What Catholic200SG means to me: “Faith, my constant rock”

Ervin TanFeature

Eunice (centre) with her friends from university at Montserrat, Barcelona after their pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in 2016. Photo: Eunice Ong

What Catholic200SG means to me: “Faith, my constant rock”

As our Archdiocese collectively celebrates this momentous occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Catholic faith in Singapore, how can we continue building a more vibrant, evangelising and missionary Church? Eunice Ong reflects on this and her personal faith journey.

I am a Catholic convert. I love music, play the drums and cannot imagine life as a non- Catholic. From opposition to belief I grew up in a Protestant- Taoist family. My dad’s side is Taoist while my mum’s is mainly Protestant. My maternal grandmother had brought my cousins and me to her church since we were babies.

When I was about 15, my mother’s colleague introduced her to the Novena Church, telling her that miracles happened for people who attended the Novena Devotion to Our Mother of Perpetual
Help. Out of curiosity, she went.

I objected as I then had anti-Catholic views typical of many Protestants. Much later, I started to attend Novena Devotions with my mother and read up on my own. My prejudices slowly disappeared as I began to understand Catholicism. I chose to study in Catholic Junior College. There I met a senior who shared with me extensively about the faith. Blown away by the rich beauty and traditions of the Catholic Church, I knew it was time to “return home”, and was baptised in 2007.

Learning to rely on God

My faith has been the constant rock in my life. It kept me going during my years studying overseas, especially during the first few weeks of settling in a new country. At 21, I went for an exchange to France. I was still learning the language, struggling to get around, and doubted if I had made the right decision to “suffer” in a foreign land.

A week after my arrival, I found a Catholic church near my house and began to go for daily Mass. I could hardly follow the language but knowing that every response and prayer was the same, I did not feel alone. The environment and circumstances may differ but I know I am home whenever I find a Catholic church.

From using the English and French Magnificat booklets side by side to eventually praying all the different responses and prayers in French by heart, the Mass indirectly helped me to learn and master the language.

More importantly, it was one of the best six months in my life as I relied solely on God to pull me through when the going got tough!

Sanctifying self and the world

Working in a challenging environment today, I am grateful that I can attend Mass daily, even if it is online. I seek His grace and strength to be able to meet the demands of each day, and try to be light and salt wherever I am. I am also grateful that my friends near and far pray for me, supporting me in the communion of faith.

Laypeople especially are made for the world. As Catholics, we are to sanctify ourselves and the people around us in our ordinary work and living. God must be present in everything: business, the law, journalism, the arts and every sphere of life. Our Church humanises society, ensuring that the dignity of every person is protected. She teaches that there is something higher, something greater than ourselves and our needs.

We all have what it takes to be effective missionaries of God. We can do it by living a coherent life, always wearing a smile, offering a word of encouragement to those around us, seeing people as human beings rather than units of production, and doing well in whatever jobs we are in. Each day, I try to be optimistic in the face of contradictions and difficulties, to be always patient and to see my colleagues as fellow children of God by asking after them, caring for them. We can be a source of positive change that helps others to have a foretaste of heaven on earth!

Knowing and passing on our faith

The key to passing on the faith is through effective formation and catechesis. I have witnessed this through great programmes by the Office for Catechesis and the Catholic Theological Institute of Singapore that form catechists and emphasise doctrinal and formation classes. The Office for Young People is also a great initiative that engages the youth.

By learning and knowing about our Church, we will come to love her and our Lord more, as I did. And this love will see our Church through come what may – I have observed that whenever there is a rallying call, such as the recent call for donations to aid our brothers and sisters in India, there are always people who generously step forward to give and help.

I am very grateful to the first missionaries who brought the faith to our shores. I hope Catholic200SG will remind each of us that our small acts of evangelisation know no bounds. Every person God puts in our paths matters. We are all responsible for ensuring our faith continues to be passed on for 200 years, 2,000 years and beyond.

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