Putting faith into action: a call to bear witness

“Much of the negative attitude among Malaysians today can be understood through the ‘broken windows’ effect – where the sense that no one cares perpetuates further indifference and negativity. This is visible when looking at the social condition and facilities around low-cost housing.”

May 01, 2021

KUALA LUMPUR: “Much of the negative  attitude among Malaysians today can be  understood through the ‘broken windows’  effect – where the sense that no one cares  perpetuates further indifference and negativity. This is visible when looking at the social condition and facilities around low-cost  housing.”

Raymund Jagan, in his intervention during  the Pastoral Spiral session, gave a comprehensive overview of the various social issues  affecting children, youth, families and the  poor, and talked about their root causes and  challenges across diverse age groups within  Malaysian society. He was the first speaker  at the Pastoral Spiral session organised online by Caritas Malaysia on Saturday, April  24, 2021. Raymund is an accredited counsellor and lecturer in the Diploma in Social  Work course at Methodist College, Kuala  Lumpur, and used to work with the Welfare  Service Department for 30 years. 

The next speaker, Alex Arokiam, introduced the 45 participants from Sabah,  Sarawak, Semenanjung and Brunei, to the  See-Judge-Act methodology developed by  Cardinal Joseph Cardijn. He explained how,  through everyday contacts in one’s ‘milieu’  or world of life and work we can enter into  the lives of people, create awareness and  journey with them. 

Alex has worked as an organiser and trainer for the National Young Christian Students  movement, accompanied Young Christian  Workers movement, and organised squatter  communities. He has been running a shelter  for homeless men living with HIV/AIDS in  Batu Arang for many years. He emphasised  the importance of finding out the real answers and not giving imaginative ones. He  shared how he applied the See-Judge-Act  method and responded to a truant student  and a father who gambled, and stressed the  life-giving outcomes of his actions. 

Then Veronica Retnam, a PhD candidate  who is currently conducting research on  community kindergarten initiatives spoke.  She began as a university Catholic student  leader responding to the Church’s call to social justice. She shared her research findings  on marginalised children and single mothers  from the micro to the macro view and explained how they created a network to advocate for the needs of these mothers. Veronica  shared about her personal faith journey in  serving the poor. 

After an active and refreshing panel discussion, the overall synthesis was presented  by Charles Bertille, executive secretary to  the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Caritas Malaysia. He reflected on how all the  speakers and participants who had shared  during the panel exchange had actually been  ‘doing theology’ in daily life through their  faith reflections and responses. 

These two poles, of faith and tradition and  life experiences, are vital in living out our  Christian life – while faith gives roots, human experiences challenge our faith to grow  in understanding and action. He linked this  to the vision of Pope Francis for a missionary, merciful and synodal Church – where  all are called, by virtue of their baptism, to  animate every space, every activity, every  human relation according to the spirit of the  Gospel.

Following the Pastoral Spiral talk, Caritas Malaysia, with the help of the resource  persons, is ready to support small groups of  people who wish to journey together in practicing the See-Judge-Act in their daily lives  in a structured manner. To participate in the  small groups or the CD course, contact [email protected].

Caritas Malaysia is the official arm of the  Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia  (CBCM) and its goal is to promote the social  mission of the Malaysian Church. It consists  of the nine diocesan offices and the national  office. Caritas promotes the social mission of  the Church through its works of charity and  relief, integral human development, care for  creation, advocacy and social services.

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