SPEECH BY HIS GRACE, ARCHBISHOP WILLIAM GOH,
ON THE OCCASION OF THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF AGAPE VILLAGE,
SATURDAY, 21 NOVEMBER, 2015
Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Social and Family Development,
Your Excellency, Mr Rogelio Granguillhome, Ambassador for Mexico,
Ms Janet Ang, Chairman of Caritas Singapore,
Friends, collaborators, benefactors and guests
It is with great joy that we gather here this morning to realize a dream come true. Agape Village was conceived by some members of the Catholic community and given full support by Archbishop Emeritus Nicholas Chia. Indeed, we have been blessed to have many Catholics who have the passion and heart for the poor and the underprivileged. Filled with the love of Christ, they who have received the love and mercy of Christ seek to express their love for Him through works of charity and mercy. By so doing, they are fulfilling the mission of the Church which is to proclaim the Good News to the poor. Indeed, the social mission of the Church is also a spiritual mission because our intention is to reveal the love of God for all of humanity.
This social service hub is rightly called, “Agape Village” because it is born of love, built with love and in the service of love. It is to be a village of love, not just any form of love, but a godly love, a love without borders, without conditions, without condescension and without expectation of rewards. Only a godly love, that is, agape love, can touch people’s hearts and change lives, not only of those whom they serve but those who are serving as well. Love does not distinguish a person because of race, language or religion. Every person is precious in the eyes of God. Every life is precious to us because it is sacred. More so, when it is a life of the poor, the oppressed, the afflicted and the abandoned! The Church’s mission has a preferential option for the poor and the poorest of the poor.
My dream is that this Agape Village will be a household name in Singapore one day. And that all will know that there is one village in Singapore where you can find a love that is genuine, sincere, true, that cuts across all racial and religious affiliations. It is my hope that everyone who is here is recognized truly as a child of God and loved unconditionally and be assisted so that they could live their lives with dignity and pride. May this be truly a village of love and mercy! Everyone is welcome, especially the poor and needy.
I take this opportunity to thank the many people and organizations that have made today and Agape Village possible. Everyone has played his or her part so that it becomes difficult to really thank any particular person. Some contributed in kind, others in money, still others in time and ideas. Whatever form of contribution you gave is received with joy, gratitude and thanksgiving. No amount of gift or any form of contribution is insignificant. Every cent that you donate, every service that you perform and every act of thoughtfulness goes a long way to build up Agape Village. I thank one and all, government, benefactors, friends and all collaborators for their support.
Today, we witness the unveiling of Agape Village, the Village of Communal Love, which is just the beginning. The dream that I just envisioned is yet to be realized. We have a long way to go. Without committed workers, voluntary or paid professionals, and your continual financial support, the buildings and facilities will remain just a dream, hopefully not a broken dream. So I hope that all of you will continue to pour in your energy, talents, resources and money so that this village will truly grow from strength to strength and can be a true iconic village of love and compassion for all who need help.
Finally, I pray that social workers and care givers will exercise great patience, compassion, understanding and sensitivity in serving their clients. May they in the process of helping the poor, find the face of God in them and experience the joy of meeting Jesus in them. May Agape Village be “a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in their distress, a shelter from the storms and a shade from the scorching heat of life.”
Written by The Most Rev William Goh
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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