Francis Lee (second row, in white) alongside members of the Simei NCC, after a recent prayer session together.
Photo: Simei NCC.
Retired, but working for God and the Community
At the age of 14, Francis Lee learnt the importance of belonging to a Catholic community. Yet in the bustle of life, he found himself with other priorities. The call to service was reignited after he retired and became the Chairperson of the Simei Neighbourhood Christian Community.
Born into the faith, I attended the Church of Saint Stephen, and joined the Stephenities youth group at the age of 14. Being part of this group kept me from straying away from the Church and revealed to me the importance of community.
Returning to Community
However, my priorities changed and I decided to take a step back and left the Stephenities. When I got married, my focus shifted to my family and career. In the midst of juggling work and family obligations, I tried to make time for God by praying and spending time with Him in the adoration room. Those short moments spent before the Lord were truly precious to me as it allowed me to quieten down and be still with Him. Around 1998, my wife Priscilla joined the Simei Neighbourhood Christian Community (NCC) after learning about the ministry through a friend. I followed soon after, but could not be actively involved due to work commitments and served as an ordinary member. Being part of the Simei NCC gave me the opportunity to meet fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who lived in the area, and to foster friendships over time. I was part of a community once again and I grew to cherish it.
Called to Do More
When I retired in April 2020, I felt the call to do more in service to God and His Church. The opportunity was presented to me when the chairperson then asked
me to take over her role. I sought the Lord in prayer again – this time away from the distractions of work – and after discernment, I agreed to take on this responsibility. My retirement also meant that I had additional time on my hands, which made it easier for me to step up to this role. As the chairperson, I guide the members in the various activities we organise. We hold regular family rosary prayers and weekly Bible sharing sessions for our elderly members, and serve at the parish canteen two or three times a year. These activities provide us with opportunities to grow in faith together and allow us to share our fears and concerns with one another.
Guiding from Experience
As with many other communities, we faced difficulties when the pandemic hit and we had to switch to a remote way of worshipping and praying. Making sure our elderly members were equipped with the skills to use Zoom was particularly challenging. During this time, I was able to use my work experience and IT knowledge, such as setting up the PowerPoint presentations with embedded hymns for our sessions. At the same time, I learnt to be patient and humble so that I could reach out to the different people of the community and help them tide over this difficult period. I learnt the importance of putting my trust in the Lord. When the measures eased, there was an initial reluctance from some of the members to resume our communal activities as most were still afraid of getting Covid-19. I prayed to God to guide our members, help them conquer these fears, and to experience community life once again.
Growing the Community
Being part of a strong Church community is an important part of my life and helps me not to lose sight of the Lord. I feel humbled that I have been given the honour to serve God by leading the flock that He has entrusted me with, despite my failings of pride and impatience. I seek His grace daily for patience and a loving heart to care for the members He has placed under my care, and I hope that my service in Simei NCC now will help strengthen this community so that others may also grow spiritually. I encourage everyone to accept the Lord’s call, to exercise their gifts and steward them for the Church, to serve the Lord and His people.