CSS FOC 2016 Testimony: Helen

I felt God so tangibly and this reminder of my own heart burning within me, two years ago, set the tone for me when I was planning for this year’s FOC, together with the rest of the comm. Every decision and step has been taken with prayer and intercession, which is beautiful as it is reassuring that we are following God’s plan for this camp and listening intently to His vision for FOC

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Above: Helen (leftmost) at FOC 2015’s Community night!


It has finally come to the point where I can say we are less than a week away from FOC! I really hope you are getting excited to meet your companions and set off on this great journey.

Stepping up to be part of the FOC committee was no easy task. I was very keen on being on internship over the summer and thus was afraid of having too many things on my plate if I also had to plan for FOC. However God still lit a desire in my heart that burned so brightly, that I could not say no, and so that’s how I ended up being in the committee as the Programmes head 🙂 Nothing but joy has engulfed me throughout this process of thinking, praying, and planning together with my brothers and sisters in the FOC Comm. Although there have been stressful moments, and also worries about whether certain activities will work out, God has blessed me with a calm mind and heart that trusts in His grace and providence.

I thought back to my own experience as a freshman attending CSS FOC, and how greatly the eyes of my heart were opened up to God. My last retreat having been my confirmation camp, I had a very hesitant mindset, which was washed away soon after by the small, but impactful acts of love by my facils and fellow groupmates, and the prayerfully planned programme of the camp. I felt God so tangibly and this reminder of my own heart burning within me, two years ago, set the tone for me when I was planning for this year’s FOC, together with the rest of the comm.

Every decision and step has been taken with prayer and intercession, which is beautiful as it is reassuring that we are following God’s plan for this camp and listening intently to His vision for FOC. Whilst planning for this journey that you, our freshmen, will be taking, the comm has been on our own Emmaus walk, with revelations about God’s unending love for us, through each conversation we have had and through each step we have taken. May this camp be an offering of thanksgiving to our God who is Love and may we ask, as the apostles did, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road”?


Helen is a Year 2-going-on-3 English Linguistics major, and also this FOC’s Programmes Head. We thank her for sharing her perspective on how this journey in planning the camp has been! Indeed this upcoming FOC 2016 has been a labour of love and prayer not only for the Programmes team, but all the other Comm members as well – nevertheless, there is so much that we have received in the process as well! Indeed, as Helen puts it so eloquently, we have “been on our own Emmaus walk, with revelations about God’s unending love for us, through each conversation we have had and through each step we have taken”. We truly thank God for all the graces and guidance He has showered upon us in this process.

CSS members reading this – we hope this glimpse into the planning process will plant a seed in your hearts to step up for the next FOC comm!! And most importantly, we hope all the participants know we’ve been keeping you in prayer for the past few weeks and can’t wait to meet you in 3 days time 🙂

If you’re reading this, it’s past the deadline for FOC sign ups… BUT, nevertheless, head over to http://tinyurl.com/NUSCSSFOC2016 and fill up the form, then drop us an email (ASAP!!!) at cssfoc2016@gmail.com – we’ll see what we can do. 😉

When: 27th June to 30th June 2016
Where: Church of the Holy Cross (Just beside NUS UTown)

CSS FOC 2015 Testimony: Lorraine

If there is one thing that I have taken away from FOC it is the family I have in the friends I made there. (…) Through sad times, bad times, times of disappointment and when I lost all faith and pushed everyone away, they were there to encourage me and help me stand up again.

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Above: Lorraine during a Praise and Worship session at FOC 2015!


Coming into Freshman Orientation Camp (FOC), I really didn’t know what to expect. When I registered, I registered alone so I had expected to see many unfamiliar faces and be an awkward wall flower because I did not know anyone haha. But to my surprise, I met so many of my batch mates back from when I was in CHIJ Toa Payoh and CJC. Instead of awkwardness it was like a mini reunion! But FOC was not only a time for me to meet old friends, it was also a time to make new friends and forge a community that would soon become so very dear to me. If there is one thing that I have taken away from FOC it is the family I have in the friends I made there.

Having went through a tough time in university it is this group of people, who I am proud to call my family and my community in CSS, which I made during FOC that pulled me through. Through sad times, bad times, times of disappointment and when I lost all faith and pushed everyone away, they were there to encourage me and help me stand up again. Without them, I would not be where I am today.

