Archbishop Nicholas Chia officiating at the Feb 12 celebration during which he blessed a church building extension.

The Church of St Ignatius celebrated its golden jubilee on Feb 12 with the blessing of its St Ignatius Hall extension by Archbishop Nicholas Chia.

In addition to a special cake-cutting ceremony and a presentation of a plaque to the archbishop for his support of the parish, Filipino parishioners also put on a cultural performance.

The parish has come a long way since its genesis in 1957, when then Archbishop Michael Olcomendy invited the Jesuits to construct a church and run a parish in the archdiocese’s West district.

The church building, completed in February 1961 with a seating capacity of about 400, gave way to a new one in 2004 with a seating capacity of 900. The number of weekend Masses has also increased to seven to serve the estimated 4,200 parishioners.

Parishioners say their parish has grown in vibrancy under the leadership of the priests who encouraged lay participation.

The archbishop, priests of the parish and other Jesuit priests cut the jubilee cake.

When Jesuit Fr Philip Heng took over as parish priest in 2009, a new parish goal, with its constituent spiritual, communitarian and social mission dimensions, have guided people towards “finding God in myself, others and all situations for God’s greater glory”.

Fr Heng told CatholicNews the parish community strives to live the Ignatian Spirituality of experiencing God through spiritual programmes, such as praying with sacred Scripture, especially during important liturgical seasons and feast days.

The parish also participates actively in ecumenical services and interreligious activities, such as joining Muslims in their breaking of fast during Ramadan, says Fr Heng.

In addition, the parish aims to promote a climate of inclusiveness, whereby all are part of the community regardless of backgrounds, as well as a greater consciousness of the needy both in Singapore and overseas.

The church runs a daily soup kitchen for migrant workers and also provides financial grants to needy Muslims in Pertapis children’s homes.

A large number of Filipina domestic workers are active in the parish, which hosts the annual Simbang Gabi Masses for the Filipino community, says Mr Philip Tong, a parishioner of 20 years.

On the church being labelled a “rich church,” Mr Malcolm Murfett, a parishioner of 30 years, does not deny that there are successful parishioners among the congregation. However, the community welcomes everyone regardless of the person’s status, he added. The expatriate community has also been given the opportunity to be involved in ministry work, he said.

There is a heightened awareness of living the parish goal these days, said Mr Murfett.

Mr Tong said that a number of parishioners not attached to any parish ministry has also come forward to participate in the parish’s social mission activities, such as fund-raising and assisting in the soup kitchen.

By Darren Boon
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