During his time as a replacement teacher in the College General (Penang), April 1821 to January 1822, the young Father Laurent Imbert was asked to make a visit to the island of Singapore. Monsignor Esprit-Marie-Joseph Florens, the Vicar Apostolic of Siam, had been wondering whether to open a mission station in Singapore, but knew nothing of the circumstances there. Father Imbert was to visit and report to his findings.
Father Imbert wrote to the Bishop that “there are only 12 or 13 in number and seem to lead a wretched life….I think you would do well in sending hither a missionary, if not to remain permanently, at least to visit the Christians from time to time”.
After his stay in Southeast Asia, Father Imbert continued on to Korea on as a missionary, where he was beheaded for being Catholic.
News of Father Imbert’s martyrdom in 1839 came to Singapore at a time when Father Jean-Marie Beurel and the committee were deciding on a name for Singapore’s first church. The choice of name,”the Good Shepherd” was suggested by Bishop Boucho, who had taken it from a letter written by Father Imbert before he was martyred. “In desperate circumstances, the Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.”