I encourage all those who are hesitant because they do not have a group of friends to go with. COME and you will see just how funny God can be☺️


Lorraine is Year 1-going-on-2, studying Life Science, and we thank her for the heartfelt sharing! Indeed one will soon come to find that the Catholic circle in Singapore is rather cozy 🙂 But more importantly, that we are all one in the family of God!

If you’re reading this, it’s past the deadline for FOC sign ups… BUT, nevertheless, head over to http://tinyurl.com/NUSCSSFOC2016 and fill up the form, then drop us an email at cssfoc2016@gmail.com – we’ll see what we can do. 😉

When: 27th June to 30th June 2016
Where: Church of the Holy Cross (Just beside NUS UTown)

FOC 2015 Testimony: Sarah

Through life-giving conversations during FOC and beyond, I have continuously been inspired by the faith stories they have shared. To know that we were all equally broken but clothed in the blood of the Lamb, and desired to know and love our wonderful God really gave me the strength to pursue my faith. FOC itself also taught me how to be a Catholic student, not just a student who is Catholic.

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Sarah with her group at FOC 2015!


As I began to reflect for this testimony, I was slowly drawn into amazement at how the Lord has blessed me with a Catholic community; one which I never thought I needed, but has proven to be an immeasurably great gift.

I was a cradle Catholic, like many, and my family used to attend Saturday evening mass regularly when I was younger. Unfortunately, it was halted. Being a child I did not think too much of it, but by some stroke of grace, I continued to pray.

As I approached my Confirmation, I slowly recognised the heaviness of my sin. I nearly left the church without being confirmed, as I could not bear to be hypocritical about my identity as a Catholic. However, by another great stroke of grace, my Catholic classmates invited me to attend a Penitential Rite that Lent. It was there that I resolved to return to my faith, and experiencing Jesus’ presence during my Confirmation camp strengthened it. However, because I could not join the youth ministry, I continued on a solo journey of faith, thankfully with my faithful God beside me.

It was an uphill task, as there was tensions at home regarding my new practice. Attending mass alone was intimidating too. Many times I stopped, but somehow there was a desire to continue. Every mass, I would give thanks to the bread I had received, and pray that I would be able to again receive it the next week. It was only years later that it hit me how this sacrament was called the Holy Communion- because we are continually drawn to Him at His sacred table.

During a homily one weekend, my mind was incessantly distracted about my NUS admittance, and the huge unknown world I was stepping into much alone. I wondered if there was some society for Catholics in NUS, and resolved to Google for an answer once mass ended. Unsurprisingly, I forgot about it. It turned out that God was way more efficient than Google, because I received a text from a CCA senior asking if I wanted to attend the CSS FOC. This divine providence astounded both of us and despite my reservations, I decided to listen to God and take that leap of faith.

Attending the FOC had been an amazing experience indeed, because I never had a community to journey with in my faith. I found myself feeling thoroughly blessed for all the things we did as a community, though it was simple, like saying grace before we partook in our meal. I never had that at meal tables I was at, and this act was a beautiful extension of Christ’s fellowship with his disciples at their table.

Being a part of a praying community has also been something I am very thankful for. Through life-giving conversations during FOC and beyond, I have continuously been inspired by the faith stories they have shared. To know that we were all equally broken but clothed in the blood of the Lamb, and desired to know and love our wonderful God really gave me the strength to pursue my faith. FOC itself also taught me how to be a Catholic student, not just a student who is Catholic. The camp led to a renewal of my faith, and was just the beginning of a new chapter in my journey.

Although I have only been in the CSS community for a year, it has brought me lots of joy. Moreover, it has aided me in being accountable to my faith, as we journey together in Christ. Through the faculty contact group sessions, Friday campus masses, Wednesday frisbee sessions or even coincidental meetings at weekday masses, I continued to meet new people whom I could instantly connect with because we shared the same faith. That, I think, is truly the beauty of a church community built on the foundations of unconditional love.

My biggest takeaway from FOC has indeed been this Christ-centred community, grounded by the strongest gossamer of God’s unconditional love. If anyone of you walks alone in discipleship, come and share the light here!

