Plans were drawn up and by 21st November 1970, the Church of St Vincent de Paul was blessed and opened by the Archbishop Michael Olçomendy.
The year was 1959, and Father Henri Saussard MEP, assistant priest at the Church of St Francis Xavier was asked to administer to the Catholic community of Jalan Kayu. Mr J S Gomez offered his home as the site at which the mass was celebrated. This marked the humble beginnings of a parish community.
When Mr Gomez’s home proved to be too small to contain the growing crowds, the matter was discussed with Archbishop Michael Olcomendy at a meeting in January 1963, which led to a decision to purchase a shophouse along Jalan Kayu. The basement was converted to a chapel for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist whilst the ground level floor was used for other church activities. However even this soon proved to be inadequate to accommodate the expanding congregation.
In 1966, a submerged plot that was used as a dumping ground for felled coconut trees was secured to be the site of the future church. Plans were drawn up and by 21st November 1970, the Church of St Vincent de Paul was blessed and opened by the Archbishop Michael Olçomendy.
After years of being used, the physical upgrading of the building was undertaken and sustained right up to 1985.
Efforts to engage and bond the parish community included the setting up of the Seletar Hills Residents Association in 1966, having a Senior Parishioners Circle formed in 1984, and placing the parish territory into zones headed by leaders who would arrange for meetings and inter-zone activities.
On 10th July 1985 the Parish Pastoral Council was established. It paved the way for the greater involvement of parishioners in the management of the parish. In December 1985, the first Parish Renewal Experience was conducted. It was aimed at cultivating the proper appreciation of one’s position and role in a Christian community.
By the 1990s, under parish priest, Father Adrian Anthony, all 30 parish organisations and 19 neighbourhood groups were brought under the supervision of the Parish Pastoral Council. Then in 1995, a major upgrading exercise was undertaken for the parish that saw the addition of a new block to the parish building, as well as several other practical and aesthetic features. These included having a multi-storey car park and putting in disabled and elder-friendly lifts and washrooms.
One special celebration of the parish is its pre-Feast Day Nine-day Observation, which has been observed since 2001, where the Archbishop would grace the celebrations on the final day.
Under Father Michael Sitaram, the Church of St Vincent de Paul strived to have its parishioners be committed to the call of the Gospel, which is a call to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, who played down the glamour and splendor of the material world, befriended the weak, the lowly and the down-trodden and preached and practiced humility and service to fellowmen.
This article was extracted and edited for brevity from the History of the Church of St Vincent de Paul. The full article can be found at http://www.svdp.sg/history.