Fr John Baptist Tou (1929-2017)

Fr John Baptist Tou, a diocesan priest in Singapore, passed away on 7 December 2017. He was 88. This was also the year of his diamond jubilee as a priest.

John Baptist Tou was born in Siping, China, on 17 March 1929. His father taught Chinese to foreign missionaries in the local seminary. At 16, the young John Baptist joined the same seminary to begin his juniorate. In 1947, the war in China led to the forcible shut down of the seminary in Siping.

In order to pursue his vocation, John Baptist fled to Beijing and then to British Hong Kong. He later received a visa to study in Manila, in a disused military camp donated by the Philippine government to the Jesuits. He completed his philosophy studies in this repurposed site and subsequently finished his theology studies with the Quebec Missionary Society of Canada in Montreal, Canada. His bishop in China had been a member of that missionary society.

Fr Tou was ordained a priest on 29 June 1957.

Under Rome’s instruction, in 1959, Fr Tou was assigned to Singapore where he served in Nativity Church in Hougang. He taught Mandarin in the Minor Seminary across the road from his parish. With the help of several young Catholics, Fr Tou set up the Joyful Vanguard, Eucharistic Crusade, Legion of Mary, Young Christian Students (YCS) and Young Christian Workers (YCW). With their help, other parishes also started similar organisations.

In 1978, Fr Tou had to return to the United States due to visa problems. While there, he made it a point to return to Singapore every year for his vacation. After his visa issues had been resolved, realising that Mandarin would be of great advantage to evangelisation in Singapore, he returned in 1995.

Fr Tou served as assistant parish priest at the Church of the Holy Family, where he initiated Mandarin Masses and parish organisations for the Mandarin-speaking. He was parish priest from 2000-2002. In 2006, Fr Tou was appointed assistant parish priest at the Church of St Bernadette, ministering specially to the Mandarin community. He found great joy in celebrating the Mandarin Mass.

Fr Tou’s wake is currently held at the Church of St Bernadette. Prayer services will be held nightly at 8 pm (English) and 9 pm (Mandarin).

Please note that the church will close by 11 pm.

Details of funeral

Date: 11 December 2017
Time: 10.30 am
Venue: Church of St Bernadette
12 Zion Rd, Singapore 247731

Cremation will follow after at Mandai Crematorium, Hall 4.

We invite you to pray for him in your Masses and prayers.