In mid-1990, with the intention of finding some solace during their hectic work schedule, Vincent Lawrence, Kenneth Goh and Dennis Tang, organised some rosary sessions at one of the trading houses in the Raffles Place district. Calling themselves “Catholics in the Marketplace” (CIMP), they started off with rosary sessions and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. They began to come together for weekly prayer, Rosary sessions and fellowship. Eventually, CIMP decided to organize masses, to reach out other Catholics in the Central Business District (CBD).
On 15 September 1991, CIMP organized its first mass in the auditorium of OCBC building at Church Street, with 50 to 60 people in attendance. The next few Mass venues were in various places around the CBD, as management was not keen on permitting Mass to be celebrated on their premises. Finally, a larger and more permanent venue was settled upon at the Terrace in Victoria Concert Hall (VCH). As lunchtime Masses began to be a weekly affair, Fr Terence Pereira volunteered to be a regular celebrant. While at VCH, attendance at lunchtime Masses numbered about 100 to 120 people.
Inspired by CIMP (later known as CPS Raffles), another group in the CBD area (now known as CPS Shenton) began holding Masses at the Singapore Conference Hall. The pre-cursors to CPS Raffles and CPS Shenton decided to combine to form the Catholic Prayer Society (CPS), for the purpose of purchasing a permanent venue to celebrate Mass, for adoration and to have a Catholic bookshop in the city. This initiative was approved by the Senate of Priests in 1994 and registered with in the Registry of Societies in August 1995.
Through the years, more groups have stepped up to organize lunchtime Masses and Catholic activities serving their workplace communities. On top of CPS Raffles and CPS Shenton, the CPS also has branches in Orchard, Suntec, Outram, Jurong and Changi. CPS Raffles also runs a lunchtime Alpha course and RCIA program in Raffles Place.
The information for this article was provided courtesy of the Catholic Prayer Society and edited for clarity and brevity. Their website can be accessed at http://www.cps.org.sg/index.php.