What does Catholic200SG mean to me

Ervin TanFeature

What does Catholic200SG mean to me?

As our Archdiocese collectively celebrates this momentous occasion of the 200th anniversary of the Catholic faith in Singapore, what does it mean for the individual Catholic? Friar Derrick Yap, OFM reflects on his faith journey, and how Catholics can build a more vibrant, evangelising and missionary Church.

Before I became a Catholic, I remembered when I was 14 years old, a primary school friend introduced me to the Catholic faith at the Church of the Holy Family. He invited me to sing at morning Mass with the choir. After about two years of learning about the faith and just being with the community there, I joined the Rite of Christian Initiation for Youth (RCIY) and began my journey into the Catholic Faith.

For God so loves me

Since then, Jesus Christ has led me on a journey that I would never have had imagined for myself. Now, having been a Franciscan Friar for about 19 years, growing in faith with my brothers and also ministering to the People of God, I have grown a lot as a person, a Christian and as a friar. I have come to realise that the love of Jesus Christ becomes more and more real as I carry on each day in this life that He Himself has called me to.

The Catholic faith has changed my perspective about life and was crucial in planting in my heart the desire for God, which then flowed into my mission and activities. The community support has been a great witness for me since I joined my Church choir, where I experienced families serving together, people from all walks of life coming together in love for the Lord and for each other. This is a shining witness of life and love, and continues to be so for me.

For God so loves Singapore

As I reflect on our 200th anniversary, I am grateful that our Church in Singapore is blessed with our nation’s peace and stability. Generally, our people are still very spiritual and are open to dialogue about faith, including dialogue with other faiths. The high level of literacy also enhances our catechetical efforts, and our high connectivity allows an exchange of ideas very quickly and expansively.

As a member of the Body of Christ, I have seen our Church grow in strength, not just in numbers but also in involvement in the various areas of society. I have seen how many Catholics are thirsting to grow in faith and how parishes are responding to this thirst through encouraging the building of communities and developing various formation programmes.

Honestly, I am proud that the Catholic Church is a shining beacon in Singapore society. As a Church, we have aided Singapore in many areas, such as education, families, youth, migrants and social mission, which are areas that I too particularly find meaningful. I believe that ultimately, it is the Catholic spirit that we all share that serves in all these branches of social service, and all are part of the integrated and holistic effort to bring the Good News to the poor and lead all people to recognise the tender love of God.

For God desires more for us

The message of Jesus Christ continues to evangelise and sanctify the world. Every one of us Catholic Christians are called to be that light in society and to confound those who are deeply entrenched in worldly values. Our call is to point to a reality beyond what we can see in our world.

My hope is for the local Church to keep being rooted in Jesus Christ and to grow our roots even deeper and stronger in our faith in God. Only in this way can the Holy Spirit enlighten the path ahead for us and inflame our hearts to courageously and authentically go forth in mission.

Accompanying our efforts to build communities and grow in our social services, we need to journey with other Catholics in prayer and help them hear God speaking in their lives.

My response to God

To help realise these goals, I see myself journeying with groups and communities by giving them days of recollection, retreats and faith formation sessions particularly in the Word of God. Ultimately I hope to help others to discern what their call and mission are in the present moment. If we are all intentional in our prayer and discernment, then the Spirit will find a ready field to plant seeds for God’s plan for Singapore and indeed the whole world.

I hope that this celebration will allow Catholics to dream courageously of what God wants of us for this tiny island in this part of the world: a call to be prophetic!

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