Spreading the Good News
Adeline Chan is among the handful of volunteers who kick-started RCIA at the Church of St Vincent De Paul. She reminisces about the 27 fulfilling years in service, despite the increased challenges over time. She shares her perspective on how to inspire more individuals to serve.
The late Archbishop Gregory Yong, religious, and lay Catholics, at the RCIA Diocesan Experience held in 1989, at the former premises of the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary. Photo: Adeline Chan
Adeline Chan, 69, became a Catholic at 14, after curiosity got the better of her. At that time, her father had already begun inquiring into the faith and owned various Catholic books. Intrigued by his interest in those books, Adeline decided to pick one up, changing her life forever.
A few years later, she began her career as a teacher. Despite having to juggle work and family, she continued yearning for spiritual growth and refused to let herself be stagnant in the faith. Adeline said, “From the very beginning, I was very curious about the faith. I particularly enjoyed reading books and articles about the Church and inspiring stories like that of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. Even today, I find that learning
about the faith in this way can be very infectious.”
Her service in the Church began in 1983. Adeline had moved to Seletar and was worshipping at the Church of St Vincent De Paul (SVDP). Together with her husband, she joined the warden ministry where she continues to serve today.
In 1988, upon returning from a pilgrimage, Adeline found herself fully charged and ready to serve God in a new way and to share the Good News. She embarked on a journey to bring adult faith education to her parish by joining the Education and Faith Formation Committee.
She shared, “Our primary task was to look into the syllabus and material for adult faith education because we did not have the resources that we do today. A year later, I found myself being part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) Diocesan Experience. It was a four-day retreat for everyone involved in RCIA programmes across the Archdiocese. This retreat really opened my eyes to what was needed in the Church for adult faith formation.”
Together with Fr Adrian Anthony, parish priest of SVDP then, Adeline and her fellow volunteers began recruiting the help they needed to start RCIA in their parish. She recalled, “The laity simply came together to build this programme to help others learn of Jesus and of our faith. Quite wonderfully, we did not have to search far or wide. The beautiful thing was that when parishioners heard about the small group of us starting RCIA, they came forward all on their own. This reassured us that we were doing His work and that God was providing the labourers.”
She continued, “There were also a number of experienced catechists and volunteers who underwent and benefitted from RCIA programmes conducted by other parishes. They were responsible for developing and finalising the content and format of our programme.”
Serving in simpler times
While Adeline primarily managed administrative and logistic matters, another group of volunteers who were open to sharing their faith, journeyed with the catechumens as sponsors. She said, “At first, many of the sponsors were apprehensive about joining the lessons. We had to remind them that they didn’t need to ‘know everything’ and that their willingness to be open and share their faith journey was more than enough.”
Adeline said that it was much simpler to arrange RCIA sessions in the early days. Today, everchanging schedules, temporary overseas postings and overtime work often get in the way of inquiring adults. She shared, “Apart from those who cannot come for some of the sessions due to their work commitments, other catechumens struggle to even arrive on time. Some are so pressed for time that they are unable to have a proper meal before the start of the lesson.
That is why we are grateful to our hospitality team for providing such nourishing food. They make sure that faith is the only thing that catechumens hunger for!”
Inviting more to serve
As with many who are already serving in the Church, Adeline hopes that more Catholics will step forward to help build a more vibrant, evangelising and missionary Church. She said, “Despite the challenges, I have served as a sponsor for 27 years and coordinator for 12 years, and it has been such a fulfi lling journey for me. Many ministries and organisations need help, and each of them is meaningful in its own way. We need to search for ways in which we can give back.
If you see a need, step forward and help, just like the volunteers that we are so blessed with.” Adeline advised ministries to recruit others by serving with joy. She shared, “When they see your joyful service, they may be inspired to serve too!”