Fr Michael Seet has a special place in the history of the Catholic Church in Singapore as he was the first Singapore-born Chinese to be ordained a priest in 1911. His ordination on 2 July 1911 at the Church of St Peter and Paul was attended by then acting Governor, Sir John Anderson.
After his ordination, Fr Seet served at the parish of Saints Peter and Paul for two years. In 1912 he moved to St Anne’s Church in Penang. In 1931 he returned to Church of Sts Peter and Paul.
Fr Seet came from a devout Catholic family who served the church for several generations. His father, Seet Twa Tee (or ‘Shi Tao’ as he was sometimes known), was a dedicated catechist for 42 years, from 1883 to 1925. His uncle, Augustine Seet Kiam Koo, served as the church sacristan from the age of 15 and was still carrying out his duties at the age 81 when he received the Papal Medal from Pope John XXIII, the highest award given to laymen in recognition of meritorious service to the Pope and Church. Fr Seet’s nephew, Francis Seet, continued the family tradition of serving as church sacristan. After Francis passed away, his wife Theresa Lai Ah Neo took over as church sacristan until 2008 when she stepped down and passed the mantle to her son Lawrence. Both Francis and Theresa Seet earned the prestigious Benemerenti Medal from Saint John Paul II for long service.