Singapore (AsiaNews) - "We want to assist the laity to relate their life and faith in a better way so that they can serve both church and society more effectively and meaningfully", Fr. James Yeo , rector of Theological Institute of Singapore ( CTIS ) tells AsiaNews. The academic institute opened in late January and is seen as a "milestone" in the history of the Church in the city - state. " Here in Singapore, the laity is already participating very actively in the life of the Church. Studying at CTIS will enhance this further". Already in recent weeks, there were 130 applicatiosn for the theology course, of which 105 were accepted. The vast majority of students are "graduates" and specialized. The lessons (pictured) kicked off on January 27 with a solemn Eucharistic celebration.
The CTIS is an important development for the
Church in Singapore. The local Catholic community actually consists of
more than 200 thousand Catholics, representing approximately 5 % of the
population (Buddhism is the most popular with 43 %, followed by Christianity
with 18%, 15% Islam, Hinduism and Taoism 11:05 %). The Archbishop had long campaigned for
an institute to "form the laity." "CTIS of course will not reject religious who
wants to study with us - adds Fr . James".
A few weeks since the start of classes, the rector of the institute reports that "both teachers and students are very happy and excited". He explains that the Centre "The CTIS was started not for the purpose of direct evangelization as we have another office in the Archdiocese known as ONE (Office of New Evangelization) that is responsible for that. It is an academic institution for a systematic study of theology. But indirectly I supposed any study will surely equip the person for ministry, especially the spread of the faith". CTIS "is in part an answer to the desire for many Catholics to want to study theology in a deeper, more systematic and academic way. It is a good sign for the Archdiocese".
In recent months, Singapore, one of the most advanced and competitive economies in Asia, was rocked by a series of street protests by immigrants confirming a gradual growth of social conflicts. Protests and discontent are a very rare event in the city - state, but the decline in birth rates and the gradual entry of masses of foreign workers has created strong tensions and imbalances. Fr. James confirms that "there are problems", that require collaboration between "people of all faiths" and "wider society" to find "the answers to all the problems that affect Singapore".
"The Catholic Church [in Singapore ] - said the rector of the CTIS - has always played her part in the development of society and will continue to do so. This is the social mission of the Church which we encourage all to participate so as to bring about a more caring and kinder society that respect life, people and human dignity".