Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong praised Catholics for their contribution to nation building through education, health care and social protection and for promoting harmony in the city- Multireligious state for two centuries.
In a message posted on Facebook, the Prime Minister said he was happy to join the Catholic community for mass at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, the oldest Catholic church in the country, for the closing of the 200th anniversary celebrations. Singapore church anniversary on December 31. 11.
Simultaneous masses were held in all 32 Catholic churches in Singapore at 6 p.m. and, for the first time in history, the simultaneous bells of all 32 churches rang out across the island for a minute.
“Did you hear the church bells ringing tonight?” You have probably attended the closing celebrations for the 200th anniversary of the Catholic Church here, ”Prime Minister Lee said in the post.
“I was happy to join the Catholic community for Mass at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. I also watched a video on how Catholicism first came to our shores and how the Catholic Church has contributed to our community for two centuries, through education, care health and social protection.
In our multi-religious society, Catholics thrive and coexist in harmony with other religions, he added.
Despite a downward trend in many countries where people are losing faith in God, the recent census shows that we have grown stronger over the past five years.
Archbishop William Goh of Singapore concelebrated Mass with Archbishop Marek Zalewski, the Apostolic Nuncio. Among the dignitaries present were the wife of the Prime Minister, Madame Ho Ching, the Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong and representatives of the embassies of France and Portugal in homage to the first European missionaries who brought the Catholic faith in Singapore.
In his homily, Archbishop Goh said the Church continues to thrive in Singapore as it experiences decline in many countries.
“We are called to give thanks for what the Lord is doing through our Church. Despite a downward trend in many countries where people are losing faith in God, the recent census shows that we have grown stronger over the past five years, ”said the prelate.
He noted that over the past centuries the Church has produced good leaders for society, government, business, and charitable organizations. “We trained them with strong ethical, moral and spiritual values to lead our community. “
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Although the government is secular, it is not hostile to religions but “respectful and encouraging of religions, maintaining neutrality towards all and considers us as partners in the development of the social, moral and spiritual values of our people”, said Archbishop Goh.
Singapore’s unique values of interfaith harmony, built over many generations, encourage religions to respect and support each other, he noted.
About 12,000 people attended various events and activities during the eight-day festival from Dec. 4 to 11 to mark the closing of the 200th anniversary, according to a press release from the Archdiocese of Singapore. About 6,000 people joined the simultaneous Masses in the churches.
The celebrations included tours, performances, art exhibits and activities including community engagement, lectures and spirituality programs, which were restricted and organized with precautionary measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Online broadcasts of the yearlong programs, known as the Catholic200SG Festival, garnered over one million views during the anniversary year.
The date of Father Laurent’s arrival in Singapore is historically known as the start of the Catholic Church in Singapore.
Catholic missionaries arrived in Singapore shortly after Sir Stamford Raffles made it a British colony in 1819.
Saint Laurent Marie Joseph Imbert (1796-1839), a French Catholic priest of the Society of Foreign Missions of Paris (MEP), landed in Singapore from France on December 11, 1821, en route for his missionary assignments in Malaysia and China.
Father Laurent was martyred in Korea in 1839 and canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1984. The date of Father Laurent’s arrival in Singapore is historically known as the beginning of the Catholic Church in Singapore.
Singapore is a multi-religious, multi-ethnic nation with an estimated population of 5.6 million. Most Chinese are Buddhists and most Malays are Muslims. Christians make up about 15 percent of the population.
The Archdiocese of Singapore, which covers the entire island, has approximately 360,000 Catholics.
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