This issue, CatholicNews gives special mention to our priests and Religious who celebrate their jubilees this year.

Friar Bonaventure Tung
Franciscan Friar Bonaventure dedicated himself to pastoral and formation ministry in Singapore throughout the 1980s and 1990s. In addition to serving at Bukit Batok, he ministered at the Church of St Francis of Assisi, the Church of Sacred Heart as well as with Hai Sing Pao.

After leaving Singapore, Friar Bonaventure served as a missionary in Morocco, and subsequently with the Chinese community in Australia, before returning to Taiwan, where he continues to be engaged with pastoral ministry.

Friar Bonaventure celebrated his diamond jubilee with a Mass and lunch reception at the Church of St Mary of the Angels on May 17.
Carmelite Sr Elizabeth

Sr Elizabeth will be celebrating her Diamond Jubilee on Dec 7. In her youth, she joined the group called Children of Mary under the spiritual direction of Fr Francis Chan (who later became the Bishop of Penang).

One day, Fr Chan took her and a few others to visit the Carmelite Monastery at Kampong Bahru. She liked the place very much and asked to join the community as a lay Sister. Although there was much to do tending the vegetable garden,  feeding the poultry and helping in the household chores, Sr Elizabeth had time for English lessons and was instructed in Carmelite spirituality.

After Vatican II, she made her solemn profession. Although she continued to have a great love for plants and animals, she was given new responsibilities.

The most outstanding years were those when she was in charge of the Host Office. She just knew how to mix flour with the right amount of cold water to make the whitest and crispiest hosts that the faithful in Singapore had tasted for so many years. When interviewed, she said, “Too cold cannot, not cold enough also cannot.”

Nowadays, she is happy when given some ginger or garlic to peel every morning and is ever ready to help other Sisters cook the string beans or pluck some vegetables. She is hard of hearing and has poor vision but you can find her in the Choir when the Divine Office is recited, during meditation and she is most fervent at daily Mass. 


Sr Thomasina Sewell, FMDM

In 1951, Gladys Sewell entered the Postulancy at Mount Alvernia Convent in Moulmein Road, thus starting her journey as a Franciscan Missionary of the Divine Motherhood (FMDM) Sister.

Now known as Sr Thomasina, she celebrated 60 years as an FMDM Sister on March 24.

Sr Thomasina took up nursing and midwifery training, as well as Advanced Nursing Administration in England and Ireland before returning to Mt Alvernia Hospital in 1961.

Her ministry has mainly been in nursing and midwifery, as well as in administration and leadership.  She worked in Mt Alvernia Hospital, Villa Francis, Our Lady’s Hospital in Ipoh and back again in England and Ireland.

Sr Thomasina was also the Novice Directress when they started their first local Novitiate in the 1980s.  After her time again in the Motherhouse in England, she returned to Singapore in 2001.

Presently, Sr Thomasina’s ministry is to help in the hospital as an FMDM Sister. 


 Sr Siena Pillai, FMDM

Theresa Pillai joined the Congregation of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood in 1952. She had her Religious Formation at the International Noviciate in United Kingdom and made her first vows on 1954. She was named Sr Catherine of Siena.

During her Religious life, Sr Siena underwent General Nursing Training in Ireland and Midwifery training in UK. Returning to Singapore she has served in several capacities, including nursing at the Trafalgar Home for people with Hansen’s Disease in our early history.

Later, she served in Mount Alvernia Hospital in the General and Maternity Wards until her retirement.

Sr Siena took on training in Clinical Pastoral Education in the Philippines and the Singapore Anti-Narcotic Association’s (SANA) basic training for Volunteer Aftercare Officers. She served on SANA and visited prisons for many years. She received the Silver Medal of Honour in 2004 and the Gold Medal of Honour for her dedication to this cause in 2005.

Sr Siena is now being cared for at the St Theresa’s Home for the elderly.


Fr James Yeo

Fr James Yeo marked his 25th year as a priest on May 1. A Mass celebrated by Fr Cary Chan and Fr Alphonsus Dominic, and concelebrated by more than 50 priests was held at the Church of the Holy Spirit that day. 

After his years of formation in the Major Seminary in Penang, Fr James was ordained a deacon in the  Church of Christ the King on 14th March 1989.

He was supposed to serve in that parish, but due to some developments in the Church of Risen Christ, he ministered there instead until 1994.

In that same year, he left for further studies in Rome. On his return in 1996, he began teaching in the Major Seminary in Singapore. At the same time, he also served at the Church of the Holy Spirit till 1998.

In 1998, he was appointed parish priest of the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  He served there until 2005, when he left for Australia to pursue his doctorate degree.

On his return, he was in the Church of St Anne from 2007 to 2012.

In 2013, he was appointed by Archbishop William Goh as rector of the new Catholic Theological Institute of Singapore.


