By Sr M. Gerard Fernandez, rgs
The Good Shepherd Sisters arrived in Singapore on 12th December 1939. Mother Liguori Bourke and Sr Alphonsus Moody were the first pioneers. Sr Columba Cannon and Sr Dympna Brady arrived shortly after in January 1940. They were made welcome by the Infant Jesus Sisters who housed them at the Convent Victoria Street during the first years of the Foundation.
On 1st February 1940, the sisters moved to Ponggol. They occupied a bungalow house owned by Mr. Paul Lee Kheng Hong, a wealthy Catholic Chinese gentleman. The Convent was blessed by Bishop A. Devals. Among those who were also invited were the Vicar General Mgr Michael Olcomendy, Fr. Michael Seet, 12 other priests, the Infant Jesus Sisters (IJ), the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Canossian Daughters of Charity and the Christian Brothers. Rev. Fr. H. Berthold was named the Chaplain for the Sisters. He cycled to their Convent to say Mass every morning.
The work of the Good Shepherd Sisters is to care for troubled teenagers and women. The first girl, Mary, was received in the Home on 6th February 1940. By May 1940, the Home had 11 residents. It was a significant year for the Sisters as their Foundress, Sr M. Euphrasia Pelletier, was canonized St. Mary Euphrasia on 2nd May 1940.
When World War Two affected Singapore, the Good Shepherd Sisters were asked to vacate the building at Punggol. They were housed in various sites until 1944, when they were sent to Bahau with other congregations including the IJ Sisters, Canossians and the Christian Brothers. When the Sisters and their girls returned to Singapore on 31st September 1945, after a traumatic and difficult experience where many had fallen sick or died, they found a place at Kampong Java Rd. This was officially opened in October 1945.
The Home however could only house 60 girls, so they prayed fervently for bigger premises. Their prayers were answered in October 1947 when they acquired land in Thomson Road. In gratitude to Our Lady, the Sisters named the place “Marymount”. 140 girls and the Sisters moved to Marymount three years later, on 18th October 1950.
Today, the Sisters’ work has branched out from one Home in Punggol to schools, childcare centres and crisis shelters. They are associated with Marymount Kindergarten, Good Shepherd Kindergarten, Ahuva Good Shepherd, Good Shepherd Student Care, and Good Shepherd Centre, these are under the umbrella body of Marymount Centre sponsored by the Good Shepherd Sisters, Marymount Convent School, Good Shepherd Oasis and Good Shepherd Convent Restful Waters.
Archives of the Good Shepherd Sisters, Singapore.
John, A., Skadian C., Alfred H., Reuters L., Tan T., Ho K., … Yap N. (2004). Come, Follow Me: 40th Sacerdotal Anniversary of His Grace Archbishop Nicholas Chia. Singapore: Archdiocese of Singapore.
This article has been published with the kind permission of the Good Shepherd Sisters and edited for brevity. Read more about their mission and good works on their website at www.gssmmission.org.