The “Cenacle” (from the word coenaculum) is the Upper Room in the Scriptures where Jesus instituted the Eucharist at the Last Supper; it is the room where the disciples returned after Ascension and together with Mary, devoted themselves to prayer. It was in the Cenacle that the Holy Spirit came to them at Pentecost and from there proclaimed the Good News to the world.
It is in the spirit of the first Cenacle that the Cenacle Sisters of today give themselves to the work of the Holy Spirit in renewal and transformation of the world.
The Religious of the Cenacle is an international congregation founded in 1826 in southern France. Its distinctive spirituality blends the mystery of Mary in the Cenacle, the charism of the founders, Fr Stephen Terme and St. Therese Couderc, and the Ignatian influence. Originally founded to respond to the needs of a people whose faith was tested by the French Revolution, the congregation continues the work of its founders by responding to the spiritual needs of the people of our time.
Since the 1970s, the Cenacle Sisters would come to Singapore to give retreats and spiritual formation programs in response to the archdiocese’s growing need and desire for awakening and deepening of faith. In 1983, the Conference of Religious Major Superiors and the Singapore Pastoral Institute, headed by then-Fr. Nicholas Chia, invited Jesuit Fathers John Reilly and Bob Rice to train spiritual directors for the archdiocese. Two members of this team of trainers were Cenacle Sisters Pat Clouston and Linda Lizada. Thereafter, they and other Cenacle Sisters would continue conducting formation programs for spiritual directors and lay people.
At that time, a young catechist, Francisca Tan, helped in welcoming the Sisters. This encounter led to her first silent retreat which changed her life. In 1987, Francisca entered the Cenacle Pre-Novitiate in the Philippines. She became the first Singaporean Cenacle vocation.
Ten years later, Sister Francisca returned to Singapore. Upon the invitation of Archbishop Gregory Yong, the Cenacle Foundation in Singapore was established on July 7, 1997. The Sisters set up their residence and main place for ministry at the former IJ Sisters compound at 47 Jurong West Street 42. There, and in other retreat centres, they offer programs on holistic spiritual formation, values formation, retreats, spiritual accompaniment and mentoring.
In recent years, two young Singaporean women joined the Religious of the Cenacle, namely, Xiao Wei Li and Christine Lam. Other Sisters from the region also visit and share their resources and gifts.
Living the Gospel radically in our world today, the Cenacle Sisters strive to live their mission by a life of prayer, life in community and through apostolic life in the service of the Church. In the footsteps of St Therese Couderc, the Cenacle Sisters in Singapore continue to awaken and deepen faith to make Jesus known and loved.
Contributed by: The Cenacle Sisters