The Most Reverend Monsignor William Goh, Archbishop of Singapore His Excellency Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the Papal Nuncio Archbishop Emeritus Nicholas Chia Distinguished guests Ladies and gentlemen I am very happy to join you today – I am very very happy to join you today for this Thanksgiving Mass to commemorate Singapore’s Golden Jubilee. I thank the Church, and I thank each one of you from the bottom of my heart for taking part in the SG50 celebrations, and for being part of our Singapore community to rejoice together on this milestone for our nation. On this, our 50th birthday, we have a lot to be thankful for: For our pioneers who defied the odds and secured our future, including the pioneers in the Church who built it up to what the Catholic Church is today; For the peace and plenty that we have enjoyed for half a century, and the shift we have seen from poverty, to affluence, to prosperity; For our progress as one people and one nation, despite our different races, languages, and religions The Catholic Church has walked this journey with Singapore, contributed to the nation, and served our community well for many, many years, since 1821. It has brought light and hope to many, nurturing the young, moulding people into upright citizens, uplifting the downtrodden, succouring the needy, ministering to the sick, living your faith through your deeds, building a community with sound values and a sense of social responsibility, and duty and obligation to one another. You do it through your education ministry through schools like SJI, Catholic High School, and the CHIJ schools – the Convents. Many alumni have benefited and been shaped by the nurturing in these Catholic schools – some Catholic, some non-Catholic, and including myself, Catholic High School. You have done it in the way you help “the last, the lost, and the least”, through Caritas, which supports more than 20 charities, extending a helping hand to 50,000 beneficiaries. You do it with dads and mums of vulnerable families who find jobs through your employment networks. Because of you, children from poor homes can get school uniforms, textbooks, stationery and scholarships. Migrant workers receive legal help from the Catholic Lawyers Guild. Terminal patients, in their last days on earth, find care and respite in the Assisi Hospice. You do very good work. Thank you very much. One of our most precious gifts from our pioneers is our racial and religious harmony. Our Pioneer Generation lived through periods of strife and tension. They resolved that these mustn’t happen ever again in Singapore, and so they built here a harmonious, multi-racial, multi-religious society. Two years ago, Pope Francis called on people of all faiths to cry out forcefully against violence and war, and to rebuild peace and harmony with encounter. Indeed, peace and harmony are not just rebuilt, but also fortified, through respectful encounters. Though differences may arise, there is room and the possibility of compromise. Our country must always be a place where every belief has its own space, and a unique model in a world which has too much sectarian strife and bloodshed. I would like to thank the Catholic Church for playing an important role in strengthening our racial and religious harmony. You have been a responsible, reliable and sensitive partner, helping us to strengthen our multi-racial, multi-religious society. You have worked with us in the Government to manage delicate inter-religious issues. You have been assiduous in building up personal links and trust between church leaders and leaders of other groups, between Catholics and those of other faiths. You set the tone for all communities to live peacefully with each other. I would like to thank the Archbishop and also his leadership team for leading the Church, setting the example, and producing this good result for Singapore. In conjunction with SG50, I understand the Church has rallied Catholics to make religious pledges – pledges to share with the poor, pledges to express good wishes and loyalties to our nation, pledges to pray for our country and our future. I am very encouraged by the good response. I am deeply moved by your sentiments and your convictions, and I would like to thank all of you who have these pledges, for your support and your prayers. I would like to express my special appreciation to Archbishop William Goh and to the Catholic Church for holding this special Thanksgiving Mass I imagine when you think about a Mass, you think of a church, something like St Peter and Paul. I did not imagine that we would fill the Indoor Stadium. I would like to thank His Holiness, the Holy Father Pope Francis for his message to Singapore, read out by the Papal Nuncio. I would also like to thank all those who worked hard to organise the Mass. I received an email from one of my friends who was in the group organising this yesterday, and he told me that the Archbishop tasked them with this mission three months ago. They were shocked, but they held a meeting. At the end of the meeting, they were energised, and they made it happen. These were all laity – people with their own lives, their own jobs – but they mobilised, they planned, and volunteers stepped up. Today we see the results of their efforts. I am very grateful for the contribution of the Catholic Church to Singapore. We are a secular country, but as the Archbishop pointed out, many of our citizens hold their religious faiths dearly and deeply. The Government believes that this is a good thing, and encourages this. We belong to many different faiths, but this year, we celebrate SG50 as one people and one nation. When the Archbishop knows the words of the national songs and it gets into his speech, I think we are three-quarters of the way there. The Catholics are an important part of our society and your community will continue to play an important role in our nation, and I am sure for more than another 50 years. Beyond SG50, may the spirit of service continue to light our road ahead. In times of disquiet, may you continue to offer peace and comfort. To those in distress, may you continue to bring succour and solace. To all the rest of us, may you continue to contribute your spirits, your energies and your guidance to help us find our way forward together. Thank you, and have a meaningful time of contemplation and celebration at today’s Mass.