Mr Augustine Pereira, 85, (in wheelchair) and Prof James Newton Boss, 67, received the Benemerenti medal from apostolic nuncio Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli (centre). Also present at the event were St Joseph’s Church parish priest Fr Ignatius Yeo and Fr Brian Wysocki, a Marist priest from New Zealand. Photo: DOMINIC WONGMr Augustine Pereira, 85, (in wheelchair) and Prof James Newton Boss, 67, received the Benemerenti medal from apostolic nuncio Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli (centre). Also present at the event were St Joseph’s Church parish priest Fr Ignatius Yeo and Fr Brian Wysocki, a Marist priest from New Zealand. Photo: DOMINIC WONG

Two pioneer parishioners of St Joseph’s Church (Victoria Street) have been awarded the papal Benemerenti medal for their devoted service to the parish community.

Mr Augustine Pereira, 85, and Prof James Newton Boss, 67, were presented with the award by apostolic nuncio Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli at a Mass on Oct 31.

The papal honour was instituted by Pope Gregory XVI in 1832 and is conferred on those who have exhibited long and exceptional service to the Church. The word benemerenti translates to “a well deserving person”.

Mr Pereira joined the parish’s children’s choir at the age of seven and continued on to the adult choir. He was also an altar server, especially during the painful Japanese Occupation, when he assisted in many funerals.

He was also a long-standing Vincentian, and served as a warden and informal “car-park attendant” from the 1950s, until ill health in 2003 prevented him from doing so.

Prof Boss is a distinguished member of St Joseph’s Church, the Portuguese community and the educational fraternity.

He contributed to local Church history when he wrote The Portuguese Mission in Singapore (1825-1999): St Joseph’s Church. He also  secured the grant from the Preservations of Monument Board which enabled the stained glass windows of the church to be restored to their former glory.

In addition to being chairman of the Parish Pastoral Council and a long-standing member of other organisations, Prof Boss has also assisted the church in innumerable negotiations in securing its Catholic heritage status.

He was conferred knighthood by Rome in 2007 – The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta.

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