It was a joyous occasion when the church was blessed and declared formally opened on 12th February 1961 by Archbishop Michael Olçomendy.
The Jesuit Fathers arrived in Singapore in 1951 to build a hostel for students attending the Teachers’ Training College. This hostel was named Kingsmead Hall after the area which was known as Kingsmead Estate after it was completed in 1954. The first public mass at Kingsmead was held in the latter half of 1954 for the students staying at the hostel and Catholics living nearby.
As more people started to come for mass, there was a greater sense that a church needed to be built. By God’s grace, a plot of kampong land was found and purchased within the Kingsmead’s area, and the fund-raising and building construction started. Father Patrick Joy SJ and Father Thomas Doody SJ were the primary forces behind rallying the people to give more generously. And give they did! When the church was completed, it was an obvious choice to have the church named after the founder of the Society of Jesus – St Ignatius of Loyola.
It was a joyous occasion when the church was blessed and declared formally opened on 12th February 1961 by Archbishop Michael Olçomendy. By 1962, a church bulletin was started and featured the logo of loaves and fishes in mosaic tiles found on the walls of the church.
As the area around St Ignatius became more populated, the number of Catholics for the Church steadily increased as well. By 1973, a new parish hall, Ignatius Hall, complete with one badminton court, was opened to cope with the demand for space. This was expanded in the late 1980s when Sacred Heart Hall was added. Kingsmead Hall also ceased to be a hostel in December 1990 and the part of the place was turned partially into the Centre for Ignatian Spirituality and Counselling, while the other parts were used as the Jesuit Novitiate.
Besides the physical expansion, the parishioners became better bonded with the church and each other through initiatives like the Parish missions in 1978, 1985 and 1993. Parish Renewal Experiences were also conducted from 1984 to 1988 to spur more Catholics to becoming active members of the church.
After serving the community for more than four decades, it was no wonder that the then parish priest, Father Leslie Raj SJ and the congregation alike envisioned that it was timely to build a new church. With much gusto, the parishioners set about bring this dream to reality. Starting with the workshops organised to pray and discern what they wanted in a church in 1998, the next hurdle of getting the funds raised and building constructed took place from 2000 to 2004. The newly built St Ignatius opened right on schedule on 12th February 2004 when Archbishop Nicholas Chia officiated over the church’s dedication. In 2009, a change of parish priests saw Monsignor Philip Heng assume the responsibilities for the parish. A Social Mission Core Team was also set up to spearhead the social dimension of the parish, which led to several ministries starting social mission projects for the poor and the needy. St Ignatius is truly a church that is growing in its community and its spirituality. In its golden anniversary publication of 2012, it was reflected that “the parish of the Church of St Ignatius of today would surely make Father Joy celebrate true to his name.
50 years of the parish of the Church of St Ignatius. (2012). Singapore: Church of St Ignatius.