ARCHBISHOP MICHAEL OLCOMENDY was the first Archbishop of Singapore.

He was born in the Basque province of France on Aug 29, 1901, ordained for the MEP on May 29, 1926, and left France on Sep 12 for the Diocese of Malacca, where he learnt English and Tamil.

From 1937, he was the Vicar General for Malacca Bishop Adrien Pierre Devals who died in 1945. He was appointed Bishop of Malacca on Jun 1, 1947. In 1953, he was appointed Archbishop of Malacca in 1955 Archbishop of Malacca-Singapore, and in 1973 Archbishop of Singapore. He resigned in 1976, and died on Jul 4, 1977.

Conscious of the role of the Catholic Church in contributing to social improvement and to the nation-building process, Archbishop Olcomendy invited a number of community-oriented religious orders to extend their mission to Singapore.

These included the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary, the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood, the Marist Brothers, the Franciscan Friars, and the Fathers of the Sacred Heart. Those that were already in Singapore received his personal support.

In the early 1950s, he encouraged the growth of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and had the guilds of Catholic Teachers, Nurses, and Doctors instituted, and encouraged formation of the the Legion of Mary, Catholic Young Men’s Association, the Young Christian Students’ Movement, and the Young Christian Workers’ Movement.

Upon his death, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew wrote:

"He had, for many years, been a staunch pillar supporting inter-religious peace and harmony in Singapore…

He was a religious leader of the Catholic community whose understanding of the problems of our multi-racial and multi-religious community helped to keep the social climate relaxed and tolerant."


 

Archbishop Gregory Yong

 

BORN IN TAIPING on May 20, 1925, he was educated at St. George’s Institution and St. Michael’s Institution in Ipoh.

He was ordained in 1951. In 1953, he left for studies in Rome where he became the first local priest to be conferred a Doctorate in Canon Law. Back in Singapore in 1956, he was appointed Assistant Parish Priest at Church of the Sacred Heart. The following year, he joined the teaching staff at the Minor Seminary.

After a short stint as Assistant Parish Priest at Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, he became the first local priest to teach in the Major Seminary.

He was consecrated Bishop of Penang on Jul 1, 1968 and installed as Archbishop of Singapore on Apr 2, 1977 at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. He sent his resignation letter to Pope John Paul II on May 20, 2000, and it was accepted on Oct 14 that year.

He passed away on Jun 28 this year.

 

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