Catholic Chinese migrant workers listen to Patricia Chia present a talk on “Who is Jesus”.
Photo by Darren Boon

SINGAPORE – Catholic migrant workers from China say that the monthly faith formation classes held at Church of Sts. Peter and Paul are enriching and help them deepen their faith.

A construction worker Chen Shun Qiang, 34, from Hebei, told CatholicNews that the monthly third Sunday evening talks help strengthen his faith and that he has gained a deeper understanding about Jesus and God.

“We may be Catholic but our knowledge of God is limited back home in China,” Mr Chen said in Mandarin.

Fellow construction worker Wang Zhan Qiang, 37, is a cradle Catholic also from Hebei. He said that it was only natural for him to want to attend a Catholic church in Singapore, and expressed hope that the classes will help bolster his faith.

While Mr Wang has some knowledge of Catholicism, he pointed out that the sensitivities of the state towards religion in China do not allow open discussion of religion, unlike in Singapore which enjoys religious freedom.

The talks draw some 30 Chinese migrant construction workers.

The latest session held Nov 15, focused on the birth of Jesus, His humanity seen through His baptism and temptations, and His divinity seen through the miracles He worked.

The faith formation classes aim to deepen the knowledge and faith of these transient workers and equip them with the knowledge to evangelise and share their faith with others back home in China where they will return upon expiration of their work permits.

The parish also holds a monthly first Sunday Mass at 8.00pm for the migrant workers.

The construction workers toil daily till evening, sometimes working overtime. This allows them to attend Mass only on late Sunday evenings. However, most weekend Mandarin Masses in the diocese are held in the mornings.

The workers last celebrated Mass on Nov 1 on the Solemnity of All Saints together with another group of Chinese migrants from the Pilgrims’ Abode (Tu Yang Zhi Jia).

Most Pilgrims’ Abode members are from Fujian. They include students, factory workers, language tutors, among other professions outside the construction industry.

One member Joseph Chen, a 21-year-old student from Fujian, said that he found the combined Mass very meaningful.

“Pilgrims’ Abode is open to all Chinese nationals, not just those from Fujian. It’s very heartening that through God’s grace we can gather together as one for Mass,” he said in Mandarin.

“When I called my wife back home, I told her that the Catholics I’ve encountered here are very passionate and helpful. They know so much more about the Bible and the liturgy,” Mr Zhang Li Qiang, 35, a construction worker, said in Mandarin. “I’ve learnt a lot of things here and it renewed my understanding of God.”

Mass for Chinese Nationals 8.00pm, every 1st Sunday of the month
Faith Formation & Baptism 7.30-9.30pm, every 3rd Sunday of the month
Venue: Church of Sts. Peter & Paul (225A Queen Street)
Contact Francis at 9818 0079

By Darren Boon
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