The Mission Awareness Programme
The Mission Awareness Programme (MAP) is an annual event commissioned by the Archdiocesan Commission for Missionary Activity (ACMA) that seeks to bring about a deepening of the participants' awareness of what mission means and help each person to be more missionary in his or her daily life.
With the understanding that each person is called to mission, the programme will help him or her to discern what form this calling takes. Mission is a way of being, of doing good, of sharing God's love, of being the light of Christ wherever you are.
The programme will also provide some avenues for those who want to be full-time missionaries and allows many opportunities to be with local and foreign missionaries.
The MAP serves more as a formation or awareness programme than as a trip for participants to actually engage in mission work. It focuses on observations of mission firsthand in mission centres as well as sharings and talks by lay and religious missionaries.
The broad topics that are generally covered in the MAPs are :
* Introduction to Mission
* Redemptoris Missio/ Missiology
* Answering the call/Discipleship
* Social Situation/Needs/Mission in Singapore
* Foreign Missions
* Inter-Religious Dialogue
Monday, July 20, 2009
My name is George Chee and I am a cradle Catholic. I however began to encounter God only in the early 90s when we (my wife Celia and I) experienced stormy seas. We began searching and looking earnestly to God for comfort and help.
Up till then we took God somewhat for granted. We were believers, and we were practising Sunday Catholics but we seldom encountered Him except on Sundays even then a lot of times quite superficially.
We realised that we needed to communicate with Him and so we began to pray and by the grace of God, people (family, friends and strangers) started to come into our lives and some how with a common purpose.
They were advising us to do things they thought we should do as Christians (pray, join communities, read the bible, attend talks etc) they were asking us to do many things which we would have, under normal circumstances, refused. But now we were willing to go along, what have we to lose? We were looking for God.
From ’92 we began to join talks and prayer group activities and the one that we found particularly useful was the Life in the Spirit Seminar. That was the beginning of our awareness that the Holy Spirit can and should be an integral part of our lives.
Through a long lost cousin, we participated in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults where we eventually became facilitators and we joined the Rosary Crusaders where we assisted families to pray the rosary.
I joined the Bible ministry in 2000 to study and share the Word without realising the benefits. I got involved with mission awareness activities, like help conduct the mission awareness programs; participated in mission exposure trips from early 2001 and all these became increasingly relevant and real when God took hold of my life through the Word.
Together with Celia, we became facilitators/catechist in the secondary 3 Confirmation process in Holy Cross Parish from 2003.
All of these events were useful and important milestones in our spiritual journey. But looking back, encountering Jesus in the bible was the key to our discovery of him and what he stood for. Until then Jesus was just like any other famous person we know through the news. In reality I think Jesus may not have meant much to me, He had little or no role to play in my life until then.
The Bible, the word of God has really gotten us closer to Him – the Word and the Spirit have changed our lives. Has given us a clearer understanding of what the meaning of life is. Has made us stronger and convicted, has given us the courage and desire to want to share Jesus with others. The Word has made us understand our role as Son and Daughter of God and what it means when the Church said that we are missionary by nature of our Baptism. The Word has made us understand the importance of Church.
Jesus has taught us many things through the Word. He has shown us how He persevered in the face of persecutions. He has shown us who He is and His reasons for coming down from Heaven.
‘Studying’ the Word has cleared many of our doubts, about things of faith which is linked to life. Jesus showed us that it is okay not to be ‘successful’ on earth but so important to remain faithful to our Father in Heaven.
He has helped us to realise and understand that while it is ok for one to be rich, one is not useless or hopeless to be poor. He taught us the virtues of simplicity, humility and how important it is to be available to all, none excluded.
Jesus loves us in ways the secular world can never imagine. As people, schooled by the world, we would not have been able to grasp and appreciate some of these truth (more to discover) if not for us getting to know Him. Through knowing, we began to Love Him and this has made our lives and our serving Him more meaningful. Through knowing Him, we begin to understand what it means when He said, “I am the Truth, the Way and the Life.
Finally I want to share with you this passage which I came across the day I wrote this testimony and I believe that this was inspired by the Spirit. I hope that this will ring a bell for you, like it did for me. It is taken from Mt 7: 21-29:
[Jesus said to his disciples,] “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name? Then I will declare to them solemnly. ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evil doers.’
“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapsed; it had been set solidly on the rock.
And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who builds his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” When Jesus finished this words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
These instructions and guidelines are as clear as day and yet I dare say that we may never know the whole truth until we know the person of Jesus through the Word, when we become authentic Disciples of Christ.
