On Nov 26 and 27 this year, the first weekend of Advent, the Catholic Church in Singapore will be embarking on a large-scale fundraising exercise to fuel its pastoral vision to be a more vibrant, missionary and evangelistic Church.
The Giving in Faith & Thankfulness (GIFT) campaign challenges every Catholic in Singapore to pray, volunteer, and pledge a monthly monetary contribution to the archdiocese.
Headed by the Catholic Foundation, the fundraising arm of the archdiocese, the campaign will be instrumental in the Church’s plans to expand and increase its programmes, as well as improve its physical infrastructure.
“The Church’s present funding model has become inadequate to meet its growing needs, and urgently requires a more sustainable source of funds,” said Msgr Philip Heng, the Vicar General of Administration and Finance.
The main source of finance for the archdiocese has traditionally been 15 percent of collections during weekend Masses at each of its 31 parishes. But in 2015, the needs of the archdiocese outgrew its funding and resulted in an operating deficit of $2 million, according to Msgr Heng.
The deficit is evidence that the Church requires more funds to grow towards its vision, first introduced in 2013 as a response to Pope Francis’ call for a renewal of the Catholic Church’s mission worldwide.
“The world must see that what we do is not simply the work of a human institution, but the marvellous work of God through poor and inadequate instruments like us,” Archbishop William Goh said. “This is why the GIFT campaign is really more than just about fundraising. It is a spiritual rejuvenation of our Church’s mission, and a revitalisation of our work for the benefit of all of society,” Archbishop Goh added.
A shortfall of $238.1 million is projected in the archdiocese over the next seven years. Financial resources are needed to fund the work of numerous Catholic groups, commissions, councils, offices and other organisations in the archdiocese.
On top of that, several infrastructural projects are also straining the archdiocese’s financial reserves.
Notable organisations include the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools, Archdiocesan Commission for the Family, Office for the New Evangelisation, and the Office for Young People, amongst others.
Under the pastoral vision, these organisations have already begun expanding their programmes and finding new ways to work with one another. Through these efforts, more people will be able to benefit from better programmes and initiatives of Catholic organisations in Singapore.
Alongside an increase in programmes, building projects have been initiated to facilitate the Church’s growth. This includes a new seminary and formation centre, a residence for retired priests, and a centre for the archdiocese’s activities.
Construction of the seminary and formation building started on Oct 26, 2016. When completed in an estimated one and a half years, it will provide the Church with new and better facilities to form its future priests, as well as lay faithful.
Bethany East, a residence for retired priests, will help address an expected increase in the number of aged priests in the near future. Renovation of a residential property in Changi to serve as Bethany East is expected to begin in January next year, and estimated to take a year to complete.
In a bid to optimise land usage, a plot of land on Upper Thomson Road is also planned to be redeveloped as a centre for the archdiocese’s activities. The Archdiocesan Centre will be crucial in providing larger and more appropriate facilities for the increasing number of programmes of Catholic organisations in Singapore.
Another initiative to improve the Church’s infrastructure involves the creation of sinking funds for the renewal of land leases and ageing properties of the archdiocese.
“The Church in Singapore has grown over the years through the work of many Catholics. This has allowed the Church to benefit not just our Catholic community, but the wider society. It is up to today’s generation to continue to build up the Church for the good of many, for generations to come,” said Mr Kwek Mean Luck, chairperson of the Catholic Foundation.
“In our life on earth, we are merely stewards of our time, families, wealth and all blessings. Let us be aware and thankful of what God has given us, and always seek to bless others with what the Almighty has blessed us with. I have confidence that all of you will step up to help us realise this dream for the Church, our nation and humanity. Jesus needs you to build His Church. Come follow Him!” said Archbishop Goh.