The present Maris Stella Convent at Holland Road.The present Maris Stella Convent at Holland Road.

100-year-old building plagued by termites and leaky roofs

The old and dilapidated Maris Stella Convent, which houses the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary (FMM) Sisters in Holland Road, will be demolished and a new one built in its place.

“The convent we live in is over a century old and has severe termite infestation which runs deep into the soil,” FMM Sr Marjorie Almodiel told CatholicNews.

Sr Marjorie Almodiel, chairperson of fund raising committee

“Our roofs leak badly and there is extensive damage to the roof beams and infrastructure. It is no longer safe to live there,” she said.

The old convent will be torn down and rebuilt at the current site at an estimated cost of $4.5 million. Fundraising efforts are now underway and the nuns hope to move into the new building by next Easter.

“The new convent has to be elderly-friendly and low-maintenance” as the average age of the 20 nuns who live here is 70, said Sr Marjorie, chairperson of the fundraising committee.

The new two-storey building will come equipped with a lift, ramped-up flooring with graduated access for those with walking difficulties, and an infirmary that can accommodate six nuns.

The new convent will also require fire-proofing in accordance with housing regulatory standards.

According to FMM Sr Sabina Fernandez, the nuns bought the building from English expatriates around October 1953.

When the Sisters first arrived in Singapore in May 1953, they stayed with the Infant Jesus Sisters temporarily, she added.

The late Bishop Michael Olcomendy and a Fr Duquet helped them obtain their current Holland Road premises.

There are a total of 30 FMM Sisters in Singapore at present.

In their 59 years in Singapore, the nuns set up Maris Stella Kindergarten, Hai Sing Catholic School, Poverello Teen Centre for young people to develop their skills, Apex Day Rehabilitation Centre for the Elderly, the Filodep programme for Filipino domestic workers, and the Madonna soup kitchen that provides food to construction workers.

Apart from the Holland Road convent, the area is also home to the FMM House of Prayer and Formation; the Atelier workroom, which makes priests’ vestments throughout Singapore; Maris Stella Kindergarten and Filodep.

Fundraising efforts include a food and fun fair at the FMM premises at 49D Holland Road on April 28, and a gala dinner at the Shangri-la Hotel on Aug 2. For more information, contact Sr Marjorie (6273 4510) or Janice (9060 0789).

By Martin See
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