From Mission To Church
Celebrate with the communities who grew, against the odds, large enough to build parishes, schoolhouses-orphanages and homes for the poor. Learn how various communities and leaders of the Church in Singapore faced the Japanese Occupation.
From Mission To Church
1880 - 1945
Catholic Church as a legal entity
By the ordinance of 15th November 1885, the Bishop was designated as "The Titular Roman Catholic Bishop of Malacca resident in the Straits Settlements" and the Catholic Church was incorporated as a legal entity. The first Bishop to be thus recognised was Bishop Edouard Gasnier.
Land was Given to Build the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes
In 1885, the colonial government granted the Church a piece of land at Ophir Road. The Church of Our Lady of Lourdes was opened in 1888 to serve the Tamil speaking Catholics.
In 1885, the IJ Sisters also assumed administration of the General Hospital (later Singapore General Hospital). The Straits Government’s intention to recruit trained European nurses coincided with Bishop Edward Gasnier’s intention to have the Sisters establish an alternative hospital.
Image & Credit: Church of Our Lady of Lourdes (1959). Photo: Fr R Nicolas
Jurisdiction of the Diocese of Macau
The Portuguese parish of St Joseph in Victoria Street is placed under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Macau, together with the parish of St Peter in Malacca.
Two More Local Priests are Ordained.
Two more local priests, Father Stephen Lee and Father Rudolf de Souza, were ordained.
Bishop Emile Barillon also reported anti-Christian feelings and open acts of hostility such as vandalism and assaults of Christians by anti-Christian secret societies. This persecution may have been due to anti-foreigner sentiment after the fall of the Qing Dynasty in China in 1911.
The Beginning of the Church of St Anthony
100 Chinese refugees from Swatow arrived in Singapore. Fr Stephen Lee wrote to the Government for a grant of land so that these settlers could set up homes and cultivate crops. After repeated applications, 100 acres of hilly terrain was made available. The village came to be known as the Catholic Village.
A chapel was also built to attend to the spiritual needs of these Catholics. This was the beginning of the Church of St Anthony.
Carmelite Monastery Begins Construction
The Redemptorist Fathers were Invited to Start a Foundation
The Redemptorist Fathers were also invited to start a Foundation in Singapore, they arrived on 30th July 1935.
Bishop Devals also introduced the precursor to today’s Catholic News, the Malay Catholic Leader, beginning with a modest circulation of 3000 copies.
Gabrielite Brothers Arrive and Take Charge of Holy Innocent English School
The Good Shepherd Sisters Arrive
Again at the invitation of Archbishop Devals, four Irish Good Shepherd Sisters arrived in December 1939 to set up a house for girls in need.
The Church Under the Japanese Occupation
Singapore fell to Japanese forces in 1943. About 300 Eurasian families and 400 Chinese Catholic families were sent to Bahau. Archbishop A Devals went along with them, but eventually died there. The Church under the Japanese Occupation suffered a great deal but emerged stronger and well-placed to serve Singapore after the war.
Image copyright © Archives des Missions Étrangères de Paris.