I have also come to realise that the Church and Bible are like twins, inseparable. In “The Church” we celebrate the Eucharist, the remembrance of our Lord’s passion, death and resurrection and in the “The Word” we come to know the Triune God. It is truly, both (Church and Bible) or neither.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Please join us for an afternoon movie, mingling, making new friends and catching up with old ones at Holy Cross, St Michael's room on August 9, Sunday, 1.30-5pm.
More details about the movie and program are:
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
A life devoted to the poor, the sick, the forgotten
Directed by Fabrizio Costa. Starring Olivia Hussey, Sebastiana Somma, Michael Mendl and Laura Morante.
Running Time: 180 mins
Mother Teresa, a nun, who followed her calling to help the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India.
A calling that brings endless struggles, challenges many authorities including her own church.
For more info on this movie, please visit http://excerptsofinri.com/mother-teresa.html
1.30 - 1.35pm : Brief introduction of MAG
1.35 - 2.35pm : Movie Part 1 (Note: Movie starts sharply at 1.35pm)
2.35 - 3.00pm : Tea break
3.00 - 4.00pm : Movie Part II
4.00 - 5.00pm : Sharing
Please rsvp to Karen Forbes at firstname.lastname@example.org by July 24.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Here is a contribution from Wendy Loh of MAP4 and MAP9, sharing her experiences during her recent experience in Vietnam.
MY FIRST EXPERIENCE AS A VOLUNTEER
HCMC, DMI, BETHANY COMMUNITY
14TH TO 26TH MARCH 2009
I was very curious about my friend who had been doing volunteer work overseas alone. Wasn’t she afraid of being kidnapped, butchered into pieces and cannot be found or simply went missing?
In a strange country and couldn’t speak their language, she even dare to venture out on her own, not afraid of getting lost.
I remembered I asked her several times to let me tag along to see for myself if I can be a volunteer too. I also prayed that if God wants me to go, He must let me have a cheap promo air ticket.
A day after I prayed, there was a big star that covered the whole page of Today’s paper offering cheap promo air tickets by Jetstar for Citibank credit card members only for two days. It was in late October 2008. My friend happened to be a Citibank credit card holder, agreed to let me join her and also helped me to book my air ticket online which cost S$159 inclusive of all taxes and fees. My friend bought her ticket much earlier and she paid S$175.
So God answered my first prayer.
A month later, my friend told me she couldn’t go with me to HCM cos she had to look after a relative who met an accident and was seriously injured. That meant I had to go alone to a strange country which I never did my whole life. Fear overcame me instantly and I felt trapped. So, I asked God is this the way you want to help me overcome my fear? A bit too harsh, isn’t it? From then on, every mass I attended, I told God I am really scared, and I kept asking him “Are you sure you want me to go?”
I am not a TV person. One weekday morning, I happened to switch on the TV to watch news from Channel Newsasia, but it wasn’t time for news, it was a travelogue about Asian countries and that day its focus was on “Vietnam” and their popular “Beef Noodle”. Maybe it was just a coincidence.
A few days later, almost 12midnight, I couldn’t fall asleep, so I turned on the TV Ch8 hopefully some boring show will make me sleep. It was a Taiwanese programme about Vietnam and its popular coffee. Oh no! Vietnam again!
I was actually worried whether I can adapt to Vietnamese food. Now, the Beef Noodles and Coffee are my favourites. Is God trying to tell me “Don’t worry about what to eat?”
Last Christmas Day mass at St Anthony, Fr Terence asked at the end of his homily, “What’s the one thing you want to give to Jesus?” I answered from my heart, “Myself.” After receiving the Holy Communion, I knelt down and prayed, “Lord, wherever you want me to go, I will go. Just show me the way and guide me.” Immediately I couldn’t hear the voices of the Children Choir that sang the communion hymn in English but voices of foreign language, not sure it was Thai or Vietnamese. In my heart, I said, “Wow! God, you are really fast! You scared me!”
So, my second prayer answered.
Another Sunday mass, I told God I am still very doubtful if I am called, whether had He made a mistake as I am not sure of myself if I can be a good volunteer and many other negative thoughts in my head. In one of the hymns, this sentence “Believe and follow me” caught my eyes and I said, “OK, OK, God, I believe you, I will go.”
God had answered me a third time and from then on, I doubted Him no more. I moved on and focused on what to teach. Not sure of their standard of English, I decided to teach them Mother Mary hymns. I was then busy sourcing for all the MM hymns, zapped and put them neatly into plastic folders.
Mass offerings to help the Mother Mary church in Vietnam kept pouring in from those people whom I met in church everyday.
