Singapore Catholic business people bearing witnesses to Christ even at work
Shepherds in the Marketplace is the motto of Singapore’s Catholic Business Network (CBN), an organisation with thousands of "friends" willing to serve the community and promote Catholic morals, values and ethics. Its initiatives focus on four main areas of working life: spiritual, social, professional and community.
Singapore (AsiaNews) – Goh Teik Poh is the president of the Catholic Business Network (CBN) in Singapore. Speaking with AsiaNews, he said that business owners can be the voice and face of Christ by embodying Catholic social values in the workplace and showing how they conduct their business with integrity and care for their staff.
Established in 2008 as a non-profit organisation under the auspices of the archdiocese, the CBN brings together thousands of "friends" willing to serve the community and promote Catholic morals, values and ethics in the workplace.
CBN’s president, Goh, a 59-year-old managing director working in the maritime and logistics industry for 30 years, highlights the prominent role entrepreneurs and professionals are called to play in their families, companies and communities.
"We don’t have to look very far,” he said, “to see individuals, perhaps within our own families or communities who need a listening ear or a helping hand to get out of a difficult situation that they find themselves in."
Singapore’s Christian community (citizens and permanent residents) is increasing, including Catholics who number 383,000 or 9 per cent of the population. Although a minority, Catholics are active in the country’s political and economic life. For this reason, CBN’S motto is Shepherds in the Marketplace.
“We spend a good part of our lives at work,” said Chan Beng Seng, one of CBN’s two vice-presidents, and who was baptised 15 years ago. “Living our faith therefore must imply that we live out our faith at work as well.”
What is more, "As bosses, peers, subordinates and business partners, we are called to be Christ-like in how we conduct ourselves, interact with colleagues, make decisions that affect the lives of others, and so on.”
"When others observe Catholics being Christ-like and acting out of love even at the workplace, we can be missionary. Yet the business world can present challenges, temptations, pressures that can distract us from God. Through the Catholic Business Network, we hope to help one another stay true as faithful servants or the Lord in the workplace.”
Trilion So, the other CBN vice president Likewise, agrees. A convert in 2001 when she was pregnant with her second child (of three), she has 20 years of experience in providing audit and business advisory services.
"We as Catholics need to be good witnesses at work,” she explained. "If our colleagues see us living Christ at work, they will naturally be drawn to what motivates us and helps us be who we are.” Thus, “we can be evangelical at work.”
“We can also gather Catholics together at work to pray together, or to help the Church in various ways such as fund raising, attending or volunteering at events or in church. This way, the working and business community will be great contributors to the Church everyday of our lives.”
CBN has established several platforms to connect Catholics who share the same professional background and face the same difficulties in the workplace. Its focus is on four main areas of working life – spiritual, social, professional and community – each with its own programme.
The group also organises the My Journey Series of talks by business leaders and professionals to share their faith journey and how they overcame personal and work-related challenges.
It also conducts workplace spirituality retreats with a distinctly business flavour to inspire and encourage participants to be the light of Christ in their places of work and at home. The goal is to show that there is no dichotomy between faith and life in the workplace.
One of CBN’s key events is the biennial Christ@Work conference in which prominent business leaders and speakers discuss how Catholics can meet the challenges of working life. (PF)