SMC plans to bring everyone closer together

St Michael’s Church (SMC) plans to bring all its parishioners closer together in harmony, worship and in good works, throughout this year through its theme, SMC as our Home at its bilingual parish assembly.

Jan 18, 2019

IPOH: St Michael’s Church (SMC) plans to bring all its parishioners closer together in harmony, worship and in good works, throughout this year through its theme, SMC as our Home at its bilingual parish assembly.

SMC parish priest Fr Anthony Liew, said this when addressing the parish pastoral assembly here on Jan 13, which saw 210 people participating. SMC priest in residence, Fr Robin Andrews, was also present.

Fr Liew said this theme was chosen because there was a lack of sense of belonging amongst the people, and a lack of volunteerism for the various ministries and programmes. “If the church is our home, why would we need volunteers?

“We would feel the sense of responsibility to take care of it. Responsibility goes beyond volunteering,” he said.

This positive way of approaching the people will also enable them to grow more in faith, and help them to remain faithful to their calling to serve Jesus Christ, by using their time, talent, money and knowledge to build God’s kingdom in SMC, he said.

He noted that during his three months at SMC since becoming parish priest, there was a certain amount of lukewarmness and wavering in volunteerism, to serve in different ministries and programmes.

“That is the challenge and reality we face today, in the church,” he said.

“Now after three months here, I feel very tired doing so much, but God has a reason to put us together.

“So as your parish priest, I am striving to do my best to make SMC my home, and as one family of SMC we can do this together.

“Let us not run from hardships although the task is challenging. Find an alternative way to serve and reach out to others in the parish for it is a blessing to be called to serve,” he said.

SMC is our Home in Christ, because it is a place of worship connecting us to God and the Father, and also where we can experience the love of God.

Throughout this Extraordinary Missionary Year (EMY) we must have a personal experience of God, meditate on the stories of the lives of saints and martyrs, attend formations to deepen our knowledge of church doctrine and do missionary charity, he added.

Fr Liew outlined the Penang Diocese’ s plan for the EMY, with the theme: Baptised and Sent: the Church on mission in the world. Formations will be held in Penang Diocese from Jan 5 until June 9 (Pentecost), and pilgrimages to the Church of Assumption from June 9 till Oct 20 (Mission Sunday) which marks the end of the EMY.

On Jan 20, there will be a launch of the diocese formations on Sharing Christ in Ipoh and Penang.

Registration will be ongoing for two weeks and there are limited seats. In Ipoh the registration centre is at SMC.

The Formations will be held from March 2 until April 13. For SMC, the formation be held on May 1.

Its Family Day be held on Aug 31. “Before going out on mission, we must spend time in prayer with Jesus and God the Father who gives life to the work of God.

“We must know more about God, and the Father, before going to others to do His redeeming work,”he said. He gave the example of the Samaritan Woman, an outcast, who turned to Jesus Christ for the “Living Water” that he gave her to bring her life back to God.

“Those whom we help, do they get to know about Jesus Christ? All of us are sent by Christ to the world. “Currently, the missionary groups in SMC include the Sahabat Orang Asli, the Wake (prayer) group and the Soup Kitchen.

“If they (the recipients) have not yet known Christ, then there is no difference between the work done here (in the parish) and outside organisations,” he said.

After tea break, there was the evaluation of the 2018 projects – such as reading the New Testament, and the Bible Exhibition at SMC.

There were no print copies of the parish assembly plan as Fr Liew said it was more environmental friendly by not using paper.

Instead there were interactive discussions on topics and suggestions made to improve the parish environment and atmosphere for the people.

Globalisation and Community: The BECs Challenge the Modern World
The Basic Ecclesial Communities, as the Church, is called to be on mission in the world. The context and goal of this mission is the establishment of God’s Kingdom in this world. It is from this point of view that we have to look at the modern world in order to explore in what way the BECs challenge the modern world in view of the Kingdom. The BECs, of course, can choose to live apart, unconcerned about the modern world, busy with their religious practices, reading the Bible and celebrating the Eucharist. Then it will be un true to its mission. The mission of the Church has been described as prophetic dialogue. The prophetic Word comes from the good news of the Kingdom and challenges the world to conversion in view of becoming the Kingdom. The Kingdom that Jesus proclaimed is a community of freedom, fellowship and justice. The Church is its symbol and servant. It seeks to embody the Kingdom and at the same time to promote it in the world. The Eucharist is its dynamic celebration.