To pray for one with lung cancer, one with brain tumor, a few jobless, one with suspected breast cancer and liver failure, and a few for family’s peace and unity etc. Small donations also came in and one of them was from a man whom I have not met, a non-Christian. He learnt from my friend about me and he offered US$100 to any convent that took me in. All these were tasks I had to fulfill.
My departure date was on 14March. On 13March, I went to St Joseph, Victoria, to pray for a safe journey. At the entrance, a lady caught hold of my hand and said, “You are the right one.”
I asked what was wrong, she just gave me a blue vest and a number one tag and told me to move to the front pew. I answered Ok but my head was full of doubts. Later I learnt from the other ladies that I had to carry Our Lady of Fatima statue for the procession. Immediately I asked God, “Why me? Are you sure I can carry the heavy statue? Please help me, give me strength to go through it.”
Mass ended, procession was about to start, one man ordered Group One to step out and get ready. My first instinct was to hide behind the two in front. When the statue was brought out, the man commanded us to go “about turn”. Oh no! I was right in front, I felt my face blushed for fear of people laughing at me. The Statue was really heavy but somehow I finished the walk.
The question “Why me?” kept ringing in my head but I couldn’t find the answer.
The first thing I asked when I met the nuns was the whereabout of the popular MM church. They kept telling me that it is too far away, sounded to me it is impossible to go there. All the way from the airport to the convent, I asked them several times about the MM church. They tried to show me other catholic churches but I wasn’t interested. They didn’t know I had a mission to fulfill.
Settled into my room, I explained to the two nuns why I needed to go the MM church. One nun told me it cost US$150 to get there by air and the flight is about 1 1/2hr and that they were not free to accompany me there. She suggested that I can put all my friends’ mass offerings at a nearby church. I told her honestly I can’t afford US$150 but I will pray about it, if it is God’s will, I will be at the MM church.
Next day, No.1 nun, Sr Agathe Men, came back from Hanoi and heard about my intention to visit Our Lady of La Vang church (the MM church that I mentioned) in Hue.
Next morning, Sr A Men told me the good news that she will pay for my air ticket to La Vang. She said I should not be stopped from going but I had to fly alone as they were busy and had their own duties to do. I felt very loved that God answered my prayer again. I kept thanking God from my heart.
Later in the afternoon, she said that Mother Nun from USA might be able to fly with me if she can catch a flight to HCM. I said Ok.
At dinner time, Sr A Men apologized that Mother Nun couldn’t get a flight to HCM, so I had to fly alone and there will be a young nun to pick me from Hue’s airport. I said it was fine with me.
On that very day, Mother Nun got her ticket and she met me at HCM and took the same flight with me to Hue. Mother Nun was like a VIP and every nuns were so excited to meet her. I didn’t know her and wasn’t anxious about her but I got to fly with her and seated beside her in business class which she was booked, big and spacious and right to front of the aircraft. Wow! My first time in Business Class seat! Thank God for all good things come!
At the Mother House in Hue, the whole community of nuns were waiting anxiously to welcome Mother Nun with a big bouquet of flowers and songs of joy in Vietnamese which I couldn’t comprehend.
Arriving with Mother Nun, I was welcomed in such a grand manner at the same time. Mother Nun did not leave me out, she made sure I was with her all the time, to walk with her along the paved aisle to the hall where all the nuns were gathered as audience.
At the end of her homecoming speech, Mother Nun introduced me to all the nuns & they welcomed me with their loud applause. They were so happy, excited and noisy bunch of nuns. As usual, I just smiled and said Hello and Thank you to all of them and quickly passed back the microphone to Mother Nun.
Next morning, a young nun was assigned to accompany me to Mother Mary shrine. To my surprise, a Vietnamese priest also wanted to bring his old cousin and her daughter from USA to the Mother Mary shrine. Another Singaporean volunteer, Jackie, was attached to Mother House for two months and coincidentally, we were booked on the same flight back to Singapore. Thank God, I wasn’t alone, it was a big crowd and a spiritual director………… God’s plan and not our plan!
Once at the shrine, I knelt down and said, “MM, here I come with all the prayers of my bros & sis-in-Christ. Please answer them.” I offloaded all the mass intentions and with the help of the young nun who translated them into Vietnamese to the priest. All the masses offered were for Annunciation Day. The priest celebrated mass at the shrine for all of us. Jackie and the others also offered masses at the same time. Whew! Mission completed!
Back to the first day at Bethany Community, Saturday 14th March 2009.
