WELCOME SPEECH BY ARCHBISHOP WILLIAM GOH
SG 50 MASS
SATURDAY, 4TH JULY, 2015
SINGAPORE INDOOR STADIUM
Your Excellency, Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio to Singapore
Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong
Dy Prime Minister, Mr Teo Chee Hean
Ambassadors and Representatives of the Foreign Diplomatic Corps
Rev Fathers, Brothers and Sisters
My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is indeed a great joy to see all of us gathered here today, to thank God for His blessings on our small Nation and to pray for His continued favour on us in years to come. Thank you for making time in your busy schedule (the Great Singapore Sale notwithstanding) to share in our celebration this afternoon. I know many of you, including the Prime Minister, have rearranged your schedules so that you could be here to share in our joy. For honouring us with your presence, we are truly grateful.
Scripture says “With the Lord, a thousand years is like a day” (2 Peter 3:8). Fifty years is but a twinkling of an eye in God’s time, but it is a long time by human reckoning; especially when we consider all that has gone into the making of Singapore.
According to historical records, when the first Catholic missionary, a French MEP priest by the name of Fr Laurent Marie Joseph Imbert, arrived in Singapore in 1821, there were only 12 or 13 Catholics who “seem(ed) to lead a wretched life”. Since then, we have grown to a community of about 360,000.
As a nation, we have progressed from third world to first. Divine providence has shielded us from natural disasters and has given us visionary leaders and good citizens who have contributed to the development of Singapore. Today, we want to pay special tribute to our missionary and pioneering priests and religious, who have given their lives to the service of the people and Nation. They have been true to their mission.
Over the years, the Catholic Church too, has contributed much to the growth of Singapore; not only in education and healthcare but also to the moral and social development of our country. Indeed, the Church has always stood out as a voice for the poor, the helpless and the marginalized in society, for these are the people closest to the heart of God. Today she continues in her mission to recognise the new “poor” in our midst who are vulnerable to the threat of secularization, moral relativism, individualism, materialism and the negative impact of the internet and social media. Particularly at risk are our youths and families which form the basic building blocks of society. As stewards of creation, we need also to care for the environment, so that generations to come can continue to enjoy the fruits of the earth.
Singapore is blessed in that we have a supportive and responsible government; one that is not only visionary but determined and collaborative. We have a government that is secular but not secularized, as it recognizes the important role that religions can play in the moral development of our peoples. We are truly grateful to her for championing religious harmony, which is especially crucial at a time when religious extremism is threatening the peaceful coexistence of peoples.
Hence, it behooves the Church to work closely with the State and other religions to prevent moral decadence, to strengthen marriages, preserve families and to promote justice, peace and harmony.
However, we are citizens not only of Singapore but also of humanity at large, and members of the Family of God. As people called to be the salt of the earth and light of the world, we must undertake the work of the New Evangelization seriously, and do our part as responsible citizens and stewards, contributing wherever we are to build a gracious society and to bring the joy of the Gospel to those we meet.
Let our graciousness extend by sharing the blessings we have received as a Nation with others in need, through humanitarian and charitable missions. As Scripture says, “And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.” (2 Cor 9:8)
Let us continue working with each other, building on the foundation laid by our forefathers to make Singapore grow beyond that ‘little red dot’ to a beacon of light to lead those who seek truth and justice, peace and equality.
May God continue to bless and protect this nation which we call home, and grant us a good government and leaders that make it their concern to work for lasting values; values that are integral to the preservation and advancement of society and the world. Indeed, “This is our country, this is our flag, this is our future, this is our life, this is our family, these are our friends, we are Singapore, Singaporeans.”
Written by The Most Rev William Goh
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore
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