The new St Francis Xavier Seminary is next to St Joseph’s Church (Bukit Timah).

Jared Ng

Seminarians were reminded by Archbishop William Goh of the three leadership qualities they must have as they prepare for their formation to the priesthood, namely, humility, compassion and collaboration.

He acknowledged the many challenges that the Church faces today to attract young men and women to serve God as priests or Religious. The community has high expectations of the clergy, and it didn’t help with the recent sex abuse scandals involving the clerics. Archbishop Goh made these points in his homily to celebrate the opening and blessing of the newly completed St Francis Xavier Seminary on Aug 22. The seminary sits on freehold land next to St Joseph’s Church (Bukit Timah).

One way to combat the challenges is for Church leaders to be “good role models and examples” for future generations of leaders, he said. The real vocation promotion is through “living a life of joy and humble service” for Christ, he added.

Archbishop Goh, said that because the seminary now shares its premises with the Catholic Theological Institute of Singapore (CTIS) for the formation of laypeople, “there should be more collaborative efforts for the work of evangelisation for the growth of the Archdiocese.” He said laity and clergy must be co-responsible for teaching and sharing the Good News.

He reminded the seminarians to take their formation seriously and responsibly and this means working with everyone, including laypeople when it comes to formation.

Archbishop William Goh incensing during the blessing ceremony.

Seminary Rector Father Valerian Cheong expressed his gratitude to all involved in building the seminary and hopes that “the seminary will continue being that beacon of light for the faith of the people of God here in Singapore. Also, that it brings about a renewal and a growth of vocations to the priesthood in these challenging times.”

Brother Timothy Soo, a second-year seminarian, said the official blessing of the seminary represented “a renewal of life” for him.

He is looking forward to continue building a fraternal bond with his fellow seminarians and “to bring this brotherhood to the Church”.

Br Shaun Lim, who is in his fourth year regency programme, expressed his joy and happiness as “we seminarians now have a place we can call our own”.

He said he hopes that the community spirit and the shared experiences of Christ within the seminary can be a place to produce shepherds for the Church.

There are currently 10 seminarians living in the four-storey seminary building with a basement. It is shared with CTIS when laypeople come for their formation and studies.

Father Valerian Cheong blessing the building which he hopes will bring “about a renewal and a growth of vocations to the priesthood”.

The two upper floors of the building are dedicated to the seminary. There are live-in quarters for seminarians and priests, a dining room and kitchen, gym, prayer room and chapel with an open-to-sky courtyard with a Marian water feature.

The CTIS office is on the first floor, while the second floor houses the seminary offices and quarters for priests.

The first floor and basement are for common use by the seminary, CTIS and other Church groups on an availability basis.

There are 10 classrooms, a multi-purpose hall, a meeting room, a canteen and a two-storey library that is managed by

The topics covered in the eight years of seminary studies are:

1st year – Initiation Year.
2nd year – Philosophy Studies.
3rd year – Philosophy Studies.
4th year – Regency year (usually in the parish, but not necessarily).
5th-8th years – Theology Studies. 

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The St Francis Xavier Major Seminary was established by the late Archbishop Gregory Yong in 1983, with Fr Noel Chin as the first Rector.

From 1983-1987, the major seminary operated at the premises of the minor seminary at Upper Serangoon Road. In August 1987, it moved to its new location at 199 Punggol Seventeenth Avenue. It was officially opened and blessed on Jan 28, 1988, by Archbishop Yong.

On Dec 30, 2015, the major seminary made another move to its temporary premises at the Church of St Teresa.
In November 2016, a groundbreaking service was held to kickstart construction works of the new seminary at St Joseph’s Church.