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

1 John 1:7 (NIV)


Sarah is currently Year 1-going-on-2, and we thank her very much for sharing so bravely and honestly! Indeed there are many of us whose faith perhaps meets with resistance from others, even (or especially) our loved ones, which makes it very difficult to continue in the journey. We hope that her testimony may speak to those encountering the same struggles, and convey the importance of having a community to journey with and be accountable to!

We have extended the deadline for signups by two days, but do hurry because there’s just three days left! (Although if you’re reading this past the deadline, drop us an email and we’ll see what we can do…)

NUS Catholic Students’ Society Freshmen Orientation Camp (FOC) 2016: A Disciple’s Guide to HiKing registration is now OPEN: http://tinyurl.com/NUSCSSFOC2016
When: 27th June to 30th June 2016
Where: Church of the Holy Cross (Just beside NUS Utown)
If you have any queries email cssfoc2016@gmail.com!

FOC 2015 Testimony: Justyn

I found myself in this difficult position of choosing between my own faculty’s camp and CSS FOC. Till today I’ve never regretted the decision I made to go for FOC 2015. Why? …CSS FOC really gave me a family. We study together, play together and most importantly pray together(:

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Above: Justyn during one of the action songs at FOC 2015!


Just about a year ago, I was having trouble finding a community and as I was signing up for all the university camps, I happened to come across “NUS Catholic Students’ Society”. I found myself in this difficult position of choosing between my own faculty’s camp, and CSS FOC. Till today I’ve never regretted the decision I made to go for FOC 2015. Why? Family, and if you’re still finding a community to journey with for the next phase of your life, look no further 🙂 To be honest, when I compared my other freshmen camps with this, the people that helped me through my hardest times in university were all found here. I’m not saying that the other camps are bad, just that this camp is better 😀 and it’s definitely thanks to God and the many people who love him!

At the beginning, sure I was intimidated. Seeing so many new faces, and having attended so many camps, I was tired of introducing myself (hobbies, school, etc…) and had high expectations. As time went pass, I realised something different about this camp from the others: people actually wanted to get to know YOU. The deep, heart-felt sharings and the openness of the facilitators made us really comfortable and I could feel like I really connected with my group. The activities were really enjoyable too – beach day, games day, but the best part for me was Praise and Worship, EVERY MORNING. What better way to glorify god and give thanks than through music and dance? To sum it all up, CSS FOC really gave me a family. We study together, play together and most importantly pray together(: God surprises us in many ways, I guess if you’re reading this then this is His invitation for you to journey closer with others during your time in university!


Justyn is a Year 1 (going on 2) Chemistry Engin major! Thank you for sharing so earnestly, and we’re sure that some of you might be facing the same issue as him with regards to choosing between the many camps going on during this period! Nevertheless we strongly encourage you to take the leap of faith and to come join us – as Justyn said, CSS FOC is a good platform to enter the CSS family that studies, plays and prays together (:

NUS Catholic Students’ Society Freshmen Orientation Camp (FOC) 2016: A Disciple’s Guide to HiKing registration is now OPEN: http://tinyurl.com/NUSCSSFOC2016
When: 27th June to 30th June 2016
Where: Church of the Holy Cross (Just beside NUS Utown)
If you have any queries email cssfoc2016@gmail.com!

FOC 2015 Testimony: Brian

I was reminded that the call to prayer is a universal one, not just meant only for “holy people”. I learnt that God can take the little that we have, our very broken selves, and use them to bless others. I learnt not to dwell in my inadequacies but to offer them up to God for him to direct according to His will.

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Above: Brian at Foc 2015, first from left in the front row!


I come from a family where initiative and helpfulness are highly appreciated. I’ve served in many church camps, always trying to step up where I’m needed and doing my best to make myself useful. And the more experience I gained, the more compelled I felt to continue serving, to share with others the wealth of blessings I had received from serving God and his people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to make myself sound like a saint, but I am trying to help you understand that I am someone who loves to move, to do, to help. This is a part of me, one that I brought into CSS FOC.

