FATHER DESMOND REID, S.J. went to his eternal reward at 5.20am Feb 20, 2007, in Mt Alvernia Hospital, in the company of his Jesuit brothers and parishioners. He would have turned 86 in May this year. Father Reid had been in poor health for many years but his condition deteriorated over the last couple of months. He succumbed to lung failure.
Father Reid was born in a family of 10 in Dublin, Ireland on May 14, 1921. He was educated by the Christian Brothers in Dublin. Father Reid was a sportsman in school, with football and boxing (yes, boxing) being his two favourites.
He entered the Society of Jesus on Dec 7, 1940, was ordained on Jul 31, 1953 and celebrated his first Mass at St. Agnes' Convent, Crumlin, Ireland on Aug 1, 1953. Before he left Ireland, he was a lecturer in the College of Industrial Relations, Dublin, and edited a major Jesuit publication.
His interest in publication never waned even when he was in Singapore. Since 1975, he patiently and painstakingly produced the much-loved parish publication of St. Ignatius - "Sharing". Up to the time of his death, the upcoming issue after Easter was being planned.
Father Reid was, at various times, the Parish Priest of the Church of St. Ignatius, Assistant Jesuit Novice Master, and Spiritual Director of various Legion of Mary Praesidia.
He was also a member of the first Senate chaired by then Archbishop Gregory Yong. Father Reid was instrumental in starting catechism classes for expatriate children, the only one in the archdiocese then. As prolific writer and avid reader, Father Reid began the very first parish bookstore-cum-religious stall.
Perhaps Father Reid will be best remembered for his untiring efforts as coordinator for the Jesuit Refugee Services at the height of the exodus of the boat people from Vietnam after the war. Father Reid would not only appeal for material donations for the refugees in the Hawkins Road Camp, he would personally go down to mingle with them, teaching them English.
Up to almost the day he died, in his own inimitable way, Father Reid was still "active" in the parish of St Ignatius. He wasn't "active" in the ordinary sense of the word; rather he was very much aware of happenings in the parish and Jesuit community, and maintained an interest in parishioners young and old.
A remarkably humble person, Father Reid had a deep compassion and love for people. He always had time for others, even when he was clearly unwell. He had a dry sense of humour which was always disarming and which delighted those who knew him. Not a food aficionado, Father Reid liked his food warm and loved eggs, especially egg sandwiches. Father Reid's life touched and turned around so many lives. This was so evident at the funeral Mass on Feb 22. He will be missed by many.
Father Desmond Reid, pray for us. Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace.
The Jesuit community thank all for their condolences and prayers.
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Quotable quotes from Father Desmond Reid
"I first came to Singapore on a charter flight for missionaries. At Karachi, we stopped to refuel and the temperature there was over 100°F. I remember thinking, "If Singapore is like this, I'll be dead in a week". It was a relief to emerge from the arrival hall into a mere 80°F."
"Heat suits me: I'm a hothouseplant. The weather warmth was matched and surpassed by the warmth and friendliness of the parishioners in Singapore. Throughout my 36 years, this has never waned."
"I thank my God each time I think of you and when I pray for you, I pray with joy." Father Reid made these words of St. Paul his own.