Fr Hans-Joachim Fogl

Born in 1961, Fr Hans-Joachim Fogl grew up in South Germany. After he finished High School in 1981, he joined the Theological Pre-seminar to study Latin, Greek and Hebrew and in 1982, he started his studies in philosophy and theology at the Universities in Tübingen and Innsbruck.

His ordination as deacon was in December 1987. In 1989, he was ordained priest. Thereafter, Fr Hans also took up pedagogical and spiritual studies and became an educator for children and juveniles, as well as spiritual advisor.

In 2001, Fr Hans was appointed to work for the Secretary of the External of the German Bishops’ Conference. He was also Chaplain of the German-speaking Catholic Community in Rome until July 2004.

Since September 2004, Fr Hans has been chaplain of the German-speaking Catholic Community in Singapore. In addition to that, he has also been chaplain of the German-speaking Catholic Community in Kuala Lumpur since 2008 and coordinator for the Chaplaincies of Southeast Asia-Australia since 2009.

In Singapore, he takes care of the German-speaking Catholics from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and South Tyrol.  As part of his appointment as priest, he also teaches Religion at the German-European School in Singapore.


Archbishop Emeritus Nicholas Chia

Archbishop Emeritus Nicholas Chia was born in 1938, and ordained a priest on Jan 26, 1964. From 1964 to 1966, he served as assistant priest of Church of Sts Peter and Paul and from 1967 to 1969, he was assistant priest at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour.

He spent two years in Rome to obtain his licentiate in moral theology from the Gregorian University, and also did comparative studies on religions.

Archbishop Chia then became a lecturer in College General, Penang from 1973 to 1977.

In that same year, he took a two-month course on the marriage tribunal in the Gregorian University.

From 1978 to 1990, he was Singapore Pastoral Institute’s director. From 1980 to 2001, he was parish priest of Church of the Holy Cross. He was also an external lecturer at the St Francis Xavier Major Seminary from 1983 to 1996, the chaplain to Catholic students in National University of Singapore from 1990-2001, as well as chancellor and procurator of the Singapore archdiocese from 1995 to 2001.

On October 7, 2001, he was ordained Archbishop of Singapore.

Archbishop Chia established various bodies to oversee the critical interests of the Church. These include:

• The archdiocesan vocation promotion team, parish vocation teams and Serra Club to promote vocations to the priesthood.
• Caritas and CHARIS to co-ordinate the archdiocesan’s charitable works.
• Small Christian Communities (SCCs).
• The Archdiocesan Land and Properties Singapore (ALPS) to oversee the management of archdiocesan land and building assets.
• The Professional Standards Office (PSO) to maintain the professionalism of clergy and Church workers, including volunteers, especially those dealing with children.
• The Catholic Archdiocesan Youth Centre and Youth Ministry Office.
• The Human Resources Office to standardise human resource practices within the archdiocese.
Archbishop Chia is also known for his commitment to interreligious dialogue. In 2012, he was given the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) Award.

On May 18, 2013, Rome officially accepted Archbishop Chia’s resignation as head of Singapore archdiocese.
Fr Robert Balhetchet
Fr Robert Balhetchet was born in 1939. Ordained on Jan 26, 1964, he was later appointed assistant parish priest of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in 1965. In 1980, he then became parish priest.

In that year, he was also in the planning committee of St Francis Xavier Major Seminary.

Fr Balhetchet was the overall coordinator for the committee organising Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1986, and was also the chaplain of Carmelite Monastery. He was the editor of CatholicNews from 2002 to 2003.

Fr Balhetchet was also trained in dogmatic theology specialising in ecclesiology.  After earning his doctorate, he taught at College General, then the regional seminary for Malaysia and Singapore.

Fr Balhetchet was a prominent figure in the field of education in Singapore. It is said that the late Mr Goh Keng Swee, who was then Singapore’s Minister for Education, had great respect for him.
Fr Aloysius Doraisamy
 
Born in 1935, Fr Aloysius Doraisamy was ordained on Jan 26, 1964.

He has been a priest-in-residence in the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace, Church of St Francis Xavier, Church of St Teresa, and the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes.


Fr Peter Tan
 
Fr Peter Tan, who was born in 1953, was ordained a priest on Feb 25, 1989. He was previously an assistant priest at the Church of the Holy Cross, and his most recent appointment was as parish priest of the Church of St Michael, which he has been since February 2002.


Canossian Sr Jacqueline Chin

Having spent almost two decades serving the hearing impaired in Singapore, which brought her to various parts of the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and China, Sr Jacqueline left that all behind to embark on a journey of a lifetime – to the golden land of a million pagodas.

Since late 2010, she has officially taken on the Canossa mission in Myanmar, organising youth camps for the hundreds of children and young adults hungering to learn and discover new experiences.
She empowers them by teaching English and faith education through a slew of interactive games, inspiring workshops and input talks.

