SINGAPORE – The Sacred Hearts Fathers celebrated 50 years of their presence in Singapore on Friday May 30, the feast of the Sacred Heart, at Blessed Sacrament Church (BSC), which has been its chief mission field. A May 27-29 Triduum preceded the May 30 Mass (celebrated by Msgr Eugene Vaz and 14 priests including 10 Sacred Hearts Fathers) and dinner.

Each of the Sacred Hearts Fathers present renewed their commitment to the priesthood. Among them were visiting Bishop Brendan Comiskey from Ireland; the local Provincial, Indonesian Father Antun Wardoyo; and 84-year-old Father Odo Tiggeloven from Holland.

Father Tiggeloven is one of the three Sacred Hearts Fathers who arrived in Singapore 1958. He is still well-remembered by some 30 ex-altar boys of the parish, now almost in their 60s. They were pleased to meet their childhood mentor once more.

A dinner was held at Harbour City restaurant at PSA Building after Mass and attended by about 500 parishioners.

The evening’s activities included cutting of the cake led by Bishop Comiskey, cultural performances by BSC parishioners, an audience quiz on the orders’s history and a soulful rendition of "Bengawan Solo" by the Indonesian Sacred Hearts Fathers quartet, which was a pleasant surprise to the diners. Father Anthony Hutjes sang a Dutch folk song, accompanied with dance steps.

"People here really love, are close to and treasure their priests," observed Bishop Comiskey. "It is typical of our charism."

A parishioner of 40 years standing commented, "This charism is that of an openness of heart welcoming to all, like the heart of Jesus and his mother. Just like Blessed Sacrament Church, whose gates are never locked till 11.30pm, known as the parish that never sleeps."

Father Albert Renckens, coordinator of the congregation in Singapore, writes in the souvenir booklet prepared for the occasion that the purpose of the celebrations is "to make ourselves and others aware of what we have been and have done for Singapore all these years. Even we ourselves have to learn our own history as none of us has been here for 50 years."

"I can honestly say that we have not only given our time and talents, but that we have also been confirmed in our vocation by the church of Singapore. In a way we have received more than we have given." n

(Written with information from Colleen Kim Thomas.)

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