Encountering God and Hope in the Workplace

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Joshua Chan (centre) in a group photo with his colleagues from the OFC. Photo: Joshua Chan.

Encountering God and Hope in the Workplace

The Gift of My Church (#TGOMC) is a series featuring how Catholics from all walks of life have been touched by God through their service or participation in the life of the Archdiocese of Singapore. In this issue, writer Carolyn Lim discovers how an undergraduate found hope during an internship at a Catholic organisation.

When undergraduate Joshua Chan, 24, struggled to find an internship during his third year at the National University of Singapore, he began to wonder if God was testing him. Discernment and prayer led him to consider an internship in a Catholic organisation, even though his peers were heading for roles with large corporations.

Joshua had found himself desiring something other than “meeting KPIs and making money”, he shared. So, when he learned of an internship offered by the Office for Catechesis (OFC) through a friend, he readily applied.

OFC, located at the Catholic Archdiocesan Education Centre at Highland Road, has 11 full-time and part-time staff. They are tasked with the training and formation of catechists, analysing the state of catechesis in the archdiocese, and developing strategies to strengthen faith formation.

They began offering internships to young people about six years ago. The internship gives young people an opportunity to go “behind the scenes” and experience how an archdiocesan organisation works.

A Catholic Workplace

Catechesis is not new to Joshua, who has been serving as a catechist at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (OLPS) since 2012.

But his experience interning at OFC between June and August this year proved to be an experience he had not expected. Throughout his internship, Joshua found himself being constantly reminded of how different it was to be in “a workplace where Christ could exist and in the people who worked there.”

Joshua received the opportunity to contribute to future plans for confirmation camps in various parishes, and managed other administrative and support work. Admittedly, some tasks he had to perform were mundane, but he found that doing such tasks seemed different when he did it for OFC.

Such a thought crossed his mind one day while laminating and cutting materials. “Even though I end up doing this sometimes, I actually find it rewarding because I know I am doing it for a greater purpose,” he shared.

He added, “It is very fulfilling to know that from the little you give, God can still work His miracles. I could do some really simple thing, but God would do so much more through someone else’s conversion.”

Joshua also had the chance to see the Church at work beyond the parish and was given the opportunity to go to different parishes to observe how things were done. “That really got me curious about the possibility of working for the Church in the future,” he said.

Archbishop William Goh speaking to the catechist during the Launch of the Catechetical Year event held at the beginning of every year. Photo: Office for Catechesis.

Finding Hope

On top of gaining new knowledge and new friends, Joshua felt his experience at OFC had also embodied the Gospel message that it is more blessed to give than to receive. He explained, “Honestly I was feeling quite lost when I was looking for an internship. I started thinking about life and I felt unsure of what to do anymore. But working at OFC has given me hope and direction again.”

Like many Catholics, Joshua gets discouraged at times by events unfolding around the Church. “I worry about what could happen to the Church in the future. But when I see what God does when I give my time for the Church, and when I see the passion of people who work for the Church and who share its vision, I see hope,” he said.

After benefiting from the internship, like others before him, Joshua now encourages fellow young Catholics to not be afraid in doing more for the faith. “If we do not take that step and give of our time, we would not even get to experience what it is like. God is in this place and the Church needs more who want to serve,” he said.