SJA helps people ‘find real answers’

“Much of the negative attitude among Malaysians today can be understood through the ‘broken windows’ effect – where the sense that no one cares perpetuates further indifference and negativity. This is visible when looking at the social condition and facilities around low-cost housing.”

Raymund Jagan, in his intervention during the Pastoral Spiral session, gave a comprehensive overview of the various social issues affecting children, youth, families and the poor, and talked about their root causes and challenges across diverse age groups within Malaysian society. He was the first speaker at the Pastoral Spiral session organised online by Caritas Malaysia on Saturday, April 24, 2021. Raymund is an accredited counsellor and lecturer in the Diploma in Social Work course at Methodist College, Kuala Lumpur, and used to work with the Welfare Service Department for 30 years.

The next speaker, Alex Arokiam, introduced the 45 participants from Sabah, Sarawak, Semenanjung and Brunei, to the See-Judge-Act methodology developed by Cardinal Joseph Cardijn. He explained how, through everyday contacts in one’s ‘milieu’ or world of life and work we can enter into the lives of people, create awareness and journey with them.

Alex has worked as an organiser and trainer for the National Young Christian Students movement, accompanied Young Christian Workers movement, and organised squatter communities. He has been running a shelter for homeless men living with HIV/AIDS in Batu Arang for many years. He emphasised the importance of finding out the real answers and not giving imaginative ones. He shared how he applied the See-Judge-Act method and responded to a truant student and a father who gambled, and stressed the life-giving outcomes of his actions.

Then Veronica Retnam, a PhD candidate who is currently conducting research on community kindergarten initiatives spoke. She began as a university Catholic student leader responding to the Church’s call to social justice. She shared her research findings on marginalised children and single mothers from the micro to the macro view and explained how they created a network to advocate for the needs of these mothers. Veronica shared about her personal faith journey in serving the poor.

After an active and refreshing panel discussion, the overall synthesis was presented by Charles Bertille, executive secretary to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference and Caritas Malaysia. He reflected on how all the speakers and participants who had shared during the panel exchange had actually been ‘doing theology’ in daily life through their faith reflections and responses.

These two poles, of faith and tradition and life experiences, are vital in living out our Christian life – while faith gives roots, human experiences challenge our faith to grow in understanding and action. He linked this to the vision of Pope Francis for a missionary, merciful and synodal Church – where all are called, by virtue of their baptism, to animate every space, every activity, every human relation according to the spirit of the Gospel.

Following the Pastoral Spiral talk, Caritas Malaysia, with the help of the resource persons, is ready to support small groups of people who wish to journey together in practicing the See-Judge-Act in their daily lives in a structured manner. To participate in the small groups or the CD course, contact

Caritas Malaysia is the official arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia (CBCM) and its goal is to promote the social mission of the Malaysian Church. It consists of the nine diocesan offices and the national office. Caritas promotes the social mission of the Church through its works of charity and relief, integral human development, care for creation, advocacy and social services.


Putting faith into action: a call to bear witness (Herald Malaysia)