“We are each other’s saint-makers”: Colin and Madelene who chose to help young adults rediscover the value of significant relationships
Colin and I learnt we must not live just for ourselves and our families, but we must reach out, give our time in the community and in church, and to love those who need our love, no matter how imperfect our love is for them.
Our dear friends, Bernard and Ying, invited us to observe the CHOICE Weekend in 1994. It began as something we could do together in our catholic community.
“We believe that we have to do our best to bring each other to heaven.”
We started with taking small steps of love, to make that positive difference in those we love and those who love us so well or so imperfectly; those we encounter through a life of living in our community, our “larger family” so to speak.
In the end, it became our grateful, intimate encounter with our Father, because staying connected to the community and committed no matter the floods and trials, we began to see Him more clearly. Day by day, in so many encounters with people, in our struggles with love, we saw the face of God in that love.
Opening Our Hearts & Our Home
In CHOICE, Colin and I serve as couple facilitators in the young adult formation programme. CHOICE is a stay-in weekend programme for young adults between the ages of 18 to 35. The aim is to help young adults rediscover the value of significant relationship in their lives.
The sacrament of marriage is about a deepening friendship between a pair of best friends who, despite their differences, strive to love each other and reflect ‘the face of God’ in the world.”
We also facilitate in the Couple Mentor Journey (CMJ) programme since its inception in 2016. This is a home-based program for young couples to enrich their communication and nurture their love for each other to become who God meant them to be, that sign of true love on earth.
We are currently Council members of Choice Asia and had served a 5-year term as Co-ordinators for Choice Singapore several years ago.
Over the last 20 years, we have opened up our home as a venue for CHOICE prayer meetings. CHOICE young adults come to our home on a weekday night to break the word and have fellowship. It is not just the words we say or the experience we share with each other that is important.
Just as important, is their takeaway that although the lives we lead are not perfect, we are all “crooked timber” counting on God’s grace to empower us to love and forgive each other. This reinforces their belief that good marriages do last and that we do not just settle for the “it’s like that lah” or “it’s okay“.
Our 3 children grew up understanding that they had to share their ‘Pap and Mom’ with others when we needed to be apart from them facilitating weekends or journeying with a group at weekday meetings.
They themselves got to make good friends with our friends’ children and they grew accustomed to our home always being open not just to our friends but their friends too.
Being Each Other’s Saint-Makers
As a couple, we have served nearly 26 years in CHOICE. We write about and share our life with the young adult participants at the weekends. By writing, we own our commitment to love faithfully, as best we can as beloved sons and daughters of God.
In turn, when we listen to their sharings, it serves to deepen our amazement and awe of the Story of God – ‘Word is made flesh, dwelling among us as love beyond words’.
“We need God in our marriage to help us die to self, to let go.”
We strive to be a witness to good relationships with our parents and children, and with each other. And sometimes we fall short of “good”. But our faith gives us courage to accept our limitations and strive to be ‘Love’ to each other.
We believe that “what God promises us is greater than we can imagine – which is the full communion with God at the table of plenty when our journey ends here on earth.
We have to do our best to bring each other to heaven. We are each other’s “saint-makers” especially when we are called to be patient with each other, to die to our own needs for the sake of the other.
As a family, we make time to support the Canossian Sisters in their Myanmar mission work for children in rural communities. Each year, we travel to villages in a small state called Loikaw. We do a 3-4 day enrichment programme in each village, carrying out activities not offered in their school system – art and craft, science and discovery, dance, music and sports.
At first, we felt inadequate because we were there only 3 days each year. But we learnt to trust our Lord, that what we gave the children was hope. So many times, the local priests told us, “The kids will remember this all their lives, that someone who did not know them, had come this far, to experience new things with them.”
Our Journey Continues …
26 years of journeying with the community is a lot of years. There have been times we want to have more “me” time, take a break, retire from being involved with others.
“We strive to mirror God’s love, to be in communion with God and with each other.”
But one of the things we learnt is that – being involved in Ministry has to be less about the work itself, but more about the person behind the work and his journey back “home”. It is the being and not the doing that is more important.
In some phases of our life, perhaps other priorities crowd out our available time, but that is not a reason to leave the community. The community needs to make adjustments, allow us to do less, or take a break from the work, but not from community. As long as the community continues to help us grow in faith, that is the most important reason to stay in the Ministry.
Our prayer for the Catholic Church’s 200th anniversary
Dear Lord Jesus,
You are our companion on this journey and have made a home in our hearts.
May our Church be united as God’s family where troubled souls find peace, where tenderness, compassion and hope abound. We pray that we will act justly and continue to give our lives in love and humble service to others.