Plans in Motion to Revitalise and Grow the Archdiocese

Since charting its pastoral vision, the Archdiocese has embarked on a series of new initiatives to build a more vibrant, missionary and evangelistic Church.

Mr Mark Goh, Chairperson of the Archdiocesan Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants & Itinerant People (ACMI), discusses the challenges and future plans of the organisation with leaders and staff of Catholic organisations during an alignment meeting. Photo: Office for New Evangelisation

Since Archbishop William Goh assumed office in 2013 and expressed a wish for a more vibrant, missionary and evangelistic Church, over 100 archdiocesan organisations have stepped up their programmes for families, youths, evangelisation, migrants, and other areas in a concerted effort to see this vision take shape.

But going beyond merely working harder, a series of projects have also been initiated by the archbishop and various priests, religious and lay leaders of the archdiocese, to facilitate the growth of the Church.

The ongoing and pipeline initiatives enhances operational efficiencies and governance, and helps to better coordinate the workings of the many parts of the Church.

Planning as Christ does

One of these initiatives was the creation of the Archdiocesan Strategic Planning & Resource Committee (ASPR) in 2014.

Made up of priests and experienced professionals from relevant backgrounds, such as in the finance, legal and building sectors, the ASPR plans for the much needed resources to realise the pastoral vision of the archdiocese.

Together with the Archdiocesan Finance Commission (AFC), the ASPR assists four subcommittees: the Operating Finance and Grants Committee, Parish Finance Oversight Committee, Fundraising Coordination Committee, and Investment Committee.

There are also plans to establish a new Archdiocesan Audit Committee (AAC) and Internal Audit Division to manage the resources of the archdiocese. They will report directly to the Archbishop of Singapore.

Plans are also underway for the accounts of the archdiocese, including its parishes, to be subject to an external audit and for the financial statements to be published by 2018. The various committees under the AFC, together with the AAC and Archdiocesan Finance Division, are in the process of drafting standards and guidelines for managing the Church’s accounts.

Communion in mission

Another important initiative is to align the strategic plans of all the organisations in the archdiocese.

In a pastoral letter published early this year, Archbishop William Goh affirmed that “if our mission is to bring all into communion with the Holy Trinity, then we must seek every means to foster communion in our Church ministries, organisations, parishes and archdiocesan bodies, whether they are full-time workers, volunteers or helpers.”

To this end, the Catholic Foundation (CF) has initiated workshops conducted by one of its board members, Mr Andrew Sng, to help key organisations kick-start planning.

Mass being celebrated at the Church of Divine Mercy in Pasir Ris. The lease for the land on which the parish sits on will expire in 2036. Photo: VITA Photo

Mr Sng has also worked with the Office for New Evangelisation (ONE) to help the various organisations align their respective programmes.

These alignment meetings take place monthly, each consisting of a time for prayer, discussion, sharing and brainstorming on ways to work with one another in bringing the vision of the archdiocese to reality.

Physical infrastructure

Another area being looked into is the properties of the Church.

In land-scarce Singapore, the optimal use of any buildings and properties are crucial in allowing the Church to grow unhindered by physical limitations.

The Archdiocesan Land & Properties Singapore (ALPS), which was formed in December 2009, takes on this task. The group is currently developing a master plan of the Church’s properties to study how to accommodate the growing needs of the Church.

At the same time, ALPS is studying the renewal of leases and ageing properties of the archdiocese, and the creation of sinking funds to make provisions when these are due.

More than a dozen properties of the Church are sitting on leasehold land today, each facing a risk of being lost if the archdiocese has insufficient funds to renew their leases when they expire.

With these projects helping to pave the way for growth, the vision to be a more vibrant, missionary and evangelistic Church is truly within reach for the archdiocese.

Expanding Facilities for our Community

As the archdiocese continues toward its pastoral vision, there is the urgency to improve, build and maintain its physical structures to support the Church’s

An artist’s impression of Bethany East, previously a private residence (left) which will be refurbished (right) for retired priests. Works begin in January 2017. Photo: Archdiocesan Land and Properties Singapore

Alongside the Catholic Church’s mission to “bring to all men that light of Christ” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 748), there is also a need for physical growth to take place, so that the Church has the necessary space, facilities and buildings to be able to serve others.

