening explanation of the church teachings explaining ‘Integral Human Development’ and his humble comments on recognising the human person in everyone and to do what we can to work for a more authentic development in our society.

“Development is part of our human vocation. … To say that human beings are persons, means that we are talking about relations. The human person that reaches out to be in relation with others. So we are created to co-exist. And in our co-existence, pursue the common good for all of us.” –  His Eminence, Cardinal Turkson

Pope John Paul II had shared that “true development cannot consist in the simple accumulation of wealth”.

Cardinal added, “Caritas in Veritate is this: Charity in Truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind authentic development.”

Cardinal Turkson also handled the various questions from participants with insightful pointers, suggestions and encouragement.

 

BREAKOUT SEGMENTS: ‘WHOLE OF ME’

After lunch, participants joined one of the 3 breakout track options.

Track 1 – Walking with You [Elderly]

Dr Wong Sweet Fun, Chief Transformation Officer, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital and Yishun Health, National Healthcare Group and Ms Jayne Leong, Lead Social Worker, GoodLife!@Yishun, Montfort Care both shared with participants their outreach efforts to the elderly, the needs of the elderly as well as the various initiatives, programmes and actions needed to help each elderly person continue to develop himself/herself. Our participants also enjoyed the interaction with 91-year-old Francis who shared his story of physical and mental transformation through the ‘Share-a-Pot’ programme and now has some muscles to flex even – when previously he could not get out of his wheelchair. Participants left the track with suggestions and the call to be part of these efforts or to build their community networks that could reach out to the elderly in their homes, neighbourhood and parishes.

 

Track 2 – Sharing the Journey #ShareJourney [Migrants]

Dr Tan Lai Yong, Resident Fellow, Director, Outreach and Community Engagement, College of Alice & Peter Tan, National University of Singapore and Mr Mark Goh, Chairman of the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ACMI) engaged participants with their insightful points of the challenges in our social norms, structures and the needed action by all to welcome and reach out to our migrant brothers and sisters in our midst. Through simple and engaging activities, participants were also sensitised and reminded of the need to treat migrants as persons and not just statistics in our society.  Participants are encouraged to work for structures that are more inclusive and provide opportunities for migrants to grow holistically too.

 

Track 3 – Holding Your Hand [Families]

Mr Roderick Theseira, Chairman of the Archdiocesan Commission for the Family and Mr Kelvin Poon, Chairman of the Morning Star Community Services talked about the need and importance of building unity with parishes, church communities and other partners in reaching out to vulnerable and troubled families in our parishes and neighbourhood. Our collaborative efforts could better help families address their needs and allow them to continually develop themselves more holistically. Participants were introduced to the range of services provided by these groups and encouraged to be part of these efforts to reach out to families in need.

‘ALL OF US’ PANEL SEGMENT

Four highly engaging speakers continued to inspire participants to reflect on the notion of inclusive development and what each of us could do to be part of the on-going efforts.

Mr Han Fook Kwang, Editor at Large, The Straits Times, Mr John Lim, Senior Director of Social Policy and Services group, Ministry of Social and Family Development, Ms Teo Jin Lee, Chairman, Agape Village Management Committee and Rev Fr David Garcia, The Order of Preachers, Dominican Order all took to the stage to engage participants in insightful reflection and called for action.

They shared on i) the need to have a more inclusive mindset (a new Singapore narrative) to see that all persons, regardless of ability, are important in our society, ii) the work of the government to ensure that there are safety-nets for all struggling persons and families without diminishing their self-motivation to improve, iii) the services and programmes of the first-ever Catholic one-stop service hub in Agape Village and iv) the role of the laity which requires us to practice the co-responsibility for the life of the Church and continue its mission in the development of our society. Participants are called to reflect on how each person can make a difference in our society and could be part of this collaborative effort to ensure a more holistic and inclusive development of all persons in our society.

At the closing address which also looked at “One in Christ”, Janet called on participants to kickstart authentic human development by continuing to reach out to the vulnerable among us, through workplaces, parishes and families. She asked, “Empowered by the presence of Christ in us, what can we do now to kickstart authentic development?”

She closed SMC 2018 by briefly sharing on the various post-conference programmes organised for participants to continue their development.

The day ended with a Eucharistic celebration by Cardinal Turkson.

This SMC 2018 also took the opportunity to provide participants with more information of the services of our member organisations as well as to showcase the on-going Campaign on ‘Share the Journey’.

The conference would not have been made possible without the many participants, volunteers, organising committee members, staff and board members of Caritas Singapore.

Here are the presentation decks from SMC 2018 that you can download for your further reflection:

Keynote Theological Reflection ‘Whole of Me, All of Us, One in Christ’
His Eminence, Peter Kodwo Appiah Cardinal Turkson, Prefect, Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development

Presentations from Breakout tracks

Track 1: Walking with You – Elderly
GoodLife! by Ms Jayne Leong, Lead Social Worker, GoodLife!@Yishun, Montfort Care

Share-a-Pot by Dr Wong Sweet Fun, Chief Transformation Officer, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital; Yishun Health, National Healthcare Group (NHG)

Track 2: Sharing the Journey #ShareJourney – Migrants
ACMI in four verbs: Welcome Protect Promote Integrate by Mr Mark Goh, Chairman, Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ACMI)

Hiring, hiding, healing – Foreign workers in SG by Dr Tan Lai Yong, Resident Fellow, Director, Outreach and Community Engagement, College of Alice & Peter Tan, National University of Singapore

Track 3: Holding your Hand – Families
Holding your Hand Mr Roderick Theseira, Chairman, Archdiocesan Commission for the Family

Presentations by the Panel

All of Us by Mr Han Fook Kwang, Editor-at-Large, The Straits Times

Building Singapore, Together by Mr John Lim, Senior Director of Social Policy and Services Group, Ministry of Social and Family Development

Agape Village by Ms Teo Jin Lee, Chairman of Agape Village Management Committee

Role of the Laity by Rev Fr David Garcia, OP, Dominican Order

Here are the videos of the presentations from SMC 2018 that you can view for your further reflection:

OPENING
1. Welcome Message by Ms Janet Ang
Ms Janet Ang is the Chairman of Caritas Singapore

2. Opening Address by Archbishop William Goh
Archbishop William Goh shared how integral human development has to be understood in the perspective of a desire; a call. It is a vocation.

KEYNOTE THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION ‘WHOLE OF ME, ALL OF US, ONE IN CHRIST’
3. Keynote Theological Reflection by Cardinal Turkson
“Development is part of our human vocation. … To say that human beings are persons, means that we are talking about relations. The human person that reaches out to be in relation with others. So we are created to co-exist. And in our co-existence, pursue the common good for all of us.”

4. Questions & Answers (Q&A) Session with Cardinal Turkson

ALL OF US
5. ‘All of Us’ by Mr Han Fook Kwang
Mr Han Fook Kwang is Editor at Large at The Straits Times

6. Agape Village by Ms Teo Jin Lee
Ms Teo Jin Lee is the Chairman of the Agape Village Management Committee

7. Role of the Laity by Rev Fr David Garcia, OP, Dominican Order
Fr David Garcia is from The Order of Preachers, the Dominican Order

8. ‘All of Us’ Panel Discussion

ONE IN CHRIST
9. ‘One in Christ’ by Ms Janet Ang
“Empowered by the presence of Christ in us, what can we do now to kickstart authentic development?”

To view the full SMC 2018 video playlist, click HERE.