Catholic News features the Church of St Ignatius in this series on parish communities.
The Church of St Ignatius serves about 6,500 parishioners every weekend.
Helping to create a sustainable earth deserves the attention of everyone. Reasons for going green include protecting wildlife to curbing the effects of global warming.
So important is this subject that even Pope Francis in his encyclical, Laudato Si’, on care for our common home, said that “we need a conversation that includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all”.
The Church of St Ignatius, at King’s Road, has taken up this call to go green by reducing the use of plastic and prioritising programmes that raise awareness on creating a sustainable environment.
Even caterers appointed for the church’s events are reminded not to use any plastic plates or cutlery; the weekend canteen is also moving away from the use of single-use plastics.
A Farmer’s Market event was held in September to push the parish’s green movement. During the event, parishioners could buy organically farmed vegetables, fruits and herbs and view the edible garden in the church. Volunteer gardeners were also present to share about planting edibles.
A second Farmer’s Market was scheduled to take place on Nov 3.
A Farmer’s Market event with focus on organically farmed vegetables.
“There has to be a conversion of lifestyle … and a move towards a greener environment,” said Jesuit parish priest Fr Colin Tan, 57, who has given talks on Laudato Si’ to ministries to get them involved with the green movement.
He plans to get speakers to share about environmental pollution and hopes that this movement towards a more sustainable earth can be an example for other parishes to follow.
As a Jesuit-run parish, St Ignatius Church also places an emphasis on sharing the Ignatian spirituality with parishioners. According to Fr Colin, the Ignatian spirituality is “a spirituality for everyday life”.
It is a pathway to “deeper prayer, good decisions guided by discernment, and living a life of service to others”.
Next year, he plans to conduct an parish-wide Ignatian retreat as part of an ongoing formation of the laity.
This formation includes a social mission thrust which has seen the church support refugees such as the Rohingya in Myanmar. During the church’s feast day celebrations on July 29 – in honour of St Ignatius of Loyala’s July 31 feast day – about $800,000 was raised for the Rohingya refugees, said Fr Colin, who has served as parish priest since January this year.
In October 2017, the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) put up a Prayer Awareness Display over three weekends for St Ignatius parishioners to reflect on and pray for the plight of the refugees in Myanmar.
The foyer in front of the main church played host to pictures and contemplations on the refugee crisis, their living conditions, and the struggles they are facing.
For October this year, parishioners were encouraged to pray the rosary and lift up their prayer intentions to Mary by using Post-it notes. The notes are then pasted onto a rosary bouquet and prayer wall to form a cross. This initiative is part of the Pope’s appeal to pray for the Catholic Church to fight against evil.
For October, parishioners were encouraged lift up their prayer intentions to Mary by using
Some of the prayers written on Post-it notes.
On weekday evenings, the youth spend their time in the church studying and enjoying each other’s company. The De Vita Christi Youth Community (DVC) of St Ignatius Church, established in 2010, is made up of five youth ministries – the RCIY, worship ministry, facilitators ministry, youth choir and a young adults ministry.
“We try to make the youth feel that the church is also a space of fun and a place where they can just hang out,” said youth coordinator Ms Cheryl Lek. Throughout the year, the DVC, with about 250 members, works with the catechists to run catechism camps and faith formation programmes that focus on individual and communal growth.
Of the estimated 6,500 parishioners that the church serves every weekend, about 300 are from the expatriate community, coming from places such as Africa, America, Mexico, England, Poland, Italy and Japan.
Activities such as wreath-making workshops during Advent and social gatherings, known as Fish Fry, enable
local and foreign parishioners to enjoy food, games and fellowship, and are organised to help foreigners integrate into the life of the parish.
Catechism classes for students from internationals schools are also available. Known as the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD), they are run by volunteers with the support of catechists.
Members of the expatriate community taking part in a wreath-making workshop. History
In late 1957, Archbishop Michael Olcomendy requested the Jesuits to build and run a parish church in the West district of Singapore.
Irish Father Kevin O’Dwyer was the clerk-of-works responsible for overseeing the construction of the church. When it was opened on Feb 12, 1961, he was appointed parish priest, a position he held till September 1974.
The church has been self-supporting since its opening. When there was a need for a parish hall and catechetical centre, parishioners were able to raise enough funds to build these facilities which were completed in July 1973.
The new parish hall extension, which was used for classes, meetings and the Sunday canteen was completed in 1990. That same year, the sanctuary in the church was re-constructed.
The church celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011.