Jared Ng looks at the unique characteristics of the parish, among them an art ministry

St Anne’s Church is located in Sengkang, next to St Joseph’s

St Anne’s Church is home to an art ministry that decorates the church for certain festive occasions.

Located in Sengkang, the church also houses St Anne’s Kindergarten and is located next to St Joseph’s Convent.

Mother Teresa visited the parish when she came to Singapore in 1987 to set up the Missionaries of Charities’ Gift of Love Home.

Art ministry

Members of the Art Ministry in St Anne’s Church pull their resources to create beautiful works of art for various occasions in the liturgical calender. Lent, Easter, the parish feast day and Christmas are some of the occasions the group gets together to decorate the church.

Although there are just three members currently in the group, “with the support of our priests and guidance, we are able, in simple ways, to fulfil and carry out the works,” said Ms Esther Lim, who has been with the group since it was started in 2002 by Fr Richards Ambrose.

As some of the decoration works may take weeks to be ready, the ministry engages parishioners and members of other ministries to help.

According to Ms Lim, the next project the ministry will undertake will be Christmas. “All interested to help are welcomed, even if they aren’t from the parish.”

The front porch of St Anne’s Church decorated with lights during Christmas 2013.

Working with schools

About 280 kids, aged three to six, attend St Anne’s Kindergarten located within the church compound. They have classes from 8am-11am and from 11.15am-2.15pm.

Situated next door to St Anne’s Church is St Joseph’s Convent. According to Fr Francis, the church and the school share their premises for certain occasion such as the parish feast day or school carnival.

Teens also sleep over at the school during confirmation camps held in the church.

Mother Teresa praying in St Anne’s Church. She visited in 1987 to set up the Missionaries of Charities’ Gift of Love Home.

Mother Teresa’s visit

Mother Teresa first visited Singapore in 1976. In 1982, she was invited by Archbishop Gregory Yong to set up a Missionaries of Charity home in Singapore. The first Missionaries of Charity Sisters arrived in 1986.

During her second visit in 1987, she visited St Anne’s Church. The Gift of Love Home was set up and located in the parish.

It later moved to the Marymount area then Boon Lay.

Mother Teresa will be canonised by Pope Francis on Sept 4.                                       

Church figures

According to Fr Francis Lee, parish priest of St Anne’s Church, about 6,000 people attend Mass every weekend.

“There are a mixture of the young and old here,” said Fr Francis, 67, who has been serving in the church since 2011. 

He added, “There are new families coming for Mass as the number of new estates increase in the Punggol area. The elderly are those who have been here since the church land used to be

However, he expects a third of the parishioners to attend Mass at the Church of the Transfiguration once it is completed.

About 20 percent of the parishioners are Filipinos. Tagalog Mass is celebrated on the second Saturday of each month.

Teens going through catechetical formation are confirmed after three years in the   church. About 140 teens were confirmed this year.                                                

Youth community                                                                                                                                                                      
There are currently about 100 teens belonging to three youth communities in St Anne’s Church.

Most of them join the communities after their confirmation at the age of 15.

They meet every Friday night from 8pm-10pm. According to youth coordinator Christopher Lim, some of their programmes include Bible sharing and talks by various Religious.

Trips to the Jesuit-run Church of St Ignatius for Holy Hour and the Catholic Spirituality Centre for healing services have also been organised.

Mr Lim also said he hopes to bring the teens for mission work in the region.

Fr Francis Lee, 67, has been serving in the parish since 2011. 

A koi pond in the church. It is an attraction for children when they come for weekend Masses.

Syro-Malabar Catholic community

There are about 150 Syro-Malabar Catholics in the church.

The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church is one of the 22 Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome. It traces its origins back to India along with the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church.

The Syro-Malabar Mass, celebrated in Malayalam, is held on the fourth Saturday of each month.

The community has been in existence in Singapore since 2000.

Koi pond and bird enclosure

A koi pond and bird enclosure can also be found in the church. Parish volunteers feed the animals and maintain these areas.

“They add vibrancy to the parish,” said Fr Francis.

He said that children from the kindergarten and those who attend weekend Masses enjoy viewing the animals.

Feast day

The official feast day of St Anne is July 26. The church celebrates the occasion on the Sunday closest to the date.

Unlike most churches in Singapore who have triduum Masses in preparation for their feast day, St Anne’s Church has a nine-day Novena.

The parish also celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013. In honour of the milestone, a walkathon was organised to bring together parishioners and the various communities of the church.

For more information on the parish, visit http://stanneonline.org/ 

Youths from St Anne’s Church visiting homes of parishioners to sing Christmas carols.

History of St Anne’s Church

According to St Anne’s Church’s 50th anniversary magazine, the land where the church now stands was acquired in February 1961. Fr Hippolye Berthold was tasked with the building of the church.

At that time, there was a growing number of Catholics in the area who were mainly engaged in farming and small scale fishing.

The Church was blessed on July 26, 1963, by Archbishop Michael Olcomendy. Fr John Yu was the first parish priest.

The parish has since gone through various renovation projects including upgrading of the church building and columbarium.

A view of the old building of St Anne’s Church. It was blessed on July 26, 1963, by Archbishop Michael Olcomendy.