In 1983, a Malaysian friar Father John Mary Chin was tasked by the Carmelite General House in Rome to start a Mandarin-speaking community in Asia. He was appointed the first Provincial of Taiwan-Singapore Delegation of the Carmelite Community in 1984 and started a friary in Taiwan. Between 1983 and 1996, there were eight vocations from Singapore and Malaysia, and one vocation from Taiwan.
In 1996, Fr Chin also started the Singapore foundation to meet the number of vocations coming from Singapore and Malaysia and to cater to more races, since the friary in Taiwan taught only in Mandarin. The community moved from Taiwan to Singapore in the same year to begin the Carmelite mission here with five Carmelite friars, including Fr Thomas Lim, currently the General-Delegate for the Taiwan-Singapore General Delegation. To help with the growth of the mission, they invited Fr Tom Curran to work in the Formation House. Fr Tom arrived from his previous mission in Nigeria, in 1997. Shortly after his arrival, the Senate of Priests decided to give the Carmelite Fathers care of the Church of Sts Peter and Paul, located at Queen Street. The parish had previously been under the Fathers of the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris (MEP). Fr John Mary Chin became the first Carmelite parish priest of Sts. Peter and Paul in 1998.
In their first three years in Singapore, the Carmelites began extensive renovations of the parish, which was more than a hundred years old. They also bought property to cater to the growing number of vocations—first at Sembawang then in Punggol which was closer to the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary.
The community of Carmelite friars has attracted young men from the region including Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar. Today there are two Carmelite friaries – a house of formation in Punggol and at the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, a parish ministered by the Carmelite friars.
Boon, D. (2012, December 2). Carmelite novitiate to move from S’pore to Taiwan. Catholic News. Retrieved from http://catholicnews.sg/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8118:carmelite-novitiate-to-move-from-spore-to-taiwan&catid=321&Itemid=473.
Discalced Carmelite Friars: Anglo Irish Province- Irish Region. Fr Tom Curran OCD – Singapore. Retrieved from http://www.ocd.ie/index.php/about-us/293-fr-tom-curran-ocd-singapore.
Gan, J. (2009, December 6). Remembering the first Carmelite parish priest in Singapore. Catholic News. Retrieved from http://catholicnews.sg/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3582:remembering-the-first-carmelite-parish-priest-in-singapore&catid=207&Itemid=473.
Ooi, W. (2006, July). Up close and personal – The Carmelites. Catholic News. Retrieved from http://catholicnews.sg/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1294.