Very often, she has to travel for days under erratic weather conditions into the farthest reaches of her adopted country, which has just opened up to tourism in 2011.

Sr Jacq shrugs it off by saying, “The Lord is never outdone in generosity,” as she recounts her many heart-warming encounters with the local churches and fellow Catholics she meets along the way.
Carmelite Sr Angeline
Carmelite Sr Angeline will be celebrating her 25th year as a Religious on Oct 15. She entered the congregation in January 1987 and never regretted her decision, she said.

The spiritual life in Carmel has been a joy and delight to her soul, she added.  She believes that faith is the strength of their prayers and that every day is a new beginning for deeper faith.

In 2004, Sr Angeline felt another new call, which was their mission for Myanmar.  The Sisters now hope and pray that in His time, God may grace them with a Carmelite monastery in Myanmar for His holy people and for His greater glory.
Jesuit Fr Anthony Ponnudurai

Fr Anthony Ponnudurai was born in Singapore in 1932 and moved to India during his childhood years. It was there that he entered the Society of Jesus in 1951. He stayed in India for his formation to the priesthood and was ordained on March 19, 1964. He made his tertianship (the final phase of formation for Jesuits) in India and made his final profession as a Jesuit in 1970.

Fr Ponnudurai had worked in India, Mauritius and Indonesia until 1976, when he was appointed parish priest of the Church of the Risen Christ in Kuala Lumpur. Due to the difficulty for priests and Religious to renew visas in Malaysia in the 1980s, Fr Ponnudurai came to Singapore during that time and was duly invited to apply for Singapore citizenship as he was born in Singapore. That was when he also joined the local Jesuit community.

He was appointed novice master and team member of the then newly established Centre for Ignatian Spirituality and Counselling and helped with Masses both at the Jesuit parish Church of St Ignatius as well as at the Church of St Vincent de Paul. He was appointed Regional Superior of the Malaysia-Singapore Region of the Jesuits from 1992-1998.

Fr Ponnudurai continues to minister to the faithful at Church of St Ignatius and gives talks, seminars and retreats on Ignatian Spirituality at the Centre for Ignatian Spirituality and Counselling.
Fr Frans De Ridder, CICM
Fr Frans De Ridder was born in Belgium in 1940. He joined the Scheut Missions (CICM) in 1958, was ordained a priest in 1964, and left for Taiwan the following year.

After studying Taiwanese, while in the diocese of Taichung, he taught in the Catechist School and was spiritual director in the Minor Seminary. From 1973 to 1979, he was CICM Provincial Superior of Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan.

After 15 years in Taiwan, Fr Frans started a new chapter in his journey when he was assigned to Singapore in 1981 and served as assistant priest at the Church of the Holy Spirit and the Church of Christ the King.

Later, as rector of the CICM house at Nassim Road and Lady Hill, he was involved in a variety of groups and ministries: CHOICE, Engaged Encounter, Marriage Encounter (both English and Mandarin), the Archdiocesan Commission for Missionary Activity (ACMA) and the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO).

He was also spiritual director of many Religious and laypeople – an ongoing ministry up to the present. While he was superior of CICM Singapore, he had the joy of welcoming and accompanying two local CICM vocations: Fr Peter Koh and Fr Anthony Lim.

In 1994 he was assigned as assistant priest at the Church of St Francis of Assisi until 1997 when his responsibilities in the CICM China Apostolate became a fulltime task demanding frequent travel between China, Belgium and the Philippines.

He returned to Singapore in April 2005 and, from the CICM District House in Pandan Valley, he resumed his missionary activities, also helping out at the Church of the Holy Cross, particularly among the Mandarin-speaking.

In 2010, he was once again appointed Provincial Superior with residence in Taipei. After his term of office was completed, he opted to resume pastoral ministry in Taipei where, since beginning 2013, he has been parish priest at the Church of the Holy Rosary.

Fr Frans is expected to celebrate his golden jubilee with a Mass at the Church of St Francis of Assisi on Aug 12 at 7.30pm.


Note: Not all who are celebrating their jubilees are highlighted here as some have declined to be featured.
Compiled by Clara Lai.


 

Fr Robert Balhetchet was born in 1939. Ordained on Jan 26, 1964, he was later appointed assistant parish priest of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in 1965. In 1980, he then became parish
priest.
In that year, he was also in the planning committee of St Francis Xavier Major Seminary.
Fr Balhetchet was the overall coordinator for the committee organising Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1986, and was also the chaplain of Carmelite Monastery. He was the editor of CatholicNews from 2002 to 2003.
Fr Balhetchet was also trained in dogmatic theology specialising in ecclesiology.  After earning his doctorate, he taught at College General, then the regional seminary for Malaysia and Singapore.
Fr Balhetchet was a prominent figure in the field of education in Singapore. It is said that the late Mr Goh Keng Swee, who was then Singapore’s Minister for Education, had great respect for him. n

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