Having served at so many camps, I found it hard to hard to be a participant again, not to look out for other people but to just keep myself open to receiving; to stop doing and simply be.  All through the camp, my mind was constantly in “service team mode”, ever on the lookout for potential pitfalls– things that could cause problems that would spill over to the rest of camp.  So many times, I saw situations that left me thinking: “No, there is a better way of doing this. I need to rectify this” and then subsequently catching myself and reminding myself that I was not there to “fight fires” but to receive.

I experienced the peak of this desire to do something meaningful, to spend my time constructively during the session where we had Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I know in my head that it is Jesus who is present before me in the Blessed Sacrament, but even now, at times, as it was then during the camp, my heart struggled to believe that my Lord and Savior could be contained in a small wafer. So, wanting to spend my time more constructively, I decided to take the time in that Adoration session praying for my group (including the facils).

Coming from the parish of St Ignatius, I recognised that prayer during a camp such as this is very important, and we actually have an Intercessory committee every camp set aside specially for this purpose. Even so, maybe it was the fear of boredom (huh, spend whole day praying?), perhaps the feeling of inadequacy (I’m not as holy as all these other people praying), but I always shied away from joining in these sessions. On that day, however, I chose to break away from my comfort zone and try it.

When I went forward to the prayer team, I was pleasantly surprised to see the familiar face of a family friend. I told him and his partner of my unusual request–to ask for prayers not only for myself, but for the rest of my group. Though a little thrown off, they quickly adapted to this different request and we settled into little structure, where for each group mate, I would state my petition for them, then we would intercede in the Spirit, followed by a Hail Mary. At the end of praying for about ten people, I expected to be extremely drained, but surprisingly, I felt rather at peace.

This experience was eye-opening for me. I was reminded that the call to prayer is a universal one, not just meant only for “holy people”. I learnt that God can take the little that we have, our very broken selves, and use them to bless others. I learnt not to dwell in my inadequacies but to offer them up to God for him to direct according to His will. As the chorus of the Corrine May song, Crooked Lines, goes:

God writes straight with crooked lines
He takes the mess we make in life
He turns our groaning into perfect rhyme
Hidden by the veil of time, 
The Wisdom of His love’s design
God writes straight with crooked lines

So I may never be able to word eloquent and inspiring prayers, nor be able to share prophetic visions with people whom I am praying for, but I now realise that that should not stop me from praying for them anyway. For as I stumble, I believe that my feeble attempts to grow God and to bring others to him do please Him. And so, regardless of where you are at in your faith journey, do consider coming down for the CSS FOC and let God reveal to you what you need to know at this stage of life. Open your mind and heart and allow God to work and you may be surprised at what He has in store for you!


Brian is a freshie (going on Year 2) studying Chemistry. We thank him for sharing so openly; indeed as a community we keep each other uplifted in prayer! We hope that those who are more active in parish will still consider coming for this FOC 🙂 Just ten more days until registration closes, so do hurry!

NUS Catholic Students’ Society Freshmen Orientation Camp (FOC) 2016: A Disciple’s Guide to HiKing registration is now OPEN: http://tinyurl.com/NUSCSSFOC2016
When: 27th June to 30th June 2016
Where: Church of the Holy Cross (Just beside NUS Utown)
If you have any queries email cssfoc2016@gmail.com!

FOC 2014 Testimony: Zhi Ler

It does not matter whether one has been living a faithful and religious life. One does not need to be a Catholic in good standing to come for this camp; and if one is, all the more it would be good to come! In fact, speaking from personal experience, you will find a place here even if you are not a Catholic!

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Above: Zhi Ler helping out at FOC 2015, after his first FOC experience!


I went for the CSS FOC in 2014 as a freshman. At that time I was not just a freshman to university life. But also a freshman to the Catholic faith. For around 2 years I had been exploring and learning about the Catholic faith. I was keen and curious, but my knowledge about it, and about the Church and her teachings are no more than book knowledge. At that time I was in fact quite contented to stay that way, attending mass every Sunday while I ‘figure things out myself’.

Then I had a friend from army who went to NUS a year ahead of me and, when he found out I was going to NUS, sent me an invitation to come for the FOC.

I don’t know what compelled me to sign up for it though. But I guess this is one of those wonderful little surprises that God so loves to arrange. Still, I signed up and went for the camp with a very uncertain mindset, not knowing what to expect. But it turns out my experience at FOC marked a major milestone in my faith journey. This was when I first experienced the warmth, the support and companionship of a community of faithful believers. I had lots of fun, and laughter, and late night convos, and a hot day out at the beach.

