The Committee reported that in 1947 an average of 18 persons shared a "building" in the Municipal area. All these buildings are not dwelling houses; some are godowns, stores, workshops and factories.
But overcrowding is at its worst in the town area of Singapore. According to the 1947 census Singapore had a population of 940,756. Of these 679,953 (about 73o/o) live within the Municipal limits. About one third of the population is concentrated on 1,000 acres of land in the heart of the city. In places the density is 1,000 per acre. Singapore has an area of 200 square miles.
These appalling figures point out the acute housing shortage in Singapore. A number of new houses have been erected since, but the rate of building can hardly keep pace with the population increase.
By the law of nature, which is also the law of God, woman has one great purpose to serve on earth, that of being a good wife and mother. She may fulfil that purpose in the natural order of things by marriage, or, so to speak, in the supernatural order by devoting herself to God and satisfying her maternal instinct by a vicarious motherhood in the service, in some religious order, of the motherless, the helpless, the sick, and of all those who need her prayers or her care. The number of girls who have a religious vocation is comparatively small. But what follows applies to many of them too. In any order which undertakes such works of mercy as teaching, nursing, care of the blind or handicapped, or the rearing of orphans and homeless children, it is becoming more and more necessary for the sisters to have a suitable training; otherwise the prestige of our Catholic work may suffer by comparison with work of a similar kind carried out by Government or other agencies.
These nuns who are trained in Child Welfare, conduct several orphanages and nurseries and receive babies into their care almost daily. Many of these unwanted babies die; indeed when they are left at the Convent it is often because they are ill or weakly. At the age of five, the surviving- babies go to the Junior Orphanage where they remain until they are thirteen. They go to school, learning English, Chinese or Tamil, according to their race. At thirteen they join the bigger girls. A few continue their studies but the greater number help with the housework and learn sewing, laundry work, child welfare, etc. The majority of the orphans leave the Home to p:et married; a few enter the novitiate of the Society.
He who humbles himself on earth shall be exalted in heaven. Today we tell you about the religious orders of men, men who have given up home and all private property to live a life of prayer and obedience to man for the love of God.
First the REDEMPTORIST FATHERS AND BROTHERS: All those not strangers to Malaya must know the blessing brought to a parish by the preaching of a Triduum or Mission. That blessing does not necessarily come from the eloquence of the preacher. It comes rather from the fact that the Redemptorist Father has a way with him, an air about him, and this air, this way comes from the system of life whereby, in between the activity of their preaching, the Fathers return to their monastery for rest and retreat. But they return not to any empty house, but to the presence of God; for all the time that they are away two brothers have been busy, not merely in cooking and cleaning and doing the house work, but also in that same kind of prayer and contemplation that we mentioned last week in connection with the Carmelites. I trust those good Brothers will forgive this publicity; you must pray in gratitude for them, and also pray that there may be more vocations of this kind.
Last time we spoke about the Bishop and Clergy. X ow let us tell you about their helpers.
These helpers are of three kinds: the religious, those men and women who have bound themselves to God, as though with a ligature. by a vow; and ordinary layfolk, working people, including the married, who devote their spare time to organized Catholic Action.
In the New Testament days of the Church, these helpers were called Deacons and Deaconesses. We no longer use the words in this sense. The diaconate (to be a deacon) is a P.art of the Sacrament of Holy Order, whtle deaconesses no longer exist in name.
But they do in fact, though we call them Nuns, or Sisters, or even Madams. It is of them that we shall speak first, Lhen, next time, of the Brothers, and after that, of Catholic Action.