Thursday, November 16, 2006

S.A.L.T Anniversary

Happy 3rd Birthday SALTies (Saint Anne Life Teen).

Wow you guys are growing, hope there is growth in your faith and commitment to the group too. It has been so long since I visited you guys, but nevertheless I have been informed of all your activities. I am very proud that you guys are still going strong and I have been part of you at least for a year. As you celebrate your anniversary, it is a good time to review the group, the objective, and the activities especially with all the changes that has taken place and will take place in the church and also in the group.

A youth group in the parish is not just a social group; it has a mission to accomplish. And your name itself shows the mission, a mission to be the ‘salt of the earth’ (Matt. 5:13). We see this phrase in the gospel just after the Beatitudes when Jesus highlights the role of the disciples. The role of the followers of Jesus is expressed by the images of salt and light. In Jesus’ time, salt was used not only to improve the taste of food but also to preserve meat and fish. When Jesus compares his followers to salt, he says that they are to improve the quality of human existence and preserve it from destruction.

Wow, do you see how big your role is!!
As a parish youth group (young disciples of Jesus) where youths serve youths, you are called to teach and guide the many youths in and around your parish no matter what race or religion they may be. To improve the quality of life for the youths today, we are called to guide them in the path that Jesus has set especially when the world today is so competitive, materialistic and individualistic. To preserve them in the love of God, we are called to instill in them the good values Jesus has taught in the scriptures. And one way we can do all this is to be AN EXAMPLE to them, this is peer-pressure. We have talked many times about this and we always say that we should be careful of the dangers of peer-pressure. Now I want you to look at another angle; another form of ‘peer-pressure’ is to influence those around us with good values. Yes, this is being salt of the earth; an example for others to follow, a life of contradiction (to know what I meant by life of contradiction, please read my article entitle ‘the crafty steward’ posted on Nov10, 2006).

You have many talents and gifts; use them all in expressing God’s love for all humanity and your love for God. Use all the means of information technologies and especially music. Music is a good tool to speak to your peers and as I remember there are many with such talents in SALT.

As I conclude, I want to assure each one of you of my prayers, that you may be Jesus’ special disciples in Singapore and throughout the world – salt of the earth. May the prayers of Mary, the humble daughter of St. Anne be with you. Do pray for me too. Wishing you all the best and hope to see you all soon.


Below is an interview I had with the editor of the SALT Newsletter 2005.

An Interview with Brother Adrian Mathews Francis

1. Please share a short background of yourself and your pastoral attachment to the church/ministry.
I am from Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. This is my 5th Year in the seminary (1st Year Theology). In the past 4 years I was at College General, the Major Seminary in Penang, Malaysia. I came to St. Francis Xavier Major Seminary, Singapore on January 15, 2005. I was posted to St. Anne’s Life Teen (SALT) on February 13, 2005. It is a requirement for a 1st year theology seminarian to be assigned to a youth ministry in a parish.

2. Is S.A.L.T. the first ministry you have been attached to?
I have been posted to many parishes and had various assignments for my pastoral in Malaysia but SALT is my first ministry in Singapore.

3. What was your first impression of S.A.L.T. (the youth and the committee members)?
My first meeting with all the youths of SALT was during the session on February 20, 2005 (Session on Lent). I was just an observer then. I was disappointed with the youth members because they were not cooperative and were not paying attention to what the Adult Facilitator was saying. They were busy messaging (SMS), and talking to their friends next to them throughout the session. I felt afraid that it would be a difficult task for me in future when I had to lead a session in SALT

4. From the time you joined S.A.L.T. to the present, do you think S.A.L.T. has grown or changed?
Yes, definitely SALT has grown and changed. I see more commitment and participation from the members. They are ever ready to help and contribute. I have seen times, when the youths respond very well to last minute assignments. All they need was just a call from the facilitators. It is very encouraging to see this, especially in the Singapore church. The best part is that although SALT members are all very young (between 13-18), they can put the adults to shame at times.
As for the facilitators…I must say Kudos for their dedication and commitment to the ministry. They have sacrificed a lot of their time, work, studies and family commitments for SALT. They are also responsible for the growth of SALT. I am proud to be a SALTee.

5. How did you feel when you had to take on a role as facilitator to the youth as well as sharing and giving your spiritual input in the committee? Did you have a chance to plan and lead a session?
Yes, I had many opportunities to plan and lead sessions. I was very happy that I was able to contribute. It also helped in my own personal development and spiritual growth.

6. How has the attachment with S.A.L.T. helped you in your own ministry?
The attachment did challenge me personally and helped me overcome my fears and improve certain weaknesses. It also helped me to see certain gifts and talents within me, which God had blessed me with. The pastoral attachment too, has exposed to me what the “future” (i.e. Youths) of the church in Singapore might be.

7. Share a favorite memory or experience you had with the youth or with the facilitators.
My favorite memory was during the car wash on April 17, 2005. I think Br. Clement and myself started the “water” fight. Not only the cars were wet, we got everyone wet too. On a serious note, I think that our involvement in the car wash with the facilitators provided the opportunity to get “personal” with the members, allowing us to know them better.

8. If you were to recruit more members for S.A.L.T., what would you tell them about S.A.L.T.?
SALT = “Happening”. If you want to spice up your life take SALT, for life tastes better with SALT.

9. Why is a youth group an important ministry in the Church?
The youths are the “future” of the Church. The Church always grows but it never becomes old, precisely because fresh “blood” is always infused in her. And a youth group has this important task in the church to provide the “blood”. With all the challenges and wrong ideologies that the world feed our youths, they need a place to belong, to feel secure, a place to overcome all their fears and challenges. The youth group must prepare them to face the world and thus they will be able to change the world and make it a better place as how God’s dream for the world is.

10. Lastly, what would you like to say to the youth and the facilitators? What is your wish for S.A.L.T. for the coming year?
Youths – “Be not afraid” (Mk6:50) Cast all your worries, fear and anxieties on Jesus. Jesus loves you and He will not let you down. He knows how you feel for He has experienced it. Let Jesus be your “idol” and you will not go wrong.

Facilitators – Keep up the good work. Your dedication and commitment gives hope to the church in Singapore. I am proud to have been part of your team.

Parents – You have great “gifts” in your life and the future of the church in Singapore is in your hands. Encourage and help your children to live lives of holiness, especially to consider the priestly or religious vocations. Be an example to them as how Mary and Joseph, the perfect family of Nazareth were to Jesus.

My wish for SALT next year (2006) is that it becomes the most “happening” youth group in Singapore.