Taking active steps towards Christian Leadership

Ervin TanFeature

Gabriel Png (front row, first from right) alongside the members of the Church of Saint Vincent De Paul Parish Pastoral Council.
Photo: Gabriel Png.

Taking active steps towards Christian Leadership

Gabriel Png helps with the planning of pastoral activities and faith formation in the parish as part of the Parish Pastoral Council in the Church of St Vincent de Paul.

Jesus has been a constant presence in my life, revealing Himself to me through various people. My parents played a major role in my journey – they brought me up in the faith and gave me a strong spiritual foundation. Father Jude David and Fr Jovita Ho, whom I met during my university days, mentored me and played a large part in my formation. I also received constant support and encouragement from the young adults’ community and my choir in the Church of St Vincent de Paul, where I have been serving for many years.

A New Call to Serve

In 2017, the Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) wanted to renew its membership and diversify its representation. As an active member of the young adults’ community, I was approached to serve on the Council. It was not difficult to say yes, as I saw it as a natural extension of offering my talents to the Church. I was also very interested to find out about and understand how the lay leadership functioned, and how it fit within the wider structure of the parish. Serving in the PPC, I am now involved with the planning of pastoral activities and faith formation based on the guidance of the PPC’s overall direction for the parish community. I also help with any publicity and logistics that these activities may require.

Being the youngest member, it has been a humbling experience to learn from the more senior members. Not only do they bring a wealth of knowledge from their own professional careers, they also have years of experience working with different parish priests and renewed pastoral directions. Discussions are always insightful as views and ideas are shared on how to better engage parishioners and grow the parish community.

Learning to Lead

There were not many formal opportunities to grow in Catholic leadership at the time, so when the then newly formed Catholic leadership Centre (CLC) began introducing such courses, and when the opportunity was offered to me, it was one that was difficult to pass up. I was deeply interested to attend such courses as it allowed me to be able to actively grow my Catholic leadership skills. attended the Leadership Values in Crucible Events workshop when they offered it in 2021. This workshop was designed to help us reflect and discover how certain key events and experiences impacted and shaped us into who we are today and continue to guide our behaviours and decisions as leaders. Later, I was among several young adults in my parish who joined a pilot run of the Emerging Leadership Initiative programme which was designed to further strengthen the leadership exposure for those already actively serving. These courses piqued my interest as they seemed very applicable to the ministries that I was involved in and instilled a deep passion in me to use my God given strength and fortitude to serve and to be alive in the spirit.

I have learnt the importance of building trust as a Catholic leader, and cultivating an environment of vulnerability, which facilitates a Christ-like working and living culture in the parishes and in our Catholic communities. It has helped me to better align my thoughts and intentions with the wider vision for the pastoral ministry of the parish and to be better attuned to Christ’s approach to leading His Church.

Importance of Nurturing Leaders

My service has provided me with the opportunity to use my God-given gifts of creativity and graphic design experience to bring Christ’s message to others, be it through various publicity materials for parish events or videos for parish outreach. The time and effort I have put into the service of God is always worthwhile, as it has helped me to better understand how to lead with the heart of the Good Shepherd and enter deeper into His heart. Having gone through leadership formation, I feel that it is important that future leaders encounter proper structured leadership training and are empowered with the skills to spread the Gospel. This will provide a firm foundation to build them up and encourage greater dialogue and creativity, benefitting and enlivening our parishes, offices, Catholic communities and our Archdiocese as a whole. Through these courses, I have gained enriching experiences to grow my spiritual leadership. I would urge Catholic leaders, who are passionate on spreading the Gospel to take advantage of these specialised courses that are available to nurture their spiritual selves to take up these courses, if offered.

I hope that whatever little I have contributed in my own small community will impact others and inspire them to steward their gifts for God too. We are all called to be good stewards for Him!

Catholic Leadership Centre’s purpose is to form and equip Catholic leaders to build a vibrant, evangelising and missionary Church. It seeks to ignite the hearts of lay Catholic leaders and nurture them with the necessary formation and skills to lead and act as a catalyst to those under their care, helping their parish priests unite the Body of Christ to make disciples and build the Kingdom of God in society.

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