“Catholic education seeks to give our students a holistic education for life and love; not just for a career, not just for tomorrow, not even for this life on earth only but for eternal life. This is the greatest gift we can give to our children. ” – Archbishop William Goh
In Singapore, our Catholic education seeks to raise students to be morally responsible, good citizens who contribute to the moral fabric of our society.
In this feature, two students from Assumption English School share their experiences of their Catholic education and how it has shaped them.
Ceana Joy Chalissery
I was admitted into CHIJ- Our Lady Queen of Peace when I was 7 but did not really understand the importance or significance of my Catholic education until I was in primary 6. I was impressed at how the rest of my school mates were able to lead in prayers and I looked forward to be given those opportunities.
Gratitude in Service
My wish was granted when I joined the Assumption English (Secondary) School. I was selected to lead morning prayers in school and was asked if I wanted to be a Lector. I was elated because I can serve the Lord. This was when I started journeying with Jesus, and I am proud to have done so for the past 5 years.
At the beginning, I was scared and nervous to lead and read at mass. However, I was supported by my seniors who were 2 years older than me. They were very encouraging and with their guidance, I could speak in front of large crowds and my reading ability improved. I became more confident, and this helped me to articulate well for my oral exams, national exams, and at debates.
Receiving and Gifting
Beyond my exams, I book and attend mass regularly. Attending daily mass connects me to God as I receive Him daily through the eucharist.
One key value I hold dearly is compassion. I seek the opportunity to extend my hand to friends who may need help in their subjects, and to others who may feel lonely and uninspired.
In today’s ever-changing society, it is critical to gradually form relationships and to communicate, especially with the marginalised. Indeed, God taught us to love ourselves, our neighbours, and even our enemies. Thus, I see compassion and love as fundamental values that will enable me to reach out meaningfully to others.
Fuelled by my Catholic values, I started volunteering in church as a warden. I moved on to become an assistant Catechist. I am motivated when the students ask questions and are curious to know God, to which I can help to explain and facilitate their learning.
My extended family, and in particular, my parents are the catalyst for my faith formation and in choosing the ministry I am called to serve. In fact, my dad was a Catechist in his younger days. My cousins who live overseas shared how they have examinations for their Catechism classes too. While we do not have such exams locally, we try to make it more exciting for the students in their learning journey. We share snacks to encourage them, and we embrace the concept of community.
Back in school, I help my non-Catholic friends to understand and appreciate the significant events, signs and symbols, and activities related to our faith. Being involved in ‘Flag days’ organised by Boys’ Town and St. Gabriel’s Secondary also allowed me to deepen my Catholic identity. Asking bystanders for donations is not easy, but I endeavour to let them be aware that such small acts of kindness goes a long way for the less-privileged.
Serve as Christ did
As I reminisce how my dear grandfather passed on, it is my hope to be able to serve the sick and dying as a nurse in future. Though it was tough to see my grandfather go, I recognise that Jesus is with us even after death, and we should always trust in God’s plan and pray for the souls of the faithful departed. Empowered by my Catholic faith, I want to accompany the sick, the dying, the comatose, and offer them support and love. I hope they can see and experience the comfort of Jesus through me.
Gretchel Flores Orbeta
My parents and a few of their siblings migrated to Singapore back in the 1900s, while my sister and I were born in Singapore. Although I was not in a Catholic school for my primary education, I chose to attend the Assumption English School (AES) for my Secondary education.
Greater spirituality in a Catholic School
Beyond the prayer room where we can spend quiet moments, the school environment is lively and makes my soul feel alive and renewed. I feel protected spiritually because the crucifix reminds me of God’s presence. This is important for my faith.
In a Catholic school, we discuss regularly about God and engage in many faith activities. We partake in ‘Faith Alive’ sessions every Friday and welcome our non-Catholic friends to do so too.
As a Young Montfortian Associate (YMA) president myself, I was called to lead the students in activities so that they have the opportunity to know more about God. Despite the stress in my responsibilities, I know that God will not judge me based on my faults, but instead, always be present to guide me.
Love is an important virtue to me, as exemplified by how God loves us. Recounting the movie “The Passion of Christ”, I am grateful for Jesus’ sacrificial love for us. Through his suffering and pain, I learn not to complain about my little inconveniences, but to be appreciative of the things I have instead.
Beyond being more aware about my leadership responsibilities as a YMA president, I try to show love through my words, actions and deeds. For example, I tell my parents I love them not only verbally, but also by helping with household chores.
In the same way, I show my schoolmates care by sharing my homily takeaways and personal encounters with them. Be it challenges or sacrifices, I trust that God will prompt me to go where He guides my heart to because He loves, and forgives us, so long as we choose to repent and keep close to Him.
As we celebrate our Catholic Church’s 200th anniversary, I thank God for His many blessings bestowed upon us. I know He loves us and in return, we shall show our love for Him though our own little ways. Enlighten us, Lord, with your wisdom to keep our faith going. May Our Lady of Assumption and St Louis-Marie de Monfort also pray for us. This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.