Fostering a lifetime of service and giving
The GIFT programme encourages Catholics to make a monthly pledge to help support the needs of the Archdiocese of Singapore. In this feature, we speak with Jason Cheong, a long-term altar server who contributes monthly to GIFT. He shares with us the life experiences that have shaped his faith and his choice to give and to serve.
Jason (left) and Family, posing in front of the St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Italy.
Photo: Jason Cheong.
Jason Cheong, a 19-year-old student at Brown Universityin Providence, Rhode Island, United States, was baptised at the age of eight, when his parents were converted to the Catholic faith. Jason soon became an altar server and has continued doing so for over a decade now.
Currently studying English and International Relations abroad, Jason continues to serve earnestly as an altar server and sacristan for the university’s Catholic community. In addition, he is serving as the Treasurer on the community’s Pastoral Council and is a photographer for the community.
Being able to play a role in the Catholic community in school is not something Jason takes for granted. He was not enrolled in a Catholic primary school, and spent years admiring how friends from Catholic schools were able to participate in Catholic retreats during the semester and attend weekly mass on campus.
Through his service for the Lord, Jason fostered a deep love for the Liturgy. Altar servers play an important role in the celebration of Holy Mass, contributing to the Body of Christ present in the parish. By committing to regular altar services, they learn about the order of the Mass and have a myriad of tasks and responsibilities in the Holy Sanctuary. More importantly, altar servers come to imbibe the true meaning of the Mass.
With the commitment required, Jason has had to learn how to manage his time to accommodate school, sports, and cultural activities, without neglecting his spiritual formation and role at the altar.
A continuous journey
When it came to his faith journey, Jason’s parents have always been very encouraging and supportive. As they grew to know more about the faith, they would share what they learnt with him.
Jason remembered, “Over the past year, my family has been regularly going for the Holy Hour at the Church of the Holy Spirit. We also try to pray the rosary together even if we can only manage to do it during our car rides together.”
“These are among the ways we try to strengthen our faith. It is a work-in-progress, and a family effort,” he added.
Similarly, Jason feels that the New Evangelisation should not stop at the baptism of new converts; it is a continual process of giving to others and growing in holiness from this act of life long giving.
“The New Evangelisation means meeting people where they are and using all the gifts and resources available to us in the modern age, to spread the Good News of God. Above all it is a call to a deeper conversion for all the faithful, regardless of the stage of their faith journey. It is a call to grow in holiness and discipleship in the living community of one Church.”
“You received without charge, give without charge.” (Matthew 10:8)
Jason explained that although Jesus said this in the context of commanding His disciples to exercise the spiritual gifts without cost, he finds it equally relevant as an instruction about one’s attitude towards money and material possessions, because truly all that we have on this earth is a gift from God.
He shared, “There are many who can give. As a student, I do not have much I can gift the Church, and there may be some who question the impact of what I can give every month. The Church has the mission of saving souls; her mission is a matter of eternal life and death. I cannot by my own power save my own life, and that is why I need Christ and the Church. Thus, whatever I can give, I will try and give to the Church.”
“I support the GIFT campaign because I think it is an elegant solution that brings the needs of the Archdiocese under one banner, and presents a more visible face that can better canvas support from the faithful.”
Jason is glad that the Office for Young People is among the organizations that his monthly pledge will provide for. Together with many friends, he has benefited from their many programmes like the bimonthly Nox Gaudiis, the NS Youth group, “Come as You Are”, as well as the preuniversity Kickstart retreat – all of which were crucial to his faith formation journey. unafraid to give
To encourage those who may be afraid of giving because they are worried they will not have enough for themselves, Jason finds that remembering Jesus’ own words can be very reassuring. “I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and what you are to wear.” (Mathew 6:25)
Jason declared, “God will provide for all that we need. He only asks that we give Him ourselves, our time, our resources and talents. Just like with the five loaves and two fish, He will be able to take what we have, multiply it and do a greater good for His people, more than we could ever do ourselves.”