Learning about the Church in Kampong Bahru: Participants of the Pilgrimage In My Backyard at the Carmelite Monastery.
A group of Catholics learnt about the history surrounding the Church of St Teresa and its vicinity in a special pilgrimage tour.

Twenty-nine pilgrims gathered at the church in Kampong Bahru on Aug 31 for the tour, which combined history, heritage and spiritual reflection.

Participants learnt about how Paris Foreign Missions (MEP) priest, Fr Emile Mariette started the church, which was blessed in 1929, and Fr Stephen Lee, who became its first parish priest in 1935.

Learning about the Church in Kampong Bahru: Participants of the Pilgrimage In My Backyard at the Church of St Teresa

As the visitors were shown the unique features of the church’s architecture, altar and stained glass windows, they learnt how its patron, St Teresa (or St Therese) of Lisieux was determined to become a saint, and her simple but profound spirituality of “The Little Way”.

Participants learnt about the former Hood Lodge which was set up in the vicinity, and which provided shelter for the needy. It was here that the early Infant Jesus sisters ran a school for girls in the 1930s.

During the war, it housed women and homeless people. After the war, it was used as an orphanage and a place of refuge for seafarers.

The church still assists seafarers today, thanks to Scheut Missions priest, Fr Romeo Yu Chang.

The pilgrimage also drew attention to the important role the MEP priests played in Catholic education in the area, from St Teresa’s High School to CHIJ Kellock, De La Salle School and St Teresa’s Convent. They saw it as a way of educating children to be true Christians with the aim to prepare them for life.

Altar and stained glass at Church of St Teresa. The highlight for many participants was the visit to the nearby Carmelite Monastery.

Mr Mark Hansen said he loved the serenity and calm surrounding the church and monastery, adding that he deeply appreciated the sense of space here amidst crowded Singapore.

Mr Jerome Chow, 26, from the Church of Our Lady Star of the Sea, said the pilgrimage helped him to know more about the life of St Teresa, especially in its depiction in the church’s stained glass windows.

“Knowing about St Teresa’s philosophy of ‘The Little Way’ helped me understand that it is actually possible for us, too, to try and achieve goodness like her, in small … ways.”

CANA’s Pilgrimage In My Backyard (PIMBY) series aims to help Catholics discover and understand the rich stories behind the early Catholic churches in Singapore. For more information on this and other pilgrimages CANA conducts, email [email protected] or call 6338-4080.

By Michelle Scully