Project includes fixing wall cracks and uneven floor surfaces
Msgr Philip Heng, St Joseph’s Church rector, points to the 105-year-old church building now stripped of its layers of paint.
By Jared Ng
St Joseph’s Church (Victoria Street) will be closed for a year and possibly longer, starting from Aug 1, as it undergoes repainting, repairs and restoration works.
Church rector Msgr Philip Heng told Catholic News, “The building has deteriorated over the past years and is in serious need of a comprehensive restoration.”
He explained that the building has shifted due to ground settlement, resulting in uneven floor surfaces leading to the sanctuary. There are also cracks along the exterior and interior walls and a shifting of the roof.
The electrical, lighting and sound systems will also need to be coordinated, he said.
A crack can be seen along a wall in the church.
Since taking over as rector of the 105-year-old St Joseph’s Church earlier this year, Msgr Heng has expanded upon the restoration initiative started by previous rector Fr Ignatius Yeo, and followed-up by Fr Alex Chua and Fr Augustine Tay, during their tenure as rectors.
The initial idea was to paint over the church building, said Msgr Heng. However when he took over as rector, he felt that more work was needed.
Msgr Heng, who is also rector of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, added that the preliminary estimated cost of the project will be at least $4 million and that fundraising would be needed.
Work began in January with the stripping of numerous layers of paint on the exterior of the building.
These had covered up intricate decorative details such as a pattern of leaves and flowers discovered at the front porch, similar to Portuguese colonial features commonly found in buildings in Melaka.
Intricate decorative details, such as a pattern of leaves and flowers on the front porch, were discovered after the paint was removed.
The statues of saints in alcoves inside the church, which are of French origin, have been removed for safe keeping and restoration where needed.
The former Portuguese-mission church will hold its last Mass on the July 29-30 weekend.
To cater to the congregation of St Joseph’s Church, the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd will hold an additional Sunday 1 pm Mass as well as additional 6.30 pm weekday Masses starting from Aug 1. The Our Lady of Fatima devotion will also be held on the 13th of each month from May to October.
The statues of various saints have been removed for safe keeping and restoration where needed.
St Joseph’s Church was gazetted as a national monument in 2005.
In 2014, 72 stained glass panels were restored. These will not be affected by the current restoration, said Msgr Heng.
In 2016, the parochial house was gazetted for conservation as part of the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s efforts to protect Singapore’s building heritage.
Preliminary restoration works have begun in the interior of the church.