Science, Technology and Consumerism
In order to understand how the Church and the BECs challenges the world, we have to understand what and where the world is today. We speak of the modern world. What is modern about the world? Modernity is usually contrasted to tradition. We should not confuse modernisation with Euro-Americanisation in a colonial and post colonial setting. The modernity of the world can be understood from three different points of view. First of all the modern world is characterised by science and technology. These are not totally new forces. The discovery of the wheel and of the number zero (0) were epoch making. But the impact of science and technology on the people and their lives in the last 200 years has been rapid and extensive. Science seeks to discover nature’s laws and technology tries to use them through its machines. The result of the explosion of science and technology is a sense of knowledge and power. This has led to the process of secularisation where the humans affirm their autonomy from the divine. If the relationship between God and the universe is that of a Creator who is outside the creation then a world that functions according to its own laws can ignore, if not deny, the Creator. Science and technology has given birth, not only to a world without God, but also to a consumeristic world. The human world today is full of machines that extend human power in unheard of ways. The humans can no longer do without them. From this point of view different parts of the world may be more or less modern. Consumerism joined to technology also leads to the exploitation of the earth and energy resources often leading to their destruction.

Democracy
Secondly the modern world is a democratic world. In the past the world was ruled by kings and their nobles. Feudalism characterised political order. Feudalism was further strengthened by colonialsm. Starting with the French revolution, democracy as the rule of the people, by the people, for the people is finding an increasing presence in the world. While a fully democratic country does not seem to exist anywhere, there are areas in the world where democracy is still absent. Multiparty democracy is only one form and is not the best. Eventually we should move towards a participative, consensual form of democracy. With such democracy will go freedom and a sense of agency. There is an increasing desire of the people for this. But it would not happen as long as politics is at the service of economy and commerce. Besides, the present world order is largely colonial in many hidden ways, economically and militarily, if not politically. The Church is not very democratic. It is said that it is not a democracy. It is not an autocracy either. It cannot be a majoritarian democracy. But it can be a participative and consensual one. It is so in the Eastern Churches. This could be experimented on in the BECs.

Globalisation and the Media
The third characteristic of the modern world is the phenomenon of globalisation. It is made possible by the technologies of communications. Contacts across the world today are instantaneous. The speed of travel and of the exchange of goods is amazing. The people can use these means to build a world community of sharing and fellowship. But the globalisation of capitalism can lead to globalisation of exploitation and inequality. The globalisation of the market leading to the globalisation of a consumerist monoculture is destroying the local cultures and identities of people. The market of goods is in turn controlled by the money market and money itself has become a virtual good, present only in the mind of the traders who speculate with them. So we live in an imaginary world. The speed and extent of globalisation has led to a loss of depth and to a globalisation of superficiality. The gap between the few rich and the many poor is increasing both globally and locally. The inequality is also seen in the abuse of resources. It is often said that 20 per cent of the world’s population use 80 per cent of its resources. It is also a concern that an unbridled use of resources may deprive future generations of their due, since some of the resources, like oil and minerals, are limited. A consumerist life style focusing on the body and material goods also alienates the person. The women are treated as sex objects. Children are abused.

Violence
The world is said to be getting flat. The young people in the call centres in Manila or Bangalore may be serving clients in the USA or England. But they are slaves selling, not their physical, but intellectual labour. Individualism, inequality and competition lead to open or hidden violence seeking to dominate and protect necessary resources. Even religions tend to justify such violence when their own identity is threatened and they also are used as political tools. -- By Michael Amaladoss, SJ, Source: Institute of Dialogue with Cultures and Religions, Chennai, India.

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