Growing as a faith community
The work of JRS is inspired and anchored by faith in God who is present in human history. This faith gives form to the work of JRS, and drives its mission to accompany, serve and be an advocate for asylum seekers and refugees.
As JRS Singapore expands, adding more volunteers to its fold, a subcommittee of Prayer Warriors was formed to tend to the spiritual nourishment of its members. During the year, the Prayer Warriors organised several events, which included the more recent virtual fireside chats with Jesuit priests, as well as a thanksgiving Mass to wrap up a fruitful 2021.
The Prayer Warriors held two fireside chats on zoom over the last quarter of 2021 with Jesuit priests, Fr Alvin Ng and Fr Stanley Goh. The fireside chats were cosy and intimate affairs, allowing the volunteers to get to know the priests and religious better and learning what keeps them giving joyfully when times are tough.
Fr Alvin Ng spoke to the volunteers about his work with the migrants and how each volunteer is called to minister to them in a spirit of love. Fr. Stanley Goh, on the other hand, shared candidly about his vocation to the priesthood, prayer life and struggles in his faith journey.
“I was moved when Fr Alvin ended the session by informing us that he had to leave for his next appointment to pack food for the migrants. The food, he told us, had to be picked at designated spots on the margins of the forest in Sarawak, where he is based.
“I also liked Fr Stanley’s sharing about how his mother, who had reservations about his vocation finally gave her blessings for him to enter the priesthood. It was also inspiring to learn how Fr Stanley makes time for prayer by closing the door to his office during his lunch break to have some quiet time and spending about 3 – 5 minutes doing the examen every night,” shared JRS volunteer, Corina Sobrielo.
JRS Singapore was blessed with year-end mass celebrated in-person by Fr Colin Tan, SJ on 26 December 2021 at St Ignatius Hall. As COVID-19 and the Safe Management Measures have impacted JRS volunteers’ ability to meet physically, the Christmas mass presented a rare and wonderful opportunity to worship together as a community.
“Even though mass was held on a Sunday afternoon, when most people would have been feasting and celebrating the occasion of Christmas with friends and family, it was encouraging to see that 46 volunteers and their families chose to be present at this year-end mass to celebrate the Christmas season and to give thanks with one another,” said Karen Singarayar, a long-time JRS volunteer.
In keeping with its annual tradition, the volunteers also celebrated Fr Colin Tan’s birthday after mass and presented him with a powerpoint collage, chronicling his journey as a priest over the past few decades.
“It was a beautiful collection of memories for him and for those of us who have been around for years. It reminded all of us how much Fr Colin has given of himself to the community. We pray that God continues to shower His blessings and graces upon Fr Colin, so that he can in turn continue to bless all those around him,” Karen added.
To mark the end of an eventful year, the volunteers were each presented with a blessed collar pin bearing the JRS Logo, courtesy of Collin Yap, JRS Singapore’s Deputy Chairperson. The collar pin serves as a tiny reminder that each volunteer is part of the bigger JRS family.