Monthly Archives: February 2015

Beyond Familiar Pastures

Standard

1999 was the year I was missioned to Sabah.  Arriving in Sabah, I felt I was in another country.  I didn’t think that I was still in Malaysia.  It was just so different from the West Malaysia I’d lived in all my life until then.  The culture, customs, life-style and languages of the people in Sabah are very different.

In my heart though, I sensed that the Good Shepherd was leading me to where St Mary Euphrasia would have loved to pitch her tent!

A folktale on rice cultivation in Sabah introduced me to this beautiful “land below the wind”.  Over the years, as I worked in our outreach ministries in Tenghilan, helped families, teenage girls, women and children of Seri Murni Crisis Centre, youth on out Youth PREPLink programme, and the urban pastoral ministry, I’ve found that it is important, sacred and most useful to be familiar with local traditions and practices, values, native laws, beliefs and the cultural background of our clients.

For me, this positive approach to the Good Shepherd mission enables me to relate with each person armed with our Good Shepherd values of understanding, respect, appreciation, patience, caring, compassion, dignity and justice.  As much as it is challenging, it is also rewarding, and not without its own surprises.  I’ve learnt a lot about rural, semi-urban and urban people of various ethnic and social backgrounds through the many relationships formed, and they have certainly given me a greater awareness and acceptance of the uniqueness of each person.

During the past year, I got more involved in the pastoral ministry in our parish.  I believe that all my varied experiences from working in Good Shepherd sponsored ministries have equipped me to continue my Good Shepherd mission beyond familiar pastures, into dark valleys and restful waters, led by the Good Shepherd Himself.  I can see that our mission of reconciliation is very much needed and appreciated everywhere.  My present pastoral ministry is very meaningful, hopeful, encouraging, as well as challenging for me as I live my Good Shepherd charism and spirituality.

Together with our lay partners, and Associates of the Good Shepherd who are also involved in pastoral ministries, our Good Shepherd presence continues to spread beyond the familiar pastures of traditional Good Shepherd ministries in residential care.

~ Sr. Teresa Chye, rgs  ~

Take Your Love Out Of The Freezer!

Standard

 Frozen heart

“Take your love out of the freezer!” these words jolted me out of my daily routine.

They were spoken by a young, temporary professed Sister with the Good Shepherd Sisters in 1979.  She would share with me the work of the Sisters – loving and care for the “marginalised and the rejected” in society.  She would tell me the life stories of the teenage girls staying in the home run by the Sisters.  I felt moved with compassion towards the girls.  The next thing she did was to invite me to a weekend vocation camp.  I replied with a firm “No” and gave a million reasons why religious life was not appropriate for me.  I felt inadequate for that kind of work.

She persisted and said to me, “Lucy, why do you put so many obstacles along God’s path? Why do you keep your love in the freezer?  Why not take it out and share it with those in need?” This person is also none other than my own younger sister.

For a period of time, the questions kept pounding in my ears and churning in my heart.  And in my quiet moments, I could not avoid them.  I was so pre-occupied with them that I started to ask myself, “If I were to be a religious, in what way could I help those girls?  Could I even be a religious?” It sounded so impossible.  I was happy with my life at that time and was reluctant to change it.  Yet, I felt that if I allowed myself to be led by God, surely God will make the impossible, possible.

It has been 30 years since I attended that vocation camp.  I left home at 29 to become a Good Shepherd religious.  Over the years as I cared for many women and girls, heard their stories, and seen how their lives had changed, I also witnessed God’s merciful love at work.  And as I witnessed their courage and hope in rebuilding their lives, despite the painful realities, I felt the broken bits of me being healed as well.

Today, I feel blessed by God’s intervention in my life.  Religious life has changed and formed me into who I am today.  I see God’s love at work the graces God gave to me to respond to God’s call, the many people sent to touch my life, even the life-threatening illness, which struck me in 1994.  I was then on the threshold of death.  Surviving the illness has led me to live my life to the full and in authenticity.  It was a passage to the deeper places within me where I realised both my limitations and my potential.  I was able to remove my mask and embrace the person that I am.

Now, I find much joy and meaning in what I do.  A friend teased me recently, “Lucy, the only thing you keep in the freezer today is food!”