It was my first time I went to a foreign country all alone, not knowing exactly where my accommodation will be, no contact number or contact person of that place that I can check for more details. It was mainly based on trust. A close friend of mine thought I was crazy to risk myself. All I knew was that there will be a nun to fetch me from the airport. I told my friend that A NUN is good enough for me to put my total trust that I will be in good hands.
At HCM airport, I thought I could easily spot my name at the arrival hall but no, there were so many names that I had to scrutinized every single name before I could find mine, held up obviously by two nuns. What made me trust them was simply they are nuns and we belonged to the same God.
At the community, I was introduced to all the nuns, young or old, sick or bed-ridden. My first meal was lunch. All the young nuns helped to set up all the tables for lunch. 11.30am sharp, all gathered together to say their prayers before meal. A young nun was assigned to serve at our table like a waitress in a restaurant. I felt bad and I asked Sr Teresia Yen why made the young nun do all these, why not let her have her meal and I was there to serve and not to be served; in Singapore, this is child abuse. Sr Yen laughed and said that they are training the young nuns to serve, respect and take care of their parents when they go home and also to be able to survive in the service industry should they decided to go out to the world to make a living.
Dinner was at 6.30pm sharp. All were very punctual. So many of them and they can make it for dinner together. My family of four, hardly had a meal together in a week. The nuns are equally busy with morning prayers and mass, 45mins motorcycle ride to school and 45mins back to the community, house chores, school homework, evening prayers, hymns and Readings practices for mass everyday and Sunday.
First evening after dinner, I was put in front of all the nuns to talk about myself, my family and my country. I was very scared and my heart was beating very fast but not as bad as the night before when I had to face such a big crowd carrying the Lady Fatima statue. MM prepared me for this evening?
Second day was Sunday. Praise the Lord! After I had my morning bath, water and electricity were shut down. I had only half a pail of water left, not enough for the whole day. Sr T Yen felt so sorry but I said it was fine for me to learn to live without.
Subsequent days, I shared my experiences with Sr A Men and Sr T Yen as and when something reminded me of that certain event. Both liked my sharings and they asked me to share with the young nuns to strengthen their faith. I did for one solid hour without a script and Sr T Yen was my translator. I wouldn’t dare to do it in Singapore.
Every day, I was assigned with three classes. Morning class was for the older nuns, afternoon class was for nuns about to take their final vow and evening class was for the youngest batch of nuns. I taught them three MM hymns and to recite Rosary and the Order of Mass in English.
My last Sunday mass there, they invited an Italian priest to celebrate mass in English. At the end of the mass, the priest commented that the nuns did very well and that they sang beautifully.
After mass, four young nuns were assigned to escort me to HCMC to do a last minute shopping. I suggested to take bus out of curiosity. The bus has a conductor collecting bus-fare and punch a hole in the tickets like what we had many years ago in Singapore.
As the weather was terribly hot, I invited them to KFC for a drink. My Gosh! They didn’t know what is KFC selling. So, I treated them to the chickens and the drinks.
On the last evening, we had a celebration. I was served their self made grape wine which was very sweet. The young nuns performed dances gracefully which was choreographed by one of the nuns. They also presented me with a bouquet of flowers and a box of gifts to show their appreciation. I told them I had done nothing much to deserved all these.
At the end of the trip, I thanked God for helping me to overcome my fear and for showing me a place where I can be of help to others and the love from all the nuns that I didn’t expect to receive. I thought I was there to give whatever I can but in the end, I received more than I could give. Amen!
MAP4 & MAP9
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Click here for photos taken during our recent day trip to Melaka on May 18.
There were about 30 of us, a mix of MAG participants and from Holy Cross.
We were blessed with wonderful weather, smooth immigration clearing upon entering and returning from Melaka.
Vinood, our Indian driver from Luxury tours ensured we had a smooth and safe drive, while Eileen Tan our Malaysian guide, saw to our head knowledge of history of Melaka and guided us through not only the history but the food, culture and religions in Melaka.
Aaron from the core MAG team led us in prayer at the start of the journey. During our drive up, after Eileen's briefing on the history of Melaka. Kirsten and Aaron quizzed us. Many of us were rewarded with snacks which we were snacking till we stopped for lunch!
We were treated to a Nyonya lunch and then we started our tour of Melaka, first stop being Jonkers and after that Aformosa where we had a choice of shopping or visiting St Paul's church. We being a democratic group, we split - a group went shopping and the coolness of airconditioning, while others braved the heat to climb the 30 odd steps to St Paul's church to view the temporary gravesite of St Francis.
We ended our trip by having a delicious Chinese dinner.
It was a good day for all us - made new friends, renewed old friendships, had fun - eating, shopping, sight seeing and fellowship.
God bless, Karen