For Immediate Release
SINGAPORE, 14 Feb 2017 – Singapore’s oldest Catholic Church in Singapore, after undergoing three years of renovation, restoration and refurbishment has been restored to its former glory. Today marks the 120th Anniversary Celebrations of the Cathedral of Good Shepherd. The Cathedral was consecrated on 14 Feb 1897 and will be officially rededicated by Archbishop William Goh. The mass will be concelebrated together with the two Vicar Generals, Msgr Philip Heng, Cathedral’s Rector and Msgr Ambrose Vaz and Msgr Francis Lau and Fr Adrian Anthony. Among the invited guests are Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say. About 2,000 are expected to attend tonight’s celebrations.
History of the Cathedral
The original Church of the Good Shepherd was completed in 1847, as a bricked cross-shaped or cruciform building with timber upper floors and roof frames. It had four facades, the western facade being the entrance facing Queen’s Street.
Over the years, it underwent renovations at roughly 20-yr intervals, most recently in the mid 1990s. Among changes made after World War II, the original checkerboard tiled floors were replaced by mosaic, and the sanctuary wall was redesigned by pioneer architect Alfred Wong with the addition of a blue and gold radiating patterned mosaic altarpiece behind the crucifix.
Since 1847, the Mother Church in Singapore stood tall in the midst of Victoria Street. Over the years, cracks appeared behind the altar and the sacristy. Supporting structures were installed to prop up the severely damaged pillars at the east façade fronting Victoria Street, even as the bell tower began to tilt more precariously.
Relics of Saints to be Deposited into the Altar
Relics of St Francis Xavier and St Laurent Imbert will be deposited in the mensa of the altar, in the aperture. A Relic Certificate will also be placed in the altar during the Dedication Mass. Archbishop William Goh will lead the prayer of Dedication. Rites include the anointing the Altar and the Walls of the Cathedral, the Incensation of the Altar and the Cathedral, the covering the Altar and lighting of the Altar and the Cathedral and the unveiling of the Dedication Plaque.
What are Archbishop’s memories of the Cathedral?
“Before I was ordained, I hardly entered the Cathedral except for a few times to pray. It was like a sanctuary to me. I liked the tranquility and silence it offered. When I read the engravings on the memorial plaques, I felt connected and grateful to our forefathers, albeit with a sense of awe and reverence, particularly for those priests who have bought the Catholic Faith to Singapore.”
Archbishop William Goh added, “With the restoration of the Cathedral, my hope is that even as she continues to serve the foreign communities, she must help all Catholics in Singapore to truly identify themselves with her as the Mother Church. It is my hope one day, our Catholics in the Archdiocese will be more united in mission.
The Cathedral must reclaim its status as the Mother Church by being a centre for all Catholics to come together. She must be a model Church in the celebration of the liturgy according to the Roman Rite, where all participate actively and fervently in prayer and worship. In this way, foreign visitors to the Cathedral will have an experience of the richness and lively faith of the local Church. She should also strive to be a nerve centre for the Catholic community in Singapore, like a Mother gathering her children together and nurturing them.”
His Excellency Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Nuncio to Singapore said, “My wish for the Cathedral is that she will support the Archbishop as the Chief Shepherd of the Church in Singapore. It is from the heart of the Mother Church that beats the rhythm of Catholic life. Through her fitting liturgical celebrations that she will continue to nourish the spiritual life of the local Church and reach out to both locals and the many visitors that arrive at the shores of Singapore.”
The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd is the seat of the Archbishop of Singapore. It now holds a new basement which provides a venue for weekday Masses and a crypt for the remains of Bishops who have passed away.
The renovated Cathedral is fully air-conditioned, with a new flooring, pews and colour scheme said to be the original colour of the Cathedral with its prized pipe organ that has been restored.
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Issued by the Communications Office, dated Tuesday 14 February 2017