I am grateful for the transforming action of God in my life, which is still at work today.  I am grateful to my own family, especially my parents, for their unwavering and unconditional love for me.  Let me share the following words of Nelson Mandela that have inspired me to keep growing:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.  We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others,.

~  Sr. Lucy Chia, rgs  ~

Part of An MNC

Standard

After more than a year working at the Marian Center, which has since changed its name to Good Shepherd Student Care, I embarked on my first ever “business trip”in 2006.  I made my way to Sabah, Malaysia.  That changed my notion of Marymount Centre.

I realised that it is not just another voluntary welfare organisation in Singapore.  It is actually a multi-national corporation (MNC).  Malaysians, Indians, Filipinos, Australians, Koreans, Africans, Thais, and more are some of my counterparts.  We are part of an MNC, bound together by the Good Shepherd Mission.

During the few days that I was in Sabah, I participated in the annual Asia-Pacific Conference.  When I heard the Sisters in my group sharing about their ministries in their own countries I was inspired as they were involved in more challenging social issues.  Through them, the Good Shepherd mission became more apparent to me, and I started to really feel the impact of the Euphrasian line, “one person is of more value than the whole world.”

What got me really excited was when I was brought to Tenghilan, a town about an hour’s drive from the state capital, Kota Kinabalu.  I was told that the Sisters in Sabah ran a student care service in a nearby village, the same kind of service we have back in 790, Thomson Road, Singapore.  Upon reaching the “office”, which was actually a room in a modest house near the village church, I was asked to plan and organise an activity.  I got down to my task with much gusto.

I was expecting the children to come to the house but no, we had to go to them instead.  I was brought to the community centre of the village, a big building with zinc roofing, dirt flooring and a few noisy fans.  The children had just finished their meal.  I was told that the organisers needed to provide a meal, otherwise, the parents would not send their children to the session after school.  The parents had no issue with their children roaming on their own after school, without the need to complete their homework.  It was so different from what I was used to in Singapore.  Resources were far more in abundance back home and what we deemed as important would be casually dismissed here due to cultural differences.

The Sabah experience opened my eyes and heart to take a more active role in our Good Shepherd mission.  As a lay partner, I am motivated to teach values through meaningful and fun activities in my ministry.  No doubt this experience has laid the foundation for my zeal to continue providing values formation to our children in Goode Shepherd Student Care Centre.

~ Shirley Woo  ~

Partners in Mission

Standard

We joined Mariaville Kindergarten simply because we both needed a job.  When we were first employed to teach at Mariaville, we thought it would be just like any other kindergarten.

As days went by, we discovered that there was much more to it.  It was unlike any other kindergarten.  In fact, we became partners in mission with the Good Shepherd Sisters.

We found the Sisters to be very compassionate.  And respect is shown to all staff members as individual persons.  They are also very open about the mission they are engaged in.

The compassion and zeal shown by the Sisters and other lay partners to the less fortunate have opened our eyes to the sufferings of the world.  This has led us to be thankful and grateful for who we are, and what we have.

Their willingness to share, and the opportunity for us to be part of the mission, has encouraged us to be more caring and compassionate too.  It also helps us to be persons of integrity.

We thank God for bringing us to Mariaville and the opportunity to be part of the Good Shepherd mission.

~ Sandy Ng and Hannah Chan  ~

Love and Hope

Standard

I am a teacher by profession.  I started my teaching career in 1995, working at various educational institutions, including government schools.  During those years of teaching, I came across many suffering children who lacked the means to continue their education.  I had tried to support them, to the best of my ability, to further their studies.

In 2008, I had the opportunity to join Mariaville Kindergarten in Ipoh.  Since then, I have come to understand more about this voluntary organisation and its services.  I was particularly attracted to the Good Shepherd mission and its emphasis on welfare and education – the provision of child care and free education for children from poor families, shelter for women and children from abusive families, and social and recreational activities to encourage parent-child interaction and relationship-building.

I had opportunities to participate in other ministries through our kindergarten’s activities and projects, for example, collecting donations for victims and families of cyclones, flood and other natural disasters.

Here, I am able to experience Good Shepherd people extending their hands to the poor and needy, offering love and hope.

~ Paramasiry a/p Selvaduray  ~