A Labour of Love

Ervin TanFeature

Joycelyn (front row, second from right) with fellow Floral Ministry members and the flower arrangements they prepared for SVDP Feast Day. Photo: Joycelyn Tay

A Labour of Love

Joycelyn Tay, a homemaker and coordinator of the Floral Ministry at the Church of St Vincent de Paul, shares how she learnt about the faith and found a desire and means to give back.

My parents were freethinkers, although they were educated in mission schools. Nevertheless, they picked up many Christian values and practices, which they shared with me. As a family, we would even attend Christmas Mass each year. So my exposure to the faith started at an early age.

Joining the family of God

However, it was only later in life, in 2003, that my husband and I discerned and decided to attend the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) together. We sought out the parishes near our home as our three children were aged 1, 3 and 5 then, and it would have been too difficult to attend RCIA at a parish that was too far away. Unfortunately, we learnt that RCIA had already begun in those parishes, and they were not accepting new registrations. Persevering through the discouragement, we saw an RCIA banner hanging outside the Church of St Vincent de Paul railings. We entered the church with hope in our hearts. We met the RCIA coordinator, who listened thoughtfully and arranged for us to meet Fr Michael Sitaram, the parish priest. He sympathised with our situation and organised a “Home RCIA” for us. During the times we were required to be in church, RCIA volunteers would happily babysit for us. Indeed, the dedication and love showed truly moved me. The selfless service I witnessed paved the way for our baptism as a family a year later. We have been joyfully living out our faith since.

From being served to serving

In 2012, I learnt that the Floral Ministry needed help. I had some relevant experience as I occasionally helped at a friend’s flower shop and enjoyed flower arrangements. With my children older and more independent by then, I had more time on my hands. It was my turn to answer the call to serve. It was a lesson in patience and humility, learning the ropes one step at a time. I started by helping to clean up after each session. I was then introduced to “flower conditioning”, which is the process of refreshing cut flowers by trimming their leaves and stems and placing them in water. Later, I was allowed to create small arrangements like those for pews. Little by little, I was exposed to more roles. With the guidance of senior members of the Floral Ministry, and supplemented by my own research, I learnt different tips about flower arrangements, such as picking out the appropriate flowers, providing for the various liturgical seasons, and where to place
the arrangements. As my interest grew, so did my love for serving this way.

“Beautifying the church with flower arrangements increases the impact of our worship experience. It is indeed the work of our hands for His greater glory.”

While the compliments on my flower arrangements gratify me, I continually remind myself that my service is for God and not about me. Serving is exalting the glory of God and putting my focus on Him.

A continuing commitment

A few years ago, I was asked to be the coordinator of the Floral Ministry. This gave me an even greater appreciation for the hard work and commitment shown by the members. When churches first opened up after circuit breaker, only those under the age of60 were allowed to serve, leaving us only six active members initially. This meant more time was needed per active member. The few of us could be involved for a whole day just making the floral arrangements for a wedding! For the love of God, our Floral community gather together to serve Him with commitment and generosity. We hope that through this service, we gift our fellow Catholics a better and more beautiful encounter with God.

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