Our business was badly affected by the Asian Financial Crisis in 1998 and we went through a bad financial state. A friend who tried to help, brought us to seek spiritual guidance from a Taoist group.
Thinking that we may get a change in luck and hoping our destiny would get better, we obliged.
We spent our Saturdays at the temple assisting the Chinese medium (Tahng Kee). Jack helped him dance into his trance. Since most of the worshippers spoke dialects, I helped deduce the translations from the trance language.
We spent several months at the temple, but nothing got better. Ironically, it got worse. Watching some of the trance ceremonies affected me emotionally and made me feel very uneasy. When I could not take it any longer, I requested to leave, and Jack followed soon after.
Coincidence, or not?
By some strange coincidence during that period, I kept getting visions of a lady in a gown – appearing and then disappearing. It distracted me quite a bit until I chose to confide in a close friend whom I casually acknowledged as my “God-Sis”, but I never knew she was a Catholic.
She invited me to the Church of St. Peter and Paul. I followed blindly, not knowing that I was actually attending a Mass. Outside the church, when I saw the statue of Mother Mary, I suddenly burst into tears. This meltdown brought about a sense of peace and calmness.
Indeed, God works in mysterious ways. During the next two days after my visit to St. Peter and Paul, I crossed paths with several Catholics who hinted to me to seek consolation in Jesus and Mary.
The final nudge came at a 5am encounter with my next-door neighbour. I curiously asked him where he was going at such an early hour, and he replied that he was going to assist with opening the gates at the Church of St Michael, for their morning Mass. When I heard Mass, I asked him, “Are you Catholic?”
I had never noticed that Albert, who had been staying next to us for five years, is a Catholic. I shared about my recent experiences, and he mentioned, “Our Lady is calling out to you.” He then suggested that we speak to the priest at a church.
We walked into Church of the Holy Trinity that evening. Next to the lift was the statue of Our Lady. Again, I felt that surge of peace and I muttered to our dear Mother, that if she were truly reaching out to me, to continue to show me the way and help me out of this mess.
We met Fr. Richards Ambrose for a casual chat, and it was timely as he was starting new Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) classes that same week. Although the registration had closed, he made an exception for our family to join his class.
Back then, Jack had regular mahjong sessions every Thursday night. However, he shocked his friends when he said he would be attending church from henceforth, so his place at the mid-week sessions was replaced by another mahjong mate. His friends laughed, and were puzzled and curious about this sudden change in his attitude.
Baptism, the greatest beginning
Moving forward to 19December 1999: Jack, my three young children and I were baptized. We immediately dedicated our hands to God’s service.
Before our baptism, we had always felt lost, especially when faced with troubles. However, as a practising Catholic now, I strongly believe in the power of prayers because I know God is always present and is guiding us through every trial.
During times when both Jack and I were troubled – which we have experienced many times over – we surrendered to God and prayed fervently. Somehow, He makes things better for us, in His ways.
The next step was to join a church ministry to offer Our Heavenly Father what we have. As Jack and I prefer taking quiet roles, we chose to join Willing Hands at the Church of the Holy Trinity to help clean the premises and prepare it for weekend masses.
Willing Hands was made up of about 10 – 12 regular members. We spent an average of four hours cleaning the main church, chapel, columbarium, general areas, and toilets every Saturday. The group, together with the Art Ministry, also took care of the design, sewing and installation of banners according to the different liturgical seasons.
I also put up the flower arrangement for the altar and Jack tended to the garden, washed the compounds, and installed new banners when needed.
It is indeed beautiful to witness fellow Catholics praying in comfort, in a clean and beautifully decorated church. Unfortunately, due to an arthritis attack a few years ago, we had to stop serving in this Ministry.
Yet, in choosing to remain close to Christ, I am elated that after our family’s conversion, a few of our extended family members have also willingly accepted Christ into their lives as baptised Catholics.
Hence, in celebrating 200 years of Catholicism in Singapore, my prayer for us all, would be for unity, faith, peace, and harmony.