Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary (SS.CC.)

In 1928, the first SS.CC. Father in Singapore, Fr Isfried Meijer, was moved to Singapore from Indonesia, to start a mission office as Procurator. He stayed at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, until 1933. After the war ended in 1945 Fr Meijer, who had been kept prisoner by the Japanese in Indonesia, resumed his task as Procurator. This time he stayed with the La Salle Brothers in East Coast Road, where he served as a Chaplain and taught catechism and tuition. He was also the pastor of the Dutch community in Singapore.

In 1957, when Bishop Olcomendy was looking for priests to minister to the Apostleship of the Sea and for a new parish in Queenstown, he asked Fr Meijer if the Sacred Heart Fathers would be able to help. Fr Meijer passed the request on to his provincial superior in Holland, who accepted and sent three priests to assist the diocese of Malacca- Singapore. They would become the first Sacred Heart Fathers community here.

In 1958 Fathers Odo Tiggeloven, William van Soest and Alfons Bergmans arrived. Fr. Alfons was appointed as chaplain to the Apostleship of the Sea (Stella Maris), the pastoral care for the seamen. He lived and worked in the Seamen’s House behind the Church of St Teresa for twelve years. The other two priests took care of the future church in Queenstown: Fr. van Soest was in charge of construction and the future parish priest, whereas Fr Odo would be his assistant. A fifth SS.CC Father, Monsignor Dominic Desperben, came to Singapore in 1961. He had been Apostolic Prefect of Hainan, China, until 1953 when he was expelled by the communists.

By 1963, the first part of Blessed Sacrament Church had been completed. Damien Hall was used for worship and temporary accommodation for Fathers van Soest and Odo. One of them worked and slept in the kitchen, while the other did so in the meeting room. Their presbytery was ready a year later. They were joined by Father Desperben and Fr Meijer. In those days the Catholic population of Queenstown numbered only a few hundred. The Sacred Heart Fathers, particularly Fr William van Soest and Fr Odo were responsible for the design, construction and funding of the new parish. A mammoth task! As such, Damien Hall was also used for many fund-raising activities such as variety shows, organized by the Building Fund Committee. Blessed Sacrament Church was completed in May 1965, seven years after the arrival of the SS.CC missionaries.

By the 1980s, the original SS.CC community had experienced a significant turnover as priests returned home to Holland for their retirement or passed away. The number of missionaries from Holland decreased and more SS.CC priests came from Indonesia instead. On 8th February 2004, three Indonesian Brothers were ordained as deacons at Blessed Sacrament Church. A year later, due to international SS.CC meetings in Singapore, 18 Sacred Heart Fathers were able to concelebrate at the diaconate ordination Mass of Brothers Suwondo and Remi Liando. The SS.CC missionaries continue to serve Blessed Sacrament Church and live out their mission “To contemplate, live and announce to the world God’s love, which was made flesh in Jesus”.

References

The Sacred Heart Fathers in Singapore. (n.d.) In Blessed Sacrament Church: About Us. Retrieved from http://www.bsc.org.sg/history/sscc.html.


Read more about the mission and good works of the Sacred Heart Fathers on their website at http://www.ssccpicpus.com/en/presence/asi_33.