Singapore Archbishop Nicholas Chia has asked Small Christian
Communities (SCCs) to be aware of realities confronting society and act
in the light of Gospel values "to promote goodness and eradicate evil.," UCAN reports.
Christian Communities deepen the faith... and build Christian
communities to be beacons to spread the light of the Gospel," the
Singapore archbishop said in his opening address for the second
Archdiocesan Small Christian Communities Day, held on Oct. 11. The
first took place in October last year.
The archbishop said the neighborhood Church communities need to see
and be aware of what is happening locally and in the world, "judge
these realities" against Gospel values and reach out to the less
fortunate - the poor, sick and elderly, the lonely and all those in
The half-day event, which the Singapore Pastoral Institute
organized, drew 180 Catholics representing 13 of the archdiocese's 27
parishes. The oldest SCCs in these parishes have been in existence for
25 years, while new ones are still springing up. The archdiocesan
institute has in the past two years promoted SCCs within in parishes as
"a new way of being Church," as opposed to more traditional activities
centered on the parish as a whole.
Father Patrick Goh delivered the keynote address at the Catholic Junior College based on the 1988 apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici (Christ's faithful laypeople), subtitled "On the vocation and the mission of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world."
The Holy Family parish priest said SCCs help to experience the
Church as "communion and mission," but he urged them to transform from
exclusive groups that gather for prayers, fellowship and meals to small
communities aware of their social mission. He also offered suggestions
to enable them to carry out their mission in their respective locales,
such as through reaching out to people displaced by urban redevelopment.
He encouraged the communities to get to know the people living in
their area in order to recognize, assist and support those in need --
latchkey children, youths at risk, elderly and physically or mentally
disabled people, and all who are marginalized.
The SCC day included group sharing on how the small communities can
better identify persons with special needs and contribute to their
Homemaker Joanne Goh, 47, started the Elliot Small Christian
Community in Holy Family Parish to "bring into the neighborhood a
practical way of living out faith." She has found the SCC to be a good
way to get to know people and have a more vibrant neighborhood.
Another homemaker recalled that anger prompted her first
participation in the local SCC. She went to share her woes, telling
group members that one neighbor's dog left droppings on her doorstep
every day that she had to clean up, and a neighbor above her would
throw dirty water down on her freshly laundered clothes.
The members of the community listened to her, offered some advice
and invited her to pray with them for her neighbors. In a matter of
weeks, she noticed a change in her neighbors' behavior and even started
to exchange smiles and pleasantries with them.
Another woman shared how being in a small Christian community in her
neighborhood had helped her cope emotionally with being the sole
breadwinner of her family, taking care of two elderly parents as well
as her children. She also thanked the community for helping out with
Wendy Louis, director of the Singapore Pastoral Institute, pointed
out to UCA News that "not any gathering of people that feels close or
has a common interest is an SCC." She defined the four marks of
Christ-centeredness, communion, mission and inclusiveness as necessary.
"We can measure our [Christian community] against this scale and see
where we are," she said, observing that some groups call themselves
SCCs but fall short. "Our aim is to encourage the neighborhood groups
to achieve the four marks of a true SCC."