The early Church Fathers decided that it was necessary to build a Church for the Hokkien-speaking Catholics.
After the Sacred Heart Church was built, the early Church Fathers decided that it was necessary to build a church for the Hokkien-speaking Catholics. This was realised in 1925 when 2.1 acres of undeveloped marshland was purchased through the mediation and intercession of Saint Teresa of the Child Jesus. Hence it was decided that the church be named after St Teresa who was canonised in May that same year.
Father Emile Mariette, parish priest of the Church of Sts Peter and Paul, spearheaded the building project and backed by Father Stephen Lee as his assistant. The Foundation Stone was blessed and laid down on 18th April 1927 by Bishop Louis Perrichon. Sadly on 13th March 1928, a plank accidentally dropped onto Father Mariette’s head, and caused him his life. The building’s construction was then handed over to Father Stephen Lee. The Church was officially opened on 7th April 1929 by Bishop Perrichon and witnessed by the local Governor, Sir Hugh Clifford and Lady Clifford.
After the official opening, services at the Church were initially infrequent as the area was still sparsely populated. It was only on 7th April 1935 when Father Stephen Lee was officially made the first resident parish priest that the church was accorded a full parish status, and became more active. In the same year, land was purchased and developed to build up the Carmelite Monastery and a Catholic Settlement, made up of 6 bungalows and 10 barrack houses. At the invitation of the Bishop of Malacca to set up in Singapore, the Carmelite Nuns entered their new monastery near the Church on 11th May and closed their doors. In the same year, classes of the St Teresa’s Sino-English School was started and later the school moved into a proper school building that was built next to the Church. After Hood Lodge was acquired by the Church in 1935, it continued its function as a school for Indian girls under the Infant Jesus Sisters. The Lodge was also used as a parish house, a home for the Port Chaplain and a war refuge for Catholics whose homes had been bombed by the Japanese military administration. After 1945, the war-damaged Church and other buildings were repaired. Some 85 orphan boys, aged 6 to 14, became the first residents of the Catholic Action War Stricken Boys’ Home which was established on 25th September 1945.
In 1979 in the year of the Church’s Golden Jubilee, the idea of a columbarium and a social and educational centre for the parish was mooted. Both were completed in 1983, making St Teresa’s the first Catholic Church in Singapore to have a columbarium. A new parish house was officially opened and blessed on 30th September 2001. In 2003, the Church celebrated its 75th Anniversary with seven parishioners receiving the Benemerenti (“Well-deserving”) Award for their dedication to the church.
Phang, S. L. (Ed.) (2005). Monument of Love: Church of St Teresa. Singapore: Church of St Teresa.