However, this is unlike any other camp you find in NUS. It is more than just about having fun. It is not just about being wild and crazy.

It is also a time of recollection, of learning, of discovering. In my first FOC, I learned how a community prays together. I discovered how lovely it is to attend mass among new-made friends – a feeling I didn’t know going to Church alone every Sunday. I also found out how to open up and share about personal feelings, and sometimes secrets, in a group of people who had only been strangers not too long ago. Sharing was uncomfortable for me initially. I am not a talkative person, nor am I inclined to open up about myself. But through the camp I found myself learning how to do so and realised how much it benefited me. Through the sessions and through the sharings, I managed to find support and encouragement and even guidance to prepare (spiritually and academically) for a new phase of life. But most memorably, I also had a tearful evening in front of the Eucharist (first Adoration; not an emotional person too, but strangely and tremendously moved by that touching experience).

These experiences I had in those four short days are really unique and amazing to me. In fact, FOC gave me the conviction I didn’t have before to sign up for RCIA at my parish.

I believe beginning the challenging university journey by returning to God marks a good start. Many of us come in from a long period of busyness and stress. Be it A-levels in JC or FYPs in poly, or -for the men- army life, FOC gives a wonderful opportunity to recollect, to rediscover our true calling and purpose, to find God once again in our lives, and to pick up our identity as Catholic students (not Catholic students – 2014 FOC tagline!).

Now, having served as a facilitator for last year’s FOC, I get to meet even more Catholics coming from all walks of their faith life. It does not matter whether one has been living a faithful and religious life. One does not need to be a Catholic in good standing to come for this camp; and if one is, all the more it would be good to come! In fact, speaking from personal experience, you will find a place here even if you are not a Catholic! The friends I made at FOC also became important sources of support for me for the next 2 years of my university life. Journeying with this group of supportive, faithful and encouraging people was really edifying and enormously beneficial for me. For these experiences, and for these companionships, I will always be thankful to God.


Zhi Ler is a Year 2 (going on Year 3) studying engineering 🙂 Thank you Zhi Ler for sharing your testimony!! Even if you’re non-Catholic, we hope this testimony will encourage you to join us and check out this community 🙂 Indeed as Zhi Ler has put it so well, “FOC gives a wonderful opportunity to recollect, to rediscover our true calling and purpose, to find God once again in our lives, and to pick up our identity as Catholic students.” 

NUS Catholic Students’ Society Freshmen Orientation Camp (FOC) 2016: A Disciple’s Guide to HiKing registration is now OPEN: http://tinyurl.com/NUSCSSFOC2016
When: 27th June to 30th June 2016
Where: Church of the Holy Cross (Just beside NUS Utown)
If you have any queries email cssfoc2016@gmail.com!

FOC 2015 Testimony: Samuel

In no time you will be entertained by their nonsense and just let loose and be yourself. Sharing with them was not a problem as we are all of the same age group and the problems we face are very relevant, this is a hallmark of a youth community in campus… At the camp, I learnt a few things which struck me like how as Christians we are the body of Christ and every part of the body has a specific role and function to fulfil and yet we all make up one body of Christ in a community.

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Above: Samuel anointing one of his groupmates in an icebreaker game for FOC 2015


Hi there, I’m Samuel Lau, currently Year 2 (going on Year 3) NUS Pharmacy. The idea of having a Catholic community was bugging me ever since I drifted away from church and Amplify after serving NS. As most guys would probably know, NS was a hard period of my life in which God was there every moment with me but due to staying in camp my circle of Catholic friends in which I stayed in contact with slowly dwindled after the two whole years serving the nation.

