Apologies for the lack of posts. I’ve been away for In-Camp Training. Going down to camp at the ungodly hour of 7.30am and leaving at about 5.30pm (by right) has been pooped by the end of the day… leaving little time for daily reflections (because I have to sleep early), and poor, noisy environment for daily reflections (because I have to sleep early to wake up early), and bad concentration because I’m tired because I have to wake up early.

Hence, I wake up an hour earlier to write my reflections before going to camp… which means I’m dead tired by the time I get home each night… hence the lack of posts. Time to dig into my storage of posts and put out those that I’ve saved for such situations…

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I was at CANA - The Catholic Centre the other day, waiting for my mum’s meeting to end. We had arranged to go for dinner at the nearby Kopitiam. They’ve got great naan there.

While I waited, I had a chat with someone I admired greatly when I was younger.

The first time I met him, I was in the midst of adjusting to a change of parish. I left the former parish due to a sudden realization that no one there really noticed my existence, following a car accident that put me out for a month.

During this time, only one person called me up to ask me how I was, despite the number of friends I thought I had there. I still remember her name - Candice Toh. She left the youth group we were in shortly after, and so did I. Of course the case of a couple of betrayals of trust made it all the more convenient to start my journey in a new parish.

My mother (father not baptized yet then) had already started attending Mass at the Church of St. Michael for some months before I joined her. Knowing that the parish change had left me without a community, she encouraged me to approach the youth priest at St. Mike’s, Father Erbin Fernandez.

I did so, and he brought me to Revelation. I felt extremely welcome there, and it was very different in St. Mike’s which was much cozier than it was in Risen Christ. So I stayed there for a year and a half. Unfortunately Father Erbin was transferred two months after I joined the group, so I never really got the chance to know him.

Following Father Erbin’s departure from the parish, the youth group gradually shrank since he was the main reason so many youth had come into the group. He accepted each youth for who they was - a child of God. So, in spite of the number of troubled youths from broken families, it was a good, loving community.

Eventually, the youth group closed down and I was once again left hanging. The new youth priest in the parish never really hit it off with the youths the way Father Erbin did. We worked to start an RCIY there, but I had to leave halfway because I had started university and became very active in the Catholic Students Society (CSS) there.

I found that I could not juggle both parish and CSS, along with schoolwork. And since I did not hold the certain kind of loyalty to the parish the way someone who had grown up in a parish does, it was not difficult to migrate to CSS for my activities.

Although I still attended Mass at St. Mike’s, I was unable to fit back to parish life after graduation from university three years later. I decided then to migrate once more to the Church of St. Stephen, where I was active for a year and a half in the Ministry for the Sick and Homebound.

It was at the parish that I met Father Erbin once more. He was staying at this parish for about half a year before going for his catechetical studies overseas. He really brought life to the parish in the short time he was there, inspiring its ageing and dreary parishioners and providing a voice for parishioners who disagreed with the parish priest’s methods.

I remember approaching him once when I strongly disagreed with something the parish priest was doing. He was there for me, once again, when I needed him. If he could have stayed longer, the parish would definitely have experienced a revival. Unfortunately he had to go and once more the parish dropped back to dreariness.

I stayed for a bit more, but I never really found my niche there. Eventually I got a new job and ministry, and I left the parish and the homebound ministry. It was fun and fulfilling, but I never really fit in completely.

At least now with my writing ministry, I have found my place in the Church. And it was good to meet Father Erbin again. He never really knew me, since we never really had much of a chance to get to know each other better, so he never really knew how much he’s done for me. But at least this time, God has provided me an opportunity to tell him, to tell him.

God bless Father Erbin. Our paths may yet cross again in the future!

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