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SINGAPORE SEMINARIANS LEARN FROM LAY SOCIAL JUSTICE GROUPS

Singapore

November 27 1985

Prison work, unemployment and Filipino maids may seem unlikely subjects to some for a second-and-third year seminary theology course.

Father Joseph Ho disagrees.

Response from 12 St. Francis Xavier Seminary students to an October-November exposure" course was enthusiastic, their course lecturer says.

Redemptorist and diocesan seminarians and a La Salle Brother student learned from lay workers from Young Christian Workers (YCS), Catholic Family and Social Movement (CFSM), Joyful Vanguard and the Catholic Students´ Society.

The course was introduced because weekly two-and-a-half-hour meetings were required for the new special moral theology course focusing on justice.

"Previously, seminarians studied social analysis in the classroom," Father Ho said. "We thought it would be more useful for them to actually meet people who are involved in working for justice in society. They can find out what the aims of these groups are, their history and how they work in the Church."

"Even as priests, seminarians may not get a chance to meet the national teams of these lay groups," Father Ho said, "so this is a good introduction for them if they should want to get involved with the groups later on."

-- Expressing agreement, a Redemptorist seminarian said, "The groups, especially YCW and CFSM, helped put me in touch with real issues in life -- retrenchment (job lay-offs), family crises -- these and other social issues which were not given adequate attention at the seminary."

"I heard about these groups," he said, "but never really knew what they were doing. Now I am more aware of their contributions. I feel this exposure program should be continued, because lectures should not be confined to the classroom and allowed to remain on a theoretical level."

-- A third-year seminarian, 30, said he learned of difficulties faced by some lay groups in their work, and lack of support by parishes or priests.

But, he added, he felt some lay groups push too hard for their causes.

"Either they were not sure what they were coming for, or they were making use of the meeting as a launching pad for their cause," he said.

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