A look at the Church of Sts Peter and Paul in this series on parish communities


Sts Peter and Paul Church was gazetted by the government as a national monument in 2003.

Jared Ng

A spirit of prayer.

This is what the Carmelite friars, who run the Church of Sts Peter and Paul at Queen St, share with the faithful.

The Order of the Carmelites Discalced Friars was established in Singapore in 1997 and they were given the parish to run in February 1998.

Every morning, all seven Carmelite friars – six priests and a Brother – pray the Divine Office with the laity before Mass as well as attend the celebration.

The feast days of Carmelite saints – such as St Teresa of Avila, foundress of the Carmelites, and St John of the Cross – are celebrated in the church. These are also occasions for parishioners to know more about the Carmelite charism (see below).

On such days, a relic of the saint is displayed in the church for the faithful to venerate.

  
Bone fragments of St Peter (left) and St Paul.

Assisting the friars in their mission is the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCDS).

Made up of 59 laypeople, they support the friars in activities such as the recent 12-hour Eucharistic Adoration on the feast of Corpus Christi, where they led a 30-minute reflection as well as prayed Lauds (morning prayer).

The group, founded on Oct 30, 1978, by the Carmelite Sisters, meets every third Sunday of the month and its activities centre around spiritual formation for its members and in praying for the prayer intentions.

On Thursdays, many of the faithful attend the Infant Jesus of Prague devotion at 5.30 pm where prayer intentions are lifted up and thanksgiving letters are read.

The faithful also spend time adoring the Blessed Sacrament during the devotion, which has its roots in the Carmelite tradition.


Parishioners attending a Triduum Mass at the newly restored church in 2016.

The Sion Adorers, another devotion, gather every Saturday at 7.45 pm before the Blessed Sacrament to pray for the parish.

Another distinctive feature of Sts Peter and Paul Church is its Cantonese community.

About 120 members of the community attend Mass in the dialect every Sunday at 2 pm.

On the last Sunday of each month, a potluck lunch is organised for members with birthdays that month.

Coming up on Aug 9, a Cantonese retreat will be held with rosary recitation, a healing service and praise and worship.

The parish also conducts Cantonese RCIA.


Archbishop William Goh has a go at dunking Fr Edward Lim during the church’s feast day carnival on July 1.

Parish priest Fr Edward Lim said because of its downtown location, it is common to see office workers visit the church during lunch time to pray and enjoy the silence.

On July 1, the church celebrated its feast day with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop William Goh. A carnival was held in the compound.

Fr Edward said the theme of this year’s feast day, The Cost of Discipleship, aimed at empowering laypeople to live a chaste life, to live a life of poverty in spirit and to practise obedience to God’s will.

Looking ahead to their 150th anniversary in 2020, Fr Edward said there are plans to release a special coffee-table book commemorating the church’s history and milestones.


The Infant Jesus of Prague Devotion is held every Thursday.


The Carmelite charism

Prayer is at the centre of the Carmelite vocation.

For the Carmelites, the prophet Elijah is their example of prayer and action: Elijah recognises, through silent contemplation, the presence of the living God in the gentle breeze on Mt Sinai.

With burning zeal for the glory of the only true God, in whose presence he stands in prayer, Elijah wins the people of Israel back to true worship of the Lord in spirit and in truth.

Like Elijah, the Carmelite’s prayer flows into the service of his community and to others. The fruits of his prayer are not private possessions but are gifts to benefit those who come into contact with him.

Embracing the Blessed Virgin Mary as his mother, sister and queen, the Carmelite looks to her as his teacher, companion and model of prayer, pondering lovingly on God’s word and putting it into practice.


History


Early photo of the church.

The Church of Sts Peter and Paul was built in 1870 to cater to the growing Chinese Catholic community.

The construction of the building was helmed by Fr Pierre Paris who had arrived in Singapore in 1865.

Fr Pierre died on May 23, 1883, and was buried in the church he built.

Since then, the church has undergone several renovations and expansions, notably in 1891, 1910, 1969 and 2001.

The church building was gazetted as a national monument in 2003.

In 2014, the church went through its latest restoration project and was officially dedicated on June 29,
2016.

After successful completion of the restoration, it received the URA (Urban Redevelopment Authority) Architectural
Heritage Award for Restoration on Oct 6, 2016.

Today, it is Singapore’s second oldest Catholic church after the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. 

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