Gift of gratitude

Ervin TanFeature

Gift of gratitude

The GIFT campaign has been reaching out to the Catholic community to gather support for the growth of the Archdiocese. In this article, we learn about a senior couple who have generously given in gratitude to ensure our priests are looked after in their old age.

Dr Paul Chan and Dr Irene Lim with their grandchildren.
Photo: Dr Paul Chan

Dr Paul Chan, 72, and Dr Irene Lim, 71, both born just after World War II, grew up in a tough post war era.

Having spent their childhood in such circumstances, both Paul and Irene learned about the value of resiliency and perseverance at a very young age. Spurred on by the conditions of that time, they both dedicated their lives to medicine and to helping others.

God’s guiding hand

Despite the various trials and challenges they have had to face, both doctors have constantly felt the invisible, loving hand of God in their lives.

Paul clarified, “We are very blessed to be Catholic. No matter what happened, He was always there for us. We could always feel His support, His love, and His guidance, especially through our interactions with priests and our parish community. And that gave us the spiritual strength we needed for the challenges in our journey.”

In 1976, the husband and wife team opened a small general practice (GP) clinic in Hougang, and are still treating patients there today.

Paul said, “At our age, we find work can be really demanding on us. He has given us the gift to become doctors, and we are thankful for the opportunity to serve. In His goodness, God has blessed us with grandchildren to bring us joy. We have an amazing and supportive family that enables us to continue helping others.”

Amongst those who have sought their medical advice and treatments have been priests and seminarians. These patients have been of particular significance to the couple as it has been their joy to give back, in a small way, to the shepherds who have given their lives to God and the Church.

Very special priests

Paul continued, “We have also been blessed to encounter and befriend many wonderful priests, who have administered the Sacraments to us, and been there for us in times of joy, and in times of sorrow.”

Paul and Irene said that among the priests who have inspired them, and who have touched their lives in a very special way with their priestly wisdom, compassion, and loving actions are the late Reverend Frs Carlo Ly, Alfred Chan, Lawrence Yeo, and Hippolyte Berthold.

Fr Berthold in particular, holds a very special place in\ their hearts. He presented Paul’s grandfather with a pair of live geese during World War II – which
proved invaluable to ensuring that the family had nourishment in the remaining year of the war.

In later years, Fr Berthold gave Paul and Irene a cocker spaniel that became an integral part of their growing family, and was symbolic of the love shown by their favourite priest.

Irene explained, “The last time Paul and I saw Fr Berthold was when we visited him in St Theresa’s Home. He was retired and getting along in years. His basic daily needs were taken care of, but we truly believe that priests deserve so much more for everything they do for us.”

Answering the call

As a gesture of gratitude to priests, Paul and Irene decided to make a contribution of more than $300,000 to the Bethany East Fund under the GIFT campaign. A small portion of the donation came from the estate of Paul’s late brother, Chan Swee Huat.

Paul said, “This is a cause which is very close to our hearts. When we heard about the opportunity to contribute specifically to Bethany East, we knew we had to do our part.”

He continued, “We live a simple life, so we do not usually spend much. Our children are able to care for themselves. We want to do our share and we urge others to also do what they can. After all, when we die, we can’t take our material 27goods with us.”

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