Equipping the laity to answer His call

Ervin TanFeature

Equipping the laity to answer His call

The GIFT (Giving in Faith and Thankfulness) campaign seeks to rally the Catholic community and raise the resources to support the archdiocese’s plan for a vibrant, evangelising and missionary Church in Singapore. Equipping the laity with the necessary formation is therefore an important aspect of this movement. In this feature, Leonard, 39, and Cassilda, 38, share about the special journey they took together to serve God’s Church.

Cassilda and Leonard Koh, recipients of a scholarship grant from the Catholic Foundation.
Photo: Leonard Koh

Leonard Koh and Cassilda Koh, are a husband and wife team who have been very involved in various youth ministries for many years.

“Even before marriage, ministries have always been a very big part of who we are. We are from the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, where we served in the Living Waters Youth Ministry and later in the Youth Praise Ministry (YPM). Subsequently, we served in Amplify when it was formed after Catholic Spirituality Centre (CSC) adopted YPM,” Cassilda said.

Believing that marriage is “not a time for settling down”, but rather, a chance to continue God’s work with an even greater impact together, Leonard and Cassilda did not let married life keep them from leading the youth to a life of discipleship.

Going Full-time

After some time in CSC under the spiritual direction of the then Rector, now His Grace, Archbishop William Goh, Leonard and Cassilda left their respective professions to devote themselves to serve the youth full-time.

Leonard elaborated, “The number of Catholics in CSC kept growing. We eventually decided that we needed to fully devote ourselves in order to meet the growing needs of the youth ministry. That was when the Archbishop asked if we could see ourselves working in the Church for the long term. He suggested that we should be further trained if we were serious about serving God and His Church.”

Cassilda added, “We were always involved in formation work and not just in organising and coordinating things. So he felt that in the long run, in order for us to continue doing this type of work, we needed to build on what we knew and grow in knowledge and understanding.”

Formation studies

A year or so later, in 2016, after prayers and discernment, the couple decided to trust in the path that the Lord had laid out. This meant applying for a scholarship from Catholic Foundation (CF) and dropping everything to go abroad. Upon receiving a partial CF scholarship grant, Leonard and Cassilda went for a two-year course to pursue the Master of Theological Studies from the Yarra Theological Union of the University of Divinity in Melbourne, Australia.

“I think we were looking for a place that was both academically vigorous as well as had a strong pastoral application. We found this in the University of Divinity. At the end of each class, I realised that I was grappling with what I learned and would try to figure out how it could be applied to the pastoral, work, ministry, and the family context in Singapore.

“Class was an open environment for ample lecture-student interaction, where we felt free to ask tough questions, and could listen to the different views from students of different Christian faith backgrounds. I found this really helpful. It wasn’t just theology, but life-on-life theology that can’t be found in just any textbook,” she added.

Together, they graduated and received the Vice- Chancellor Scholarship Award for excellence in one or more of the university’s graduate attributes, including academic excellence, contribution to the college community, and service to the wider society.

Back to serve

Now better equipped with the tools to serve Him and the Catholic Community, Leonard and Cassilda have returned to their lives in Singapore, and to their ministry in CSC. Cassilda has assumed the Executive Director post, while Leonard is now the Senior Manager (Programme & Pastoral).

The formal theological training has enabled them to work with the Spiritual Director to provide formation across the discipleship spectrum, and formulate pastoral responses to the challenges of a complex societal and pastoral landscape.

Cassilda explained, “The Theological education that I received has challenged my thinking and has given me a more nuanced understanding and approach to my faith. I now bring this into every decision I make, be it work, ministry or family. We are therefore very grateful for the support from CF, CSC, family members and friends, who have made this journey possible.”

For Leonard, the training has taught him to keep his eye on the end point – the reason behind every action. “This is especially useful when problems arise and we know that we will make it through as long as what we are doing is something that He will get behind and send His Holy Spirit to give us the grace to accomplish what we need to,” he said.

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