Vision 2023: What it Takes to Build a More Vibrant and Evangelistic Church
Catholic Foundation takes on the task of raising funds to make the Archdiocese’s vision a reality.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few” (Mt 9:37).
Jesus’ words ring true till today, nearly three years since the Archdiocese of Singapore established a new pastoral vision.
Much has been accomplished on the journey to realising its vision to be a more vibrant, missionary and evangelistic Church in Singapore. But one obstacle continues to prove difficult: resources are, quite simply, scarce.
“For God’s harvest to be gathered, there is a need for labourers to be paid fairly, barns to be built, and tools to be acquired,” said Msgr Philip Heng, Vicar General of Administration and Finance.
He explains, “The archdiocese needs funds for its organisations, programmes and projects. The hard truth is, the current funding model of our archdiocese is insufficient to uphold our Church, let alone fuel its growth.”
To address this challenge, the mandate of the Catholic Foundation (CF), which was established in 2012, was expanded to focus on the much needed funding to make the vision a reality.
Funding the archdiocese
The Catholic Church in Singapore consists of 31 parishes and numerous archdiocesan organisations involved in areas such as pastoral care, faith formation, education, family, youth, migrants, and so on.
Funding for the parishes and archdiocese have traditionally come from the weekly offertories and other collections made during Masses.
Most of the money collected is retained for each parish’s own needs, such as running their own programmes, operational costs, and maintaining their buildings.
Until recently, only a fixed 15 per cent of the first weekend’s collections in parishes went to the archdiocese. (Beginning 2016, the 15 per cent fixed contribution was revised to a tiered system of between four to 28 per cent depending on the income of each parish).
However, this is still far from adequate to meet the archdiocese’s financial needs. “In 2015, the operating deficit of the archdiocese after the 15 per cent share of the parishes’ collections was $2 million – and that is not counting the several capital needs of the Church,” Msgr Heng revealed.
Catholic Foundation’s role
CF was established in December 2012 with the initial intent of providing an additional vehicle of funds for the archdiocese for capacity building, improving the processes of the Church’s institutions, enhancing the competencies of those working in the Church, and strengthening the formation of priests, religious and lay people.
Initially, CF was low key, organising small-scale fundraising luncheons and dinners. It made its first call to select archdiocesan organisations for grants in 2013.
“However, with the new pastoral vision and increasing financial needs of the archdiocese, we had to relook the whole financial structure of the archdiocese,” said Msgr Heng.
Thus, in late 2015, Archbishop William Goh decided that CF would be the umbrella fundraising vehicle to provide for the archdiocese.
Taking on a bigger mission
With CF, fundraising activities for the archdiocese would be consolidated under one body, rather than through multiple archdiocesan bodies.
This allows organisations such as the Office for New Evangelisation (ONE), Archdiocesan Commission for the Family (ACF), and so on, to focus on their apostolate work and not be limited by unsustainable budgets.
Ms Juliana Foo, Executive Director of the Catholic Foundation, elaborates: “This not only makes fundraising more effective, but also helps ensure higher security and accountability in the handling of donations in the Church.”
During Advent in 2015, CF organised its first archdiocesan-wide fundraising appeal, raising approximately $2 million.
However, the scale of work needed to realise the archdiocese’s pastoral vision requires significantly more resources.
Despite the demanding task, a sense of confidence and trust in God’s Will burns in the hearts of CF’s staff and its board of directors.
The 15-member board comprises leadership priests as well as professionals from relevant industries such as the finance and legal sectors, all appointed by the archbishop.
Mr Kwek Mean Luck, Chairman of the Catholic Foundation, believes that “there is so much in our Church in Singapore today that we have been blessed with. God calls us to grow with Him as individuals and as a Church. He calls us to take the love and gifts we receive, place it in His hands, and let Him do His wondrous work.”
Msgr Heng, who is also a member of the Catholic Foundation’s Board, said, “What is truly needed is prayer and a total dependence on God’s grace. We are but the labourers who plant the seeds, but it is God who makes the seeds grow.”