Sunday, March 28, 2010

Working with Difficult Teens

Many catechists are not trained to deal deeply or lengthily with emotional problems, but are often the first to be called on to give some initial and helpful response to the cries of pain from children and teens that they catechise.

A short workshop “Working with Difficult Teens” by Bro. Collin Wee will offer an approach to listening and ministering that is holistic, and integrates spiritual and moral constructs with the psychological. This course is not an in depth study in counselling, but a guide for those who find themselves caught up in the problems of someone else. The objective of this course is not to make a counsellor out of you but to equip you with some fundamental pastoral care skills.

Date: 17, 24 Apr and 8 May 2010
Venue: 2 Highland Road, CAEC, St Michael’s room
Time: 9.30 am – 12.30 pm
Fee: $80 for 3 sessions
To register, call 6858 3011 or email

Please register early to avoid disappointment.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Archdiocesan Catechist Coordinator's Course

This year, the Catechetical Office commemorated Catechetical Sunday by launching the Archdiocesan Catechist Coordinator’s Course on January 9, 2010. The brand new course - one year in the making, is the initiative of Fr. Erbin Fernandez, the Director of Catechesis. The objective of the course is to re-acquaint catechist co-coordinators with the fundamental norms that govern catechetical ministry within the Catholic tradition. Approximately sixty catechists/coordinators (representing sixteen parishes) have committed themselves to an ongoing journey of formation in the hope of renewing catechetical ministry in their respective parishes.

As the catechist gathered eagerly on Saturday morning for their first session in the conference room of the Catholic Archdiocesan Education Centre, they were inspired by a simple para-liturgy that celebrated fifty years of catechetical development since the Second Vatican Council. The catechists were led to ponder the mystery of God’s faithful presence His Church. One catechist described the experience of the para-liturgy as engaging all his senses.

Over the next three months, course participants will be “soaked” into the living sources of the Church by familiarizing themselves with the use of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism will be experienced not only as a reference book but as a guiding inspiration to how catechesis should be celebrated and lived with the young person. It is anticipated that catechists will become more familiar with the method of celebration that draws its vitality from the Church’s rich liturgical and scriptural roots. The hope is that both young person and catechist will experience catechesis as an encounter with Jesus Christ.

Fr. Erbin noted that this new course would require a huge paradigm shift for catechists in the way they understood their vocation as “stewards of the Mystery” and not merely “teachers of doctrine”. On-going tutorial sessions will be offered to help catechist craft their own reflection papers aimed at reshaping their vision of catechetical ministry in their respective parishes. Upon completion of the course, the Catechetical Office will issue certification to each catechist coordinator.

Those catechists in attendance described the opening session of the new course as interactive and stimulating. The Catechetical Office will be offering the course again in the second half of the year for those parishes who were not able to send their coordinators or for those parishes that want to send a few more from their catechetical team for training.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A New Liturgical Year

As I entered church two Sundays ago, I was awakened by the new 2010 hymnal, the Year C Sunday missal and the lighting of the first Advent candle during Mass. These are realization of a new cycle, the liturgical year C has arrived!

In the liturgical year the various aspects of the one Paschal mystery unfold. This is also the case with the cycle of feasts surrounding the mystery of the incarnation (Annunciation, Christmas, Epiphany). They commemorate the beginning of our salvation and communicate to us the first fruits of the Paschal mystery. (CCC 1171)

I suddenly have the urgency to start planning and list down my resolutions for 2010. To help me get organized and started, I need physical or visible aids like dairy, calendar, planner, electronic organizer etc to help me remember the important dates or specific events throughout the year. A very useful item which came in handy to incorporate my spiritual activities into my daily life is the poster size Liturgical Calendar designed by our Catechetical Office.

As catechists, it is an ideal tool to plan our catechism lessons in line with the Church’s liturgy and pass on the faith to our young through the biblical stories of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection as well as acquaint them to the biblical models like our blessed mother Mary and the saints.

For the faithful, it serves as a visual aid and reminder to meditate on the great events of the salvation history and re-live them in the “today” of the Church’s liturgy. As such, I strongly recommend that the Liturgical Calendar be an item that every family should possess.

From the time of the Mosaic law, the People of God have observed fixed feasts, beginning with Passover, to commemorate the astonishing actions of the Saviour God, to give him thanks for them, to perpetuate their remembrance, and to teach new generations to conform their conduct to them. In the age of the Church, between the Passover of Christ already accomplished once for all, and its consummation in the kingdom of God, the liturgy celebrated on fixed days bears the imprint of the newness of the mystery of Christ. (CCC 1164)

The Liturgical Calendar is available at SPI or selected Catholic bookstores.
For enquiries, please visit or call:
Singapore Pastoral Institute, 2 Highland Road, #02-02
Tel: 6858-3011 Fax: 6858-2011 Email:


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A break from God's work

As a catechist, I always look forward to this time of break every year. If you have noticed, our church suddenly becomes quieter because catechism classes had closed for the year and many of our young and their families have gone overseas.

I seem to have a lot of “free” time even though my daily work carries on as usual. Maybe this is because I do not have to worry about the lesson plans for catechism class and also I can wake up anytime I like on Sundays as long as I am in time for Mass. In a way, it is resting from God’s work but not resting from God.

God’s action is the model for human action. If God “rested and was refreshed” on the seventh day, man too ought to “rest” and should let others, especially the poor, “be refreshed”. The Sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money. (CCC 2172)

If you have no plans to travel abroad for sight-seeing or shopping, a spiritual retreat is one way where you can experience holiness and be refreshed. A silent retreat allows us to slow down from all the hectic secular activities and engage God through prayers and silence. A very effective form of prayer that is practised in this kind of retreat is Meditation.

Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further: to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him. (CCC 2708)

Perhaps you would also like to take this time-off from God’s work to read “The Seven Daily Habits of Holy Apostolic People” by Fr John McCloskey which offers some ways to achieve holiness. The seven daily habits that Fr John McCloskey proposed are the morning offering, spiritual reading (New Testament and a spiritual book), the Holy Rosary, Holy Mass and Communion, at least fifteen minutes of mental prayer, the recitation of the Angelus at noon, and a brief examination of conscience at night. It is important to note that incorporating all the seven habits in our daily routine is a gradual process and attempting to adopt them in haste usually results in failure. As such, I encourage you to go online and spend some time to read the article before examining the seven habits. Click here to access the article.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Media Literacy for catechists/faith formators

The influence of Media in our modern society cannot be ignored and if used correctly can act as an important vehicle in the communication of our faith.

The CCC states:
The information provided by the media is at the service of the common good. Society has a right to information based on truth, freedom, justice and solidarity:

The proper exercise of this right demands that the content of the communication be true and – within the limits set by justice and charity – complete. Further, it should be communicated honestly and properly. This means that in the gathering and in the publication of news the moral law and the legitimate rights and dignity of man should be upheld. (CCC 2494)

CANA has invited Sr Rose Pacatte, FSP, the director of the Pauline Centre for Media Studies in Culver City California to speak specially to catechists on two topics. Her primary work is media literacy education for parents and teachers within the context of culture, education and faith formation. Sr. Rose is an award-winning writer, contributor and columnist for several magazines, author of several books, member of jury on film festival, and frequent presenter at conferences related to media and media education. Her books include LIGHTS, CAMERA…FAITH! Media Mindfulness and Educating Teens about Faith and Media.

1. Media Spirituality for Catechists & Faith Formators
Saturday 10 October 2.00 – 3.45pm
Venue: CAEC Auditorium

2. How to be a Media Savvy Catechist & Faith Formators
in 10 easy steps
Saturday 10 October 4.15 – 6.00pm
Venue: CAEC Auditorium

Catechists are encouraged to attend these courses for a better understanding on the application of Media to catechesis and impart the proper usage of the same to our youth.

For more information, please refer to attached Registration Form or contact CANA:
Tel: 6336-4815/6336-4467
Fax: 6336-5379

Saturday, August 15, 2009


The CCC states that

“The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as a combination of sacred music and words, it forms a necessary or integral part of solemn liturgy.” (CCC 1156)

This combination of music (which speak to the heart) and words (which the intellect comprehends) is why St. Augustine said “He who sings prays twice.” Why does the Church insist that the eucharist is the highest form of Christian prayer? Because it is in the eucharist that words and music are given their ultimate expression though the liturgical gestures of the entire People of God.

Every Sunday as we enter into the Eucharistic celebration, we use all three dimension of our being – head, heart and hands - to give expression to Christ working in the Presider, His Word, The Assembly, the Eucharistic sacrifice, starting with the Processional song, the Kyrie (Lord have mercy), the Gloria, the Responsorial Psalm, the Gospel Acclamation (Alleluia), the Preparation of the Gifts, the Holy, Holy…, the Memorial Acclamation (Christ has died,…) the Amen, the Our Father, Lamb of God, the Communion song and concluding with the Recessional song.

Can you remember all the different liturgical gestures that go with the music and the words of the eucharist? Can you see how it is important that the music be truly liturgical in that it incarnates what we profess and sing?

As catechists, it is our duty to help our youth to appreciate this musical tradition of the Church by introducing and encouraging the singing of authentic liturgical hymns during the weekend catechism classes.

A good example of how the mood and theme of the liturgical season can be beautifully captured is found in the lyrics of the song “As I Have Done For You” by Dan Schutte. This song is most appropriately sung during the “Washing of Feet” at the Holy Thursday Mass. It can also be extended to be used for our lesson on the “The Last Supper”.

Music during catechism classes not only reminds students of its importance during the liturgical celebration but it also offers them a direct encounter with the living Christ when done well. The CCC records the effect it had on the young St. Augustine when he was thirsting for the Truth beyond what his intellect had already perceived.

How I wept, deeply moved by your hymns, songs, and the voices that echoed through your Church! What emotion I experienced in them! Those sounds flowed into my ears distilling the truth in my heart. A feeling of devotion surged within me, and tears streamed down my face - tears that did me good. (CCC 1158)

Let us strive to bring back into our catechism classes and our Catholic liturgy what the CCC calls the 'harmony of signs (song, music, words and actions)'. Indeed the CCC recommends that in order to do foster proper liturgical music

The texts intended to be sung must always be in conformity with Catholic doctrine. Indeed they should be drawn chiefly from the Sacred Scripture and from liturgical sources. (CCC 1158)

As Catechist this will require on our part a strong conviction and experience of the power of the Church’s liturgical life to bring us into an encounter with the living God!


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Feast of St Ignatius of Loyola

Anima Christi
Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Separated from Thee let me never be
From the malignant enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bid me come unto Thee
That with thy saints I may praise Thee
Forever and ever

How does this prayer speak to the modern mind? The Catechism reminds us that each time we utter a prayer, it is Jesus' teaching about our Father's providence. Each time we pray, it is for the 'here' and 'now', not yesterday nor tomorrow (CCC 2659). O What great comfort as this reminds us ultimately that during the hustle and bustle of our day's load, all in God's hands, whether we are aware of it or not.