The Good Shepherd Sisters remember their pioneers and look forward to the next phase of their journey
Rejoicing over their 75 years here, the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS) of Singapore-Malaysia Province celebrated with a Mass in their spanking new hall.
Over 200 family members, friends, collaborators, benefactors, current and former students of Marymount Convent School joined the Sisters for the Mass and dinner on Dec 12 at Good Shepherd Place, Toa Payoh Lorong 8.
Fr Cyril Lee, who delivered the homily at the concelebrated Mass, noted that the four Irish Sisters who sailed to Singapore from Sri Lanka in 1939 endured much hardship. This included having their first convent in Punggol destroyed and being exiled in Bahau, Malaysia during World War II.
Today, he added, “the Sisters’ mission has diversified but the focus remains” in that they serve the needy and disadvantaged women and children.
Dominican Fr Antonio Gonzalez, CICM Fr Kamelus Kamus, and Frs John Sim and Peter Paul concelebrated the Mass with Fr Lee.
In her thank-you speech after the Mass, Sr Joan Lopez, the Provincial Superior, expressed gratitude and “indebtedness to the pioneers”. She also thanked the families of the Sisters for having made many sacrifices and sharing their child or sister with the congregation.
Two of the earliest local members of the congregation, Sr Gerard Fernandez and Sr Therese Thong, spoke of their joy at being present for the celebration.
Sr Gerard, 76, told Catholic News, “I feel privileged to be alive to celebrate our 75th year. I knew the pioneers… I saw the building of Marymount Convent... Now with our new buildings, it’s a joy to be here. I hope our Sisters will be able to carry on our mission in a big way. I also believe that vocations will come. We now have three aspirants and that’s wonderful!”
Sr Therese, 77, has been on mission in Hong Kong and Taiwan for over 30 years. She decided to take up Taiwanese citizenship years ago in order to continue the mission of the Sisters there. “This is the first time I came back for the [anniversary] celebration… I’m very happy to see we have aspirants and collaborators,” she said.
Joining the Sisters from the Province were fellow congregation members from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Taiwan. Also present were representatives from the Brothers of Mercy, Canossian Daughters of Charity, Cenacle Sisters, Infant Jesus Sisters, Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood and Missionaries of Charity Sisters.
The RGS Sisters began their anniversary celebration 75 days earlier, in September, by remembering in prayer their pioneers, local Church leaders, benefactors and Sisters who have passed on.
Their first convent, a bungalow, was donated by Fr Lee’s grandfather, the late Paul Lee.
Meanwhile, Sr Cecilia Liew, who heads the community in Good Shepherd Place, shared that its official inauguration will take place in April next year. The compound has a chapel, the Marymount headquarters, a convent, a hall with a seating capacity of 200, a kindergarten, a children’s home and a retreat centre.
She added that journeying forward, the Sisters hope for greater and more creative involvement in the work against human trafficking, to be more actively engaged in their Toa Payoh neighbourhood, and be involved internationally in the movement for peace and non-violence, respect for human life and the environment. She also noted that without volunteers and collaborators, the congregation would not have enjoyed 75 years in Singapore.
By Mel Diamse-Lee