So it all began when… prior to entering University, I was fortunate enough to be approached by my dearest Aunt Theresa who once worked at the Office for young people (OYP) as a caretaker. She invited me to participate in this event called ‘Kickstart’. Curious about her occasional talk about the happening youth events at OYP, I decided to give it a shot. And I haven’t regretted ever since

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Enough said. Hahahahahha

I went to the Camp being myself: reserved, shy and more of passively waiting to get approached rather than to actively approach others. Not to worry fellow introverts, these people are the most friendly and welcoming people ever. In no time you will be entertained by their nonsense and just let loose and be yourself. Sharing with them was not a problem as we are all of the same age group and the problems we face are very relevant, this is a hallmark of a youth community in campus which attracted me unlike other groups back in my parish whereby it’s a struggle to understand people with ‘generation gaps’ and are in very different phases of life. It’s not that its bad to have variety but I guess I feel a sense of belonging here in CSS with the Catholic youth of the same age. (Plus point!!!! Expect to see your Catechism/Catholic school old friends!!)

At the camp, I learnt a few things which struck me like how as Christians we are the body of Christ and every part of the body has a specific role and function to fulfil and yet we all make up one body of Christ in a community.

1. Community challenges you to be more like Jesus. The camp was a good balance between play and pray so don’t worry about it being ‘too spiritual’. The sessions really catered towards freshmen like me and it really brought me a step closer back to God. Throughout my University life, there were Catholic friends who journeyed with me during cell groups. Their faith and example as well as their sharings really inspire me to strive towards Jesus. Simple daily encouragement to go for mass or pray and lending a listening ear whenever I needed help really spurred me on in my studies.

‘And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’ – Hebrews 10:24-25

2. Community carries you emotionally/opens your eyes to the needs of others. Being with CSS throughout the past year really carried me though university life. There were so many times that I could feel the presence of God and just experience him in this community while at school. Even after a tiring and emotionally draining day at school, I had the opportunity to unload all of that sadness and frustration and fellowship with these people. We definitely need friends in our faculty and courses, but a fellow Catholic friend is always a bonus to help me in this journey of faith.

‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.’ – Galatians 6:2

3. Community empowers your relationship with God. I can’t stress less about this point whether is it playing games in the camp or saying prayers before meals and just getting to know new people. The community will bring you closer to God and this camp taught me the importance of journeying with a community rather than alone.

‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.’ – Proverbs 27:17

So to end off, if you don’t remember anything that you just read, just sign up for CSS FOC! Your own faith adventure will begin and I will assure you that you will have loads of fun while growing closer to God in faith. It’s a 2 for 1 deal, how much better can it get?


Thank you Samuel for sharing your testimony! For those fresh out of National Service, or those who may have drifted from God, we hope his sharing has encouraged you to step out of your comfort zone and answer God’s call to return to Him 🙂 Who knows what you might encounter at CSS FOC 2016! Do sign up now if you wish to join us on this exciting adventure 🙂

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. – Revelations 3:20

FOC 2015 Testimony: Francisca

I never involved myself in church activities after Confirmation as I just didn’t see the need for a community. (…) What I experienced from CSS FOC totally changed my mindset about community… It made me aware of the fact that this faith journey can’t be done as a sole traveller.

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Above: Fran at FOC 2015 with her friends (second from right!)


I come from a staunch Catholic family and we always prioritised faith in every aspect of our lives. We would pray over absolutely anything and that always made me feel so safe, so comforted. Over the years however, our busy lives took over and sometimes I would forget to pray at important times (e.g. morning, before meals end of the day etc.). Despite this, my family still remains very connected to the church and to our faith. On a personal level, I never involved myself in church activities after Confirmation as I just didn’t see the need for a community. I didn’t understand why you would need people around you to help you in your faith. Why need people when I can praise God by myself right? So when I signed up for CSS FOC, I didn’t really expect much and was just hoping to make friends to ease my entrance to a new unfamiliar environment that is NUS. I was so afraid that I wouldn’t know anyone and I’d be a sad loner. So yes, like anyone, I was happy to hear that I had a few friends already going for the camp because that just meant forging friendships would be easier.

What I experienced from CSS FOC totally changed my mindset about community. It was such an enriching experience and it made me realise just how important the people around you are. It made me aware of the fact that this faith journey can’t be done as a sole traveller. I learnt so many new things about myself, surprisingly, by listening to other people. It made entering this strange University environment so much easier because I knew I wasn’t alone! Of course, I did make new friends. But that’s merely a bonus. CSS FOC really got me more rooted in my faith and allowed me to connect with God on a deeper level. It changed my pre-uni aimlessness so much to one filled with hope and promise. So if you feel the same way as I did (“omg I’m so not holy enough”/”omg life is so pointless but never mind I’ll just go to make friends”) Don’t fret! You’ll find yourself through the people around you and of course, the Man up there too 😊😊😊  Come for FOC if you want to find yourself!!


