SINGAPORE – With cars lining one side of Sallim Road leading to the Church of St. Stephen, one would have wondered what was going on in this quaint little parish in the east on Saturday afternoon, May 10. It was the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the foundation of the Canossian Sisters that drew over 500 people to the newly renovated church.

"The Church of St. Stephen is very significant to us because the beginning of the church was in our compound in Sallim Road," explained Sister Anne Tan, who has been the Provincial Superior for the Canossian Sisters since 2003.

Sister Anne added that the theme of the 200th anniversary celebration "Big Hearts" captures the Canossian spirituality and was used in a song specially composed by Stephanie Kwok, which was the closing hymn for the Eucharistic celebration.

Archbishop Nicholas Chia celebrated the Mass with 18 other priests from around the diocese. The Mass was attended by all the Canossian Sisters, together with lay people and religious whose lives have been influenced one way or another by the Canossian sisters.

Since they first arrived in Singapore in 1894, the Canossians have been very dedicated and always open to building God’s kingdom on earth, said Archbishop Chia in his homily.

"We pray that more young girls will be inspired by their lives and join the mission of the Canossians. We rejoice with the Canossians and be thankful for all they have done, and assure them of our prayers and support," Archbishop Chia added.

The Canossian Daughters of Charity is the largest religious congregation in Singapore, with 56 Canossian sisters serving the Archdiocese of Singapore, and two postulants training to be Sisters. The congregation is engaged in ministries varying from education, catechesis and theological reflections, pastoral care for the sick, elderly, and terminally ill, counselling, youth ministry, retreat and spiritual direction.

There are two kindergartens, two primary schools, one secondary school, and a Hearing Impaired Learning Centre run by the Canossian Sisters in Singapore. In addition, both the St. Joseph’s Home and Villa Francis Home for the Aged are run by the Canossian Sisters. -By Daniel Tay

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