(Singapore) Monday, 14 February 2022 : 125th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today the Church in Singapore celebrates the anniversary of the Dedication and Consecration of the Mother Church of our Archdiocese, namely that of Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, the seat of the Archbishop of Singapore and the epicentre and heart of our Christian community here in this Lion City. Today marks the 125th Anniversary since the moment when this great House of God was dedicated and consecrated for the purpose of divine worship, in the Year of Our Lord 1897, although the Cathedral itself had been around and functioning for five decades before that.

The Church in Singapore had its humble beginnings with the coming of the now saint, St. Laurent Imbert, who was then a French missionary on his way to other mission lands. Just over two hundred years ago, St. Laurent Imbert landed in Singapore on the start of its days as a British colony and trade entrepôt. He found Singapore as a place with very few Catholics who lived in a wretched condition, without any shepherds, guides and priests to guide them. He celebrated Mass here for the first time on this island and then, in the coming years many more missionaries came to this island of Singapore, beginning the foundation of the Church in Singapore.

With the labour and hardships of the early missionaries, the Christian community in Singapore began to be established, and one of the first churches to be established was the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd itself, as no more than just a small little hut and chapel, about a hundred and ninety years ago. That small community began to grow and before long, the need for a proper and permanent church came to pass, and it came to the hands of another French missionary and priest, Fr. Jean-Marie Beurel who spearheaded the efforts to establish the first Catholic church, that was eventually built and completed in the Year of Our Lord 1846.

The church was named after the Good Shepherd, inspired by the faith and the martyrdom of the earlier mentioned St. Laurent Imbert, who as the Vicar Apostolic to Korea was martyred a few years previously, giving up himself and his life for the sake of his flock, remembering the Lord’s own words, that ‘The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep’. Thus, the new church was named in honour of the Good Shepherd and St. Laurent Imbert’s courage and faith. However, for many years after it has been completed, the then Church of the Good Shepherd was not yet consecrated as it took many years for it to be financially viable and the costs of its construction be paid off in full.

This House of God was finally consecrated to God and dedicated a hundred and twenty-five years ago, and today we remember the memory of that great occasion and we give thanks to God for His great providence both for the Church in Singapore and for all the faithful who have since multiplied since the time when the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Singapore was established and dedicated to God. And more importantly, we remind ourselves as well that the Church is not just that of the physical building and this great House of God, but also the people of God, the flock of the Good Shepherd, all those who have believed in Him and entrusted themselves in Him.

It is important for us to recognise that all of us are the Living Church of God, the union of all the parts of the Body of Christ that the Church is all about. With Christ at our Head, all of us are the living and breathing members of the Church, the building blocks and the parts of the great works of the Church in doing God’s will and in responding to His call. All of us are part of this Church, and as God’s dwelling place, as He has came upon us and dwelled in our midst and within us, as we partake in His own Most Precious Body and Blood, the Holy Eucharist. And that is why all of us as Christians, all of us in Singapore are called to be partakers in God’s mission, what He has entrusted to us.

In our community today, all of us as Catholics living in Singapore are called to be good and faithful witnesses of God’s truth and love, to be genuine examples and inspiration of what Christians are supposed to be like. And yet, we often see around us plenty of indifference and lukewarmness of faith, the lack of joy and desire to proclaim the Gospel with sincerity and dedication. What I mean is that many of us profess to be Christians and we call ourselves as such, and yet we cause harm to others by our actions, our gossips and our selfish attitudes. And many of us also lack awareness and the understanding of the need of the poor and the needy in our midst, not just for physical needs but also for those who long for acceptance and love.

That is why today as we celebrate this great Solemnity of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, the Mother Church of the Church in Singapore, all of us are reminded to do our part and glorify God by our lives. All of us should do whatever we can, in our own respective capacities and opportunities in life, to be role models and inspiration to each other, so that we may be the faithful and courageous bearers of God’s light, truth and love, just as St. Laurent Imbert, the many other early Christian missionaries and pioneers of the Church here in Singapore. We have to follow in their footsteps and do whatever we can to contribute to the good works of the Church.

May the Lord continue to guide us and show us the path forward in life. May He empower each and every one of us to live wholeheartedly in faith, so that we may dedicate ourselves more and more, in His service. May all of us, the Church of God, especially here in Singapore, continue to do our best to live our lives as genuine and faithful Christians at all times. May God be with us all and may He remain with us, now and always, forevermore. Amen.

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