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May Day Celebrations - 1 May 2024

Despite the Labour Day Public holiday (1 May) being a Wed, right in the middle of a week, an enthusiastic group of about 25 CFSM members turned up at St Joseph’s Major seminary at 9am in the morning to celebrate our annual St Joseph’s feast day celebration.

We began with a prayer, followed by some icebreakers, and in no time, we dived into our main programme which was a pre-recorded talk by Father David Garcia on the dignity of work. This was followed by a “See Judge Act” workshop of the talk.

In his talk, Father Gracia quoted from Mathew 20: 1-16, the parable of the Vineyard. Father explained that in God’s eyes, justice was not just about equality. In the parable, all the workers were paid the same wage although some of the workers started work later than others, so it was not an equal wage for the effort put in by each person. This contradicted the principle of meritocracy, which is often equated with equality for the same effort. But Father explained that in God’s eyes, God cares for the poor, the weak, the marginalized, unlike our society which is profit and productivity-minded. So, paying the same wage to those who worked less may makes sense to God, God may want to provide to everyone including the latecomers, work and a wage to meet each person’s needs.

Father Garcia also shared on 25 ideas on the principles of work, some examples being “work is sacred’, “work is a right and a duty” and that “work changes the worker, not just the world’. He also summed it up in essence, that work is a process of co-creation of the world with God. He concluded the talk with the message that as lay Catholics, we are the “priests” and “prophets” of the workplace, we are called to bring the good news to our workplaces. Serving God in the parish or ministry alone is incomplete, as we need to live out our Catholic values in the workplace. He also mentioned the somber fact on the chronic “sickness” of the church, where Catholics are not integrating their Catholic faith into their lives. We need Christian bankers, journalists, and doctors, we as lay people need to play out our Catholic roles in the workplace. Church life recharges us so that we can be filled with God’s graces to bring Christ out there.

The second part of the event was a breakout into smaller groups for sharing using the See Judge Act methodology.

Job security was identified as a major issue by all the groups. The actions identified and proposed by the various groups included ongoing ROL (Review of Life) discussions in Base groups, self-reflections to identify what personal actions can be taken to remain relevant in the workplace, to be realistic on actual needs as opposed to what is nice to have and to be grateful to God for what we have today.    

The day ended with a fellowship lunch, ordered and delivered from “Food Panda”. It was an opportunity to socialize and interact while enjoying the catered bento lunch. 

The event was a short 4-hour session, but from what I could see, many found it insightful and thought-provoking. We look forward to organizing more such events. 

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