Francisca was our freshie at our FOC 2015, currently majoring in Linguistics. We are more than grateful she took the leap of faith to come join us and to bring so much joy over the past year. We hope that FOC 2016 too will be that opportunity to meet you where you are at your faith journey and to provide you the means of guidance for your journey ahead at NUS and university. And of course, you are most welcome to join us whether you are Year 1, 2, 3 or 4!

NUS Catholic Students’ Society Freshmen Orientation Camp (FOC) 2016: A Disciple’s Guide to HiKing registration is now OPEN: http://tinyurl.com/NUSCSSFOC2016
When: 27th June to 30th June 2016
Where: Church of the Holy Cross (Just beside NUS Utown)
If you have any queries email nuscss@gmail.com !

Thanks for your sharing Franc!
Hope to see YOU there!

FOC 2015 Testimony: Cordelia

God had blessed me with a bunch of beautiful… group members and facilitators- and within each of them, shone the light of Christ that gradually chased away the bitter darkness I had previously been entrenched in… He loved me through the actions of the people around me– their kind words; their heartfelt thanks; their honest sharing; their warm hugs… His presence was always felt, in one form or another, especially midst the silence of reflection. New journeys aren’t so hard when you’ve got good companions. You’ve got God, you’ve got us- you’ll never walk alone.

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Above: Cordelia at FOC 2015!


A year ago I entered NUS with a heavy heart. For most, it marked an exciting new chapter in their lives. They had chosen NUS, and in return, NUS had chosen them. But things were slightly different on my end.

Don’t get me wrong, I felt blessed and was thankful for my place in NUS. However, I couldn’t quite rid the nagging disappointment that came after foregoing university offers from abroad. It was the lack of adequate financial support that stole those opportunities way from me, leaving me feeling very sore. The years spent under Singapore’s meritocratic education system had instilled in me a very clear message- that if you worked hard enough, good grades would be the golden ticket for the train ride to your desired academic destination.

But there are times when the ticket for the ride only partially covers your journey. It sends you to the gates, and drops you off there. You’d have to pay an entry fee if you’d like to proceed inside. After which this fee is revised, and an annual payment is expected if you’d like to stay. In reality, grades merely unleash the offers. They grant you admission, but they don’t fund you. With overseas undergraduate scholarships being numbered, the competition for them remain extremely intense. Typically, the probability of snagging one is almost next to nothing.

Applications. Credentials. Recommendation letters. Referrals. Emails. Preparation. Panels. Questions. Interviews. Trepidation. Second interviews. Hope. Silence. Anxiety. Rejection. Dread.
All hopes of furthering my post-tertiary education overseas went down the drain.

Needless to say, I was not on the best terms with God at that time. I found it very difficult to accept that I had worked so hard for nothing. I was doing the unthinkable- watching myself reject the very same admission offers I had been praying to receive in the mail months earlier. Was this some kind of cruel joke? Whatever happened to, ‘if God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it’?

And so, I entered NUS thankful, but bitter. I intended to slip under the radar, speeding through the four years focused on my work, unseen. This wouldn’t be very hard to do. The sheer size of the faculty that I had been admitted into would easily allow me to remain almost invisible midst a sea of students. But God wouldn’t have any of that; he simply refused to allow his child to waste four years of her life like that. He was insistent in trying to make me feel welcome in this new environment, hoping that I’d come to accept and make the best out of my university years.

Trust me, I tried to hide, but it didn’t work. He reached out to me through calls from OYP inviting me for Kickstart, and incessant Facebook invites to university Catholic student groups. He beckoned me through announcements for camp sign-ups after mass, through print advertisements that popped up in the Catholic News out of nowhere, and through emails. His final attempt, was in the form of WhatsApp messaging, when He came to me through friends who asked me if I had heard of CSS, of the camps, and would I be attending?

It’s tiring playing hide and seek with God. Mainly because he always finds you. So I gave in.
‘Yes,’ I told them, ‘I would be attending.’

