PICTURES

Archbishop William Goh encourages all Catholics to give the gift of love this season

Archbishop William Goh of the Catholic Church laying a figure of baby Jesus during a nativity scene at St Anne's Church in Sengkang. He delivered a Christmas homily at a Christmas mass there, his first as the new leader of the Catholic Church on
Archbishop William Goh of the Catholic Church laying a figure of baby Jesus during a nativity scene at St Anne's Church in Sengkang. He delivered a Christmas homily at a Christmas mass there, his first as the new leader of the Catholic Church on Tuesday, Dec 24, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN
Archbishop William Goh of the Catholic Church delivering a Christmas homily at a Christmas mass at the St Anne's Church in Sengkang on Tuesday, Dec 24, 2013.  -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN
Archbishop William Goh of the Catholic Church delivering a Christmas homily at a Christmas mass at the St Anne's Church in Sengkang on Tuesday, Dec 24, 2013.  -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN
Archbishop William Goh of the Catholic Church delivering a Christmas homily at a Christmas mass at the St Anne's Church in Sengkang on Tuesday, Dec 24, 2013.  -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN
Archbishop William Goh of the Catholic Church delivering a Christmas homily at a Christmas mass at the St Anne's Church in Sengkang on Tuesday, Dec 24, 2013.  -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN

This Christmas, Archbishop William Goh is calling on all Catholics to remember the gift of love.

Speaking to the congregation at the St Anne's Church in Sengkang on Christmas Eve, the new leader of the Catholic Church encouraged believers to be the "light and love of God in the world" through caring for those on the fringes of society.

In his Christmas homily, which is the first he is delivering as Archbishop, the 56-year-old said: "When there is love, light shines forth because nothing speaks louder than love."

He became head of the Catholic Church in May, taking over from Archbishop Emeritus Nicholas Chia, who stepped down when he reached the retirement age of 75 stipulated under Canon Law. As the fourth Archbishop of Singapore, he heads the 31 churches and leads more than 300,000 Catholics here.

Traditionally, the Archbishop delivers the Christmas mass and all other key event masses at the Cathedral of Good Shepherd, located along Queen Street, as it is the seat of the Archbishop. But as the cathedral is undergoing extensive repair works to fix structural defects and upgrade its facilities from October 2013, Archbishop Goh chose to celebrate mass at St Anne's Church to be nearer to believers.

He said: "It is also at the heart of a fast-growing Catholic community and hence an appropriate venue for me to welcome the birth of Christ together with my flock."

Growing participation rates in parish activities in St Anne's Church, such as small group communities and an increase in outreach activities are testament to a growing Catholic community in Sengkang.

The Archbishop will also be spending Christmas morning with some 196 elderly residents at St Theresa's Home .

The residents, who suffer from Alzheimer's disease, muscular dystrophy, dementia and other diseases, will take part in mass and have lunch with the Archbishop.

Catholics here laud the Archbishop for practising what he preaches. Said Madam Magdeline Koh, a 53-year-old nurse: "He's probably learning from Pope Francis and putting it into local context, being closer to the people."

Meanwhile, Diocesan Bishop Rennis Ponniah of the Anglican Diocese of Singapore, encouraged believers to adopt a position of repentence this season.

In his Advent message, he also encouraged believers to give generously.