This is why, as the archdiocese works toward its pastoral vision to be a more vibrant, missionary, and evangelistic Church, new building projects are also being planned to cater for the growing needs of the Church in Singapore.

Caring for retired priests

The first of these building projects is Bethany East, a residence for ageing priests in Singapore.
There are 160 priests in the Archdiocese of Singapore today, of which nearly a third have been in the priesthood for more than 30 years.

With the number of retired priests expected to rise, the residence will provide a much needed place of rest for those who have devoted their lives to the care of others.

“Bethany East will be a 7,000 sq ft, two-storey detached house with an attic and optimally designed to be elderly friendly. It will feature a lift for easier access, a prayer room, and en-suite bathrooms for each bedroom,” said Mr Gerard Tan, chairperson of the building committee for Bethany East.

The residence will be able to accommodate about eight retired priests. Bethany East will also be located along Changi Road, a short walk from the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, where the priests can continue to play an active role in the community.

Renovation of Bethany East is expected to start in January 2017, and is estimated to take a year to complete. It will cost S$3.1 million.

Training seminarians

The archdiocese is also ramping up training facilities for future priests with a new seminary and theology training centre.

Slated to be built on a plot of freehold land in front of St Joseph’s Church (Bukit Timah), the four-storey building will feature lecture rooms, a canteen/café, a multi-purpose hall, a library, and a chapel. It will also be capable of accommodating over 20 resident seminarians and formators.

“The new seminary and formation building, when completed, will provide the Catholic Church with new and better teaching and accommodation facilities as compared to existing facilities at Punggol. The development will help to promote a more efficient overall use of the archdiocese’s properties,” said Mr Winston Hauw, the chairperson of the new seminary’s building committee.

Artist’s impression of the new seminary building in front of St Joseph’s Church (Bukit Timah). Photo: Archdiocesan Land and Properties Singapore

Facilities at the new seminary will also be shared with other formation institutes such as the Catholic Theological Institute of Singapore, which offers formal theological programmes for lay Catholics.

This enables the new building to be optimally utilised, while the crunch faced at other properties like the Catholic Centre and Catholic Archdiocesan Education Centre can be eased.

A ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of the seminary building was held on 26 October. Construction is expected to take one and a half years, and will cost S$19 million.

Archdiocesan Centre

In line with the vision of the archdiocese, the number of retreats, talks, courses, programmes, services and other initiatives developed by over 100 archdiocesan organisations are expected to increase in the years to come.

At present, however, the Church is already facing a squeeze to provide the needed space and facilities for the numerous programmes of archdiocesan organisations.

To optimise land usage in response to these needs, a plot of freehold land on 49 Upper Thomson Road is planned to be redeveloped as a centre for the archdiocese’s activities.

St Theresa’s Home, which is currently located there, will be moved to a new location with upgraded facilities.

“Plans are still being studied and refined before they are submitted to the authorities, but some features that have been proposed include a residential training and retreat centre, a 2,000-seat auditorium, an adoration chapel, intercessory rooms, office space for archdiocesan organisations, a centre for the youth, a family centre, and a home for retired priests (in addition to Bethany East),” said Mr Augustine Tan, Chairman of the Archdiocesan Land and Properties Singapore (ALPS).

ALPS assists the building committee of each building project in the archdiocese, in consultation with the archbishop.

Situated in a prime location easily accessible by public transport, the centre is crucial in the realisation of the archdiocese’s vision. By housing multiple Catholic organisations together under one roof, Catholics in Singapore will, for the first time, have a one-stop centre for their spiritual formation and other needs.

An entire family, from grandparents to grandchildren, for instance, can benefit from the various programmes of organisations like the Archdiocesan Commission for the Family (ACF), Catholic Spirituality Centre, and the Office for
Young People (OYP), in the same convenient and suitable location.

The project is still in its preliminary design stage, and may be constructed in phases upon final approvals from relevant authorities. The centre is estimated to cost S$150 million.

“We are faced with a challenging task to build these much needed projects. But I believe with God’s grace, as well as the support and prayers of every Catholic, we will be able to complete these projects for the future generations of our Church,” Mr Tan affirmed.

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