SINGAPORE – Church of St. Francis Xavier is commemorating its 50th anniversary this year with a series of events for parishioners.

A youth concert will be held in July, and a food and fun fair in September; a triduum and parish dinner, and a talent-quest are planned. A coffee-table book is already in the works.

Meanwhile, the parish has kicked off the special-year celebrations with a Family Games Day at St. Gabriel’s Primary School. The May 1 activities, which included captain’s ball, futsal, and mini-rounders attracted more than 100 parishioners, from adults to young children.

Roderick Theseira, one of the organisers, said that the games aimed to bring the parish community together outside church and provide the opportunity for parishioners to widen their social circle.

Among those who participated were three generations of Vincent Wee’s family. His brother and children were there to play the games while his parents were there to lend their “moral support”.

“It’s good. It builds bonding,” Mr Wee said. He hopes to see more of such events.

Parish priest Father John Bosco Pereira said the games have achieved the objective of fostering fellowship. Old ties have been rekindled (particularly among the older parishioners) and new ties established (particularly among the young).

A bit of history
In 1957, then Archbishop Michael Olcomendy gave the green light to build the Church St. Francis Xavier, to cater to the growing Catholic community in Serangoon Gardens Estate and its surrounding areas.

Father Phillippe Meissonier and a committee of 24 members built the church for a congregation of 1,000, a presbytery for two priests, servant’s quarters and a parish hall. The project was completed within 18 months, in time for the St. Francis Xavier feast day celebrations in December 1958.

The church was blessed on Jan 11, 1959. Father Rene Challet was appointed the parish priest and Father Henry Saussard assistant priest.

The main church was later renovated under Father John Sim. The parish hall and presbytery were rebuilt to include a columbarium and chapel. The parish centre and carpark were completed in 2004.

Father John Bosco said that he and assistant priest Father Brian D’Souza are fortunate to “be part of the parish history” at this significant milestone.

Concerning the future, Father John Bosco said he plans “to continue to nourish the community, point the way in developing closer bonds and for more participation”.

The parish has a population of 4,500, according to the Archdiocese of Singapore 2009 Catholic Directory.

By Darren Boon

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