Church of the Holy Family

Completed on 19th June 1932, the Holy Family parish became a vibrant focal point for the Eurasian and Peranakan communities in Katong.

The beginnings of the Church of the Holy Family started as early as 1902 when Eurasian landowners in the East would join the La Salle brothers for prayers and mass in a makeshift hut near the East Coast beach. Mr James Scheerder went on to do more as he donated a plot of land that was used to build a chapel that was consecrated in November 1923. At the donor’s request, the Church was dedicated to the Holy Family of Nazareth.

As more families moved to eastern Singapore, especially the Straits-born Chinese or Peranankans and the Eurasian communities, Katong grew to be a vibrant part of Singapore. Many were converted to Catholicism and soon became part of the growing congregation at the “Katong Church” as the Church of the Holy Family was more affectionately known as.

However by the late 1920s, it was evident that the congregation was much larger than its chapel space and plans got underway to erect a new building on the existing site. Completed in 19 June 1932, the new Holy Family parish became a vibrant focal point for the Eurasian and Peranakan communities in Katong, especially on Sundays when parishioners would gather in the bakeries and coffee shops nearby after mass.  These two communities brought with them an eclectic blend of culture, food and fashion unique to Katong. So prevalent was the influence of the Peranakan community that the Church of the Holy Family remains the sole Catholic Church in Singapore to celebrate Peranakan masses on the eve of every Lunar New Year, which was a practice that was started by Father Alfred Chan, the first Singaporean parish priest of the Church.

In April 1936, Father Ruaudel was appointed Parish Priest of the new parish and the first Christmas Midnight Mass was celebrated that same year. Until 1961, the Church of the Holy Family remained the only Roman Catholic Church attending to the spiritual needs of the faithful in the eastern side of this island.

In 1965, the church started an expansion project with funds raised among parishioners. Notable changes that were completed by 1970 included additions made to the church building, the building of a new wing facing Sea Avenue, and the construction of a two-storey Youth and Welfare Centre and a two-storey presbytery.

In December 1999, a new church building that took some two years to build was completed. It included a basement columbarium, a 2,000 seating capacity church, meeting rooms and a multipurpose hall, as well as a children’s play centre. The new church has a sixteen-panel stained glass that was imported from Italy, and installed behind the altar. The front sculptures of the church building were the only parts that were retained from the original church.

In 2013, the Church of the Holy Family launched the focus of ‘Living the Faith’ for her congregation and three parish priorities – families, the less fortunate and overseas parishioners – were initiated to become the focal points driving the church forward.


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