“Catholic education is more than helping our students to get good grades or to compete for entry to the best schools,” – Archbishop William Goh
Our Catholic education seeks to raise our children in the Catholic faith, nurture them to be morally responsible, good citizens who contribute to the moral fabric of our society.
In this feature, two students from Hai Sing Catholic School share their experiences of their Catholic education and how it has shaped them.
Teresa Sea Jia En
Coming from a very small family of four and being in a Catholic school like Hai Sing Secondary has taught me humility. I do play the role of leader in school, and just like how Jesus has shown us how to be a servant leader, I learn to guide and support my peers, rather than simply giving instructions.
Shaped by School Values
Some of the values our school holds dearly include charity, compassion, adaptability, graciousness, and integrity; I am reminded that God has made everybody in His own image and likeness, so I try to practise more patience and kindness in my daily encounters with different people.
This is important because as a student leader, I have to lead by example. I try not to get upset when people around me behave or think differently from me, but rather, respect them as individuals.
One of my volunteer projects with my school is a programme called WonderKids, where we help children from lower-income families. We interact with them when they visit our school, teach them to read, bake cakes along with other activities.
Even though I am more of an introvert and do not possess as much energy as these children, I am reminded that each time I help them, I do this out of love. Just as how Jesus loves little children, it becomes less tiring for me each time I see their vulnerability and want to protect, serve, and help them carve out a better future for themselves.
In one of the online masses celebrated by the Archbishop, I was struck by this line in his homily that all of us are brothers and sisters in this world. Similarly, Jesus has always mentioned, “Love one another as I have loved you (Jn 13:34).” I think that when we have love for others, there is humility as well as an understanding and patience for them. Hence, the most fundamental principle in my journey thus far is to love. I am also inspired to consider my future career path as one where I can share love and positivity, and make a difference in helping others re-build their lives.
Listening to God’s voice
During my low days, the first thing I do is to pray for peace and ask for guidance, that I may find the correct words to seek for help should I need to. I also like to do gardening when I am feeling down. It reminds me to keep rooted and be simple. Strange as it may sound, it is relaxing to talk to the plants. It is as if I were talking to God. They function as a listening ear to me, just like how God is always listening to us.
Whenever I talk to my plants, I enjoy the solitude. In the same way, I believe that if we sit quietly, we can hear God’s voice and understand the things that He is trying to say to us, instead of being the one constantly talking to him. Most days, even though such communication is not responsive, I walk out of the garden feeling happier already, understanding that I do not always have to be the one talking with all the questions or answers.
My Prayer for the Catholic Church’s 200th Anniversary
As we celebrate 200 years of Catholicism in Singapore, I pray that our Church will continue to reach out to the youths, especially those who have strayed from the Church, that they will come back to experience God in their lives. I pray to see greater involvement of youths in the Church, and as we grow stronger in faith, we will love and reach out to others.
Johanson Alred Conrad Joramsa
Having graduated from St Stephen’s Primary School, it was not actually my plan to spend a total of 10 years in a Catholic school.
God has the final say
I guess God has a greater plan. At first, I thought I had only two options for a Catholic secondary school — either St Patrick’s or SJI. I felt I would be uncomfortable in an all-boys school for another 4 years; hence I chose a co-ed Catholic secondary school.
In addition to being able to practise my faith openly and pray more, our school also helps us put God at the centre of our lives. The things of this world can sometimes absorb us so much that we forget that our sole purpose in this world is to live our lives for God.
“Man you are dust, and unto dust, you shall return” (Genesis 3:19) reminds me that this world is temporal, and once everything perishes, we will be returning to God to live eternally with him. This also parallels our school’s values on truth, adaptability, and graciousness.
Instruments of God’s love
As Catholics, I am reminded that we are instruments of God’s love for others. I once approached a friend who was really depressed as he did not get the results or class that he had desired in our streaming year.
I felt a stirring in me to reach out to him; I do not remember what exactly I said, but I could tell that he felt lighter and happier after our conversation. This would not have been possible based on my own strength or knowledge, but upon the Holy Spirit’s guidance, I ‘knew’ what to say, and was a vessel sharing words of encouragement.
In a nutshell, the most important Bible verse for me is John 3:16, “‘For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” This sums up the entire Bible. In the Old Testament, we lost our special relationship with God. But in the New Testament, Jesus gives us a father-child relationship with God. Therefore, I believe that verse shows us how much Jesus loves us and encourages us to share this love with others.
Similarly, our school’s motto, “Ad Veritatem per Caritatem”, encourages us to be truthful to God through charity, and this is something I stand by daily.
Answering His calling in hope
For me, God’s call to love is present in my environment — be it in my family, school and anywhere I may be in. I feel that whatever community I may be in at present is my calling, and it happens when you do feel a stirring within you. I may not have felt this at the most optimal level yet, but I believe that when the Lord steers, I will listen to Him, and continue to share the love that He has given me with the others.
As we celebrate 200 years of Catholicism in Singapore, I pray that our Church may be able to evangelise and draw more people to our faith. May we also have Christian unity and drop our prejudices against one another, Amen.