Serving together for God’s family
Alphonsus and Cyrine, who are both in the Archdiocesan Commission for the Family (ACF), have been serving in various ministries since their younger days. They share some of the hurdles they face in their service of the Church, and how they have been able to overcome them.
Cyrine and Alphonsus (centre) celebrated their wedding anniversary with a family photoshoot.
Photo: Alphonsus and Cyrine
Husband and wife team Alphonsus Gregory and Cyrine Joosa met each other while they were both studying at the National University of Singapore and serving in the Legion of Mary. They continued doing God’s work there well into their marriage.
Since then, they have journeyed with terminally ill cancer patients, and are currently serving in the Church of Saint Vincent De Paul (SVDP) as communion
ministers and couple mentors.
In 2015, their attention shifted to the Archdiocesan Commission for the Family (ACF). ACF collaborates closely with its 13 family ministries and organisations, working tirelessly together to support, illuminate and assist individuals and families at various stages of the Catholic life journey, from the womb to the tomb.
Alphonsus recalled, “We were already serving as Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME), Singapore National Coordinators when we were asked to join ACF. We felt like it was a win-win situation since the Commission was tasked to work with the various family ministries and had a vision very much aligned with WWME’s goal to strengthen marriages and build strong foundations in marriage. Still, due to many other responsibilities, we needed to take some time to discern and pray about it before we agreed to serve as a couple.”
Serving the family
At ACF, much of what they do revolves around helping families grow into intimate communities of life and love, experiencing the fullness of love and joy that God desires for all of us. In this way, families become tangible signs of God’s love and bring Christ into this wounded world.
Cyrine remembered, “When we first got involved with ACF, the focus was first on the setup and the structure. After getting on the ground, we started with small programmes that were not offered elsewhere and slowly built up from there.
Different individuals have different needs, so we try to see where the gaps are. I think it’s quite nice because it’s organic in the sense that we respond to a rising need.”
Currently serving in the Parish Engagement Team at ACF, Alphonsus and Cyrine are responsible for working with the parishes that wish to start a family life ministry and assist them with formation resources and courses.
Cyrine said, “Building a strong relationship with those whom we serve is very important, and it is humbling to see the efforts of ACF start to bear fruit. We are overjoyed when we witness better responses to various new initiatives or when we hear about how both intact and hurting families are benefitting. These blessings strengthen us. We experience God’s love and feel privileged to be His instruments, imperfect as we are.”
With both working full-time, Alphonsus as a teacher at St Joseph’s Institution and Cyrine as a lecturer at a local polytechnic, it can sometimes feel like there are not enough hours in a day.
Alphonsus said, “We have six wonderful children. On occasion, balancing our work at ACF, our time with our family, and our responsibilities at our jobs can be difficult. Striking that balance and making time to be there for the children is crucial.”
He added, “Our children are blessings from God. We are thankful that they have been very understanding. They know that we are dedicating some of our time for a cause that is important to the future of the Church in Singapore. Their unconditional support convinced us that we are doing something right.”
Another obstacle they face in their service is the occasional disagreements between them. While this 0occurs in all marriages, it poses a unique challenge\ when it is about how to do His work with ACF best. They overcome this by maintaining open communication with each other, and by making a conscious effort to treat each
other with love and respect.
Cyrine explained, “Our working styles are very different, and we are both very opinionated. Instead of dictating with a top-down approach, listening and daily dialogue are crucial to maintaining a good relationship with each other and with the communities. Naturally, praying for His guidance and wisdom is important too.”
Serving the Church together as a married couple for over 30 years, they have had their fair share of negative comments from others. However, they have developed an unwavering approach to overcome such obstacles with ease.
Cyrine elaborated, “When challenges present themselves, it is an opportunity to be life-giving and to be an even stronger voice of Christ’s unconditional love. In these times, we cling even more to the graces we need to become better versions of ourselves for others. That is what motivates us to continue
to be a gift to our Church.”
Breaking new ground
Their service at ACF over the past few years has taught them a great deal and helped deepen their understanding of God’s desire for marriage and family. Because of what they have learnt during their service, Alphonsus and Cyrine had their eyes opened to various family needs at their parish.
Cyrine shared, “With the supportive guidance of our priests, we shared the ‘womb to tomb’ journey with the Parish Pastoral Council in SVDP to identify the areas of growing need.”
Alphonsus added, “They gave us the mandate to restart the Family Life Ministry at SVDP. We just launched it at the start of this year. This is a new journey for us, but we are ready to collaborate with catechists and youth coordinators to conduct formation for parents.”
Both husband and wife are excited to continue their service in a new way. Reflecting on their journey together thus far, Alphonsus concluded, “I suppose you can say that in giving and serving where God calls us, we have received new insight to help us serve more.”