I threw myself face first into CSS’ Freshman Orientation Camp not knowing what to expect. Yes, there were familiar faces from my IJ days (thank God), but I didn’t know anyone personally in my immediate camp group on the first day. It took a while to warm up, but when we did, I truly started to feel very welcome and comfortable in camp. I threw away all my doubts about camp by the end of the first day. God had blessed me with a bunch of beautiful (albeit weird, punny, wacky, loud) group members and facilitators- and within each of them, shone the light of Christ that gradually chased away the bitter darkness I had previously been entrenched in.

I hadn’t attended a Catholic camp as a participant since my confirmation back in 2011. And in the years that followed, I had been instead, planning and facilitating camps with the catechetical ministry. As rewarding as that was, there were times where I missed fully participating and connecting with God in camps. As such, in many ways FOC was not only God’s plan in trying to welcome me into a new family in school. But it also was a much needed spiritual retreat, giving me an opportunity to truly reflect, to let go of whatever disappointment and insecurities holding me down, and to finally trust in God to lead me again. Let go, let God.

God really spoke to me during the course of those days. He was there during group’s sharing over lunch, the praise and worship sessions, during the sacred time of mass. He loved me through the actions of the people around me- their kind words; their heartfelt thanks; their honest sharing; their warm hugs. He blessed us with thought-provoking sessions, good food, fun times cleaning up the kitchen, impromptu karaoke sessions in the middle of Palawan beach. His presence was always felt, in one form or another, especially midst the silence of reflection.

This is going to sound pretty cliché, but I do believe (although it probably transcends logical sense) that the future is in God’s hands, and that He’s always got a plan us.

It’s a year after I had to reject my offer to NYU. I won’t lie, there are days when this bothers me a little. Yet, those thoughts are always pushed aside by the reminders of the numerous other blessings I’ve received through the year. God made transitioning into university life a whole lot easier for me when he brought me into this community. I’ve met beautiful souls (both during FOC and during weekly cell-group sessions) to whom I’m very grateful for, and felt a sense of camaraderie I’ve grown to cherish.

New journeys aren’t so hard when you’ve got good companions. You’ve got God, you’ve got us- you’ll never walk alone.


Cordelia is a Year 1 (going on Year 2) Arts and Social Sciences student, who participated in CSS FOC 2015! We’re truly grateful to her for her heartfelt sharing :))) Regardless of the emotions you harbour in your heart, be they joy or perhaps resentment, disappointment, or even grief, we hope that FOC 2016 will be a blessed time that allows for both fun and also for you to (re)connect with our Lord.

If her sharing has resonated with you, and you feel a stirring to give FOC a chance, please do sign up for this camp 🙂 See you in June!

FOC 2015 Testimony: Gabriel

For me, every little helping hand, every act of love, was a way to build the kingdom of God in our own tiny way. (…) Even more heartening was the forging of bonds from the oldest of seniors to the youngest of freshies.

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Above: Gabriel (4th from left, front row) together with the rest of the CSS FOC 2015 Committee 🙂


Heading the previous FOC was both enriching and fruitful. But more than that, it was a humbling experience, an opportunity for God to take control. Planning and running an FOC is never easy, it easily being the largest endeavour undertaken by the CSS community in the academic year. Nevertheless, the bigger the endeavour, the greater the opportunity for God to work. For me, every little helping hand, every act of love, was a way to build the kingdom of God in our own tiny way. The way everyone came together for this single cause made it flawless in itself. Even more heartening was the forging of bonds from the oldest of seniors to the youngest of freshies. And that makes me proud to be a part of this Spirit-filled community.


Gabriel, who’s a final-year Architecture student, was Camp Head of CSS FOC 2015 (last year’s FOC) and we truly appreciate his heartfelt sharing! We hope this testimony has offered a glimpse into what the FOC experience may be like for those who are thinking of helping out, in one way or another, but who haven’t signed up yet. As Gab puts it so well, every act of love – no matter how small we think it may be – is a way to build the kingdom of God. (Go click on that link, what are you waiting for ;))

We also hope this has captured a taste of the CSS spirit for those who are thinking of joining us for this camp 🙂 All the preparations of the camp committee are for naught if you don’t join – we’re looking forward to having you so don’t hesitate any longer, click on the hyperlink to sign up! See you in June 🙂