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The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd is the oldest Catholic church in Singapore.

The Catholic Church in Singapore is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome.

About 5.7% of Singapore's populace, or about 300,000 people, are Catholics. Catholicism is practiced mainly by people of Chinese (including Peranakan) descent, along with a Eurasian (including Jenti Kristang), Filipino, Indian, Indonesian, and white European minority.



Catholicism in Singapore has its roots from the Portuguese established Diocese of Malacca soon after Affonso de Albuquerque's conquest of Malacca in 1511. It is believed that the first Catholic priest set foot in British Singapore in 1821 to attend to the needs of the growing community consisting largely of Europeans and some Chinese; however, it is probable that there had been Portuguese missionaries operating out of Malacca in Singapore during the Portuguese period, 1511–1641, prior to the British conquest.

Acknowledged as the founder of the Catholic Church here, Father Jean-Marie Beurel was notable for initiating the building of several Catholic churches, such as the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd and for establishing the first Missionary schools in Singapore. Of the initial Missionary schools, Saint Joseph's Institution, founded in 1852, was in the care of the Lasallian Brothers while the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, founded in 1854, was in the care of the Sisters of the Infant Jesus.[1] These institutions catered to students of all faiths and backgrounds and many of the non-Catholics subsequently became converts.

Historically, Catholic communities were divided along racial lines - centred along the entire length of Queen St in town:

  • The vast majority of Catholics in the early years of Singapore would comprise the Eurasians, who were chiefly located in the Waterloo St and Serangoon Road areas and were members of St Joseph's Church (143 Victoria St, rear of Queen St), the former Portuguese Mission church, along with two schools, St Anthony's Boys School and St Anthony's Convent.
  • The Europeans congregated at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. (1A Queen St)
  • Tamil Catholics, added the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes on Ophir Road, at the other end of Queen St.
  • Chinese Catholics in the city area were found at Sts Peter and Paul (Queen St), and the Sacred Heart Church (Tank Road). Conversion to Catholicism among the Chinese community in the 19th century was met with disdain among Chinese immigrant societies in Singapore. Many of these Chinese Catholic converts, a large number of whom were wealthy plantation owners, were frequently subjected to harassment from Chinese Secret Societies[citation needed]. These were mainly located in the Upper Serangoon and Hougang areas where the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary is located in what was traditionally a Teochew speaking heartland.

During World War II, in an attempt to manage the growing needs of the local people in Singapore, many Catholics of Eurasian and Chinese ethnicity were deported to Bahau, also aptly called "Fuji Village" at that time, to be self-sufficient in their own food supply.

In 2005, Singapore held an exhibition, dubbed Journey of Faith, on artefacts from Vatican City in the Asian Civilisations Museum at Empress Building, Catholic-oriented artifacts, focusing on art and history, were put on display from June to October 2005.

The Catholic Church in Singapore was under dual jurisdiction for most of its history, one tracing authority from the Vicariate Apostolate of Siam down to the present Archdiocese of Singapore and the other with the authority from the Portuguese Mission first from the Archdiocese of Goa and then the Diocese of Macau. This was a legacy of the padroado pronouncement in the 16th century. Dual jurisdiction was ended in 1981, when the Portuguese Mission handed over St Joseph's Church to the Archdiocese of Singapore and, thus, the whole island of Singapore was brought under the Archdiocese of Singapore.

List of Catholic churches in SingaporeEdit

List of foreign Catholic communities in SingaporeEdit

  • Filipino Catholic Community of Singapore
  • Indonesian Catholic Community in Singapore (KKIS - Keluarga Katolik Indonesia di Singapura)[2]
  • Indonesian Charismatic Catholic Holy Spirit Prayer Group (KKIHS - Karismatik Katolik Indonesia Holy Spirit)[3]
  • French-speaking Catholic Community of Singapore
  • German-speaking Catholics
  • Hong Kong Catholics
  • Japanese Catholic Group
  • Korean Catholics


The Catholic Church operates kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools and a junior college, Catholic Junior College. Some schools are operated by the archdiocese and others are under the trusteeship of various religious orders such as the Lasallian Brothers and the Sisters of the Infant Jesus.

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • One hundred years' history of the Chinese in Singapore, by Song Ong Siang ISBN 0-19-582603-5
  • Journey of Faith: Art and History from the Vatican Collections by Asian Civilisations Museum ISBN 981-05-3505-8
  • Syonan: My story the Japanese occupation of Singapore ISBN 981-204-360-8


  1. ^ "The Book and The Cathedral: The Catholic News". Archived from the original on 2016-01-14. Retrieved 2013-03-14.
  2. ^ "Indonesian Catholic Community (Keluarga Katolik Indonesia di Singapura)". Archived from the original on 2018-03-13. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  3. ^ "Karismatik Katolik Indonesia Holy Spirit". Archived from the original on 2018-03-12. Retrieved 2018-03-12.

External linksEdit