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WritingI wish to congratulate the women of East Malaysian arch/dioceses for holding the 4th Conference this August in Sibu.  I am sure a lot of time and effort have been put into it to make it a success.  May God bless the organisers and all the delegates.

You have chosen the theme, “The challenge of Christian Families in the 21st century” as the focus of this conference.  It is an appropriate theme to reflect upon.  When you see the “signs of the times” today, you will agree that Christian families are going through tremendous pressures not only from within but also from outside.

As our society advanced, family values and lifestyles are greatly affected by materialism and consumerism.  Relationships between spouses, parents and children are gradually dependent on the use of modern gadgets such as i-phones, skype and social network.  Ironically, these very tools are also causing families to break down.  They find it more and more difficult to meet face-to-face.

At the same time, the notion of God is slowly being blurred by secularism.  People are placing more emphasis on the “here and now.”  The “ego” becomes the centre of one’s life pursuit.  Families without good religious foundation are easy targets of secularisation.  Some parents just do not know what to do when their children choose to be free-thinkers.

In a multi-religious society like ours, another challenge is to hold on to our faith in spite of being marginalised as minorities.  Some families are even led to change their faith for socio-economic reasons.

Caught in such societal web, the questions are: How then could spouses remain faithful to each other?  How could parents help their x-generation children to understand and appreciate their faith? How could today’s young recognise truth from falsehood? How could families withstand the temptations of conversion?

I pray and hope that this conference will pave the way for a serious relook at our way of being Church, a Church that supports families in dealing with the challenges in the 21st century.

May the Spirit lead you in your reflection and fellowship.

Most Rev John Wong DD

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