Easter in Singapore: festivity for many new Catholics and a commitment to do better and better
The city-state is still one of the most fertile grounds for the Christian faith in the whole of Southeast Asia. More than 1,100 catechumens will be baptised at Easter. “This means an increase of 17 per cent over last year,” said Mgr William Goh Chye Seng. However, the goal is “Not to reach a number, but to spread the Gospel’s message of love and mercy."
Singapore (AsiaNews/ÉdA) – More than a thousand baptisms are expected on Easter Sunday in Singapore, confirming that the local Church is one of the most dynamic in South-east Asia.
In its latest figures, the Églises d'Asie (ÉdA) news agency reports that Christianity is the only growing religion in the country. Next Sunday, 1,127 catechumens will enter the community of believers, which already counts 196,000 members. By comparison, there will be “only” 5,000 new baptisms in France, home to 40 million Catholics.
Baptism in the Archdiocese is not a mere formality, and can take more than year. The Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults entails weekly meetings with other catechumens, trained lay people and a priest. Each catechumen has a sponsor for the entire period of preparation.
"This year, we have 992 new catechumens,” said Archbishop William Goh Chye Seng. “This means an increase of 17 per cent over last year. However, we can do better; we have to work harder.” Hover, the goal is “Not to reach a number, but to spread the Gospel’s message of love and mercy."
Davinus Thiang, 28, will be baptised on Easter Day. "My mother,” he said, “was the only Catholic in my family". After her death, he began to look into her faith until he decided to embrace it. “Even though she is Buddhist, my fiancée will be present at my baptism on Easter Sunday."
Practice is very strong among Singaporean Catholics. In an average Mass during Lent, it is impossible to find an empty seat in Christ the King Catholic Church, in Ang Mo Kio district.
The mass is solemn with a 30-member choir performing old and new songs. Counting readers, those who distribute the communion and those at the entrance, some 60 people are involved in the service.
In most of the city’s 31 parishes, parishioners also gather in the dining hall to eat together after the liturgy. For some parishes, the size of the crowds can be a problem. In some cases, they have had to expand because of more members.
Singapore's religious landscape is constantly changing. Religiosity is progressing, but so is the number of those without religious affiliation.
Between 2010 and 2015, Christianity is the only faith to expand, from 18.3 per cent came to 18.8 per cent. Buddhists are still the largest group, but dropped from 44.2 per cent to 43.2 per cent. Muslims also declined from 14.7 per cent to 14 per cent, as did Hindus, from 5.1 per cent to 5 per cent. By contrast, those without a declared religion rose from 17 per cent to 18.5 per cent.