(Special Post) Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, Mother Church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, also the 120th Anniversary of its Consecration (14 February 1897) – History of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd

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On 14 February 2017, the Church in Singapore is going to celebrate a great occasion of the Dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, which is the principal and mother of all the parishes and churches in Singapore. As the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Singapore, it is the place where the Cathedra or the seat of the Archbishop of Singapore is located at.

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The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd was established as one of the first church buildings in Singapore, in the earliest days of its history as a British colony after it was discovered by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles in the year 1819. The Cathedral had its origins in a simple and small chapel built from wooden and attap structure constructed between the year 1832 and 1833.
However, the rapid growth of the Church in Singapore, growing number of the faithful and pressing need for a more appropriate place for divine worship resulted in the efforts to establish a permanent place of worship for the faithful in Singapore. Upon generous donations from various individuals including that of the Queen of France and the Archbishop of Manila, the permanent church building that would become the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd became a reality.

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The foundation stone was placed in the site of the future Cathedral in the year 1843 and the completed church was opened and blessed on 18 June 1847, on the Feast of Corpus Christi by Father Jean-Marie Beurel, one of the pioneer priests and evangelisers in Singapore.

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(Picture: Fr. Jean-Marie Beurel)

The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd was named as such upon the inspiration from the holy martyr St. Laurent Imbert, one of the first Catholic priests to visit Singapore, who went on to be the first Vicar Apostolic to Korea, and was martyred for his faith there during the violent persecution against the Church and the faithful. It was told that he gave himself up to the authorities in order to safeguard the other faithful under his care, saying that “in times of great need, the Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” in the imitation of the Lord, our Good Shepherd.

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(Picture: St. Laurent Imbert)
As the Diocese of Malacca (established in 1558 in Malacca, now in Malaysia) was reestablished in the year 1888 after it has been temporarily suppressed in 1839 (and later revived as the Vicariate Apostolic of Western Siam in 1841), the church that was to become the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd was elevated to the status of a cathedral, and Bishop Edouard Gasnier became its first bishop. He was interred in the Cathedral’s crossing (between nave and transepts) upon his death in 1896.
The Cathedral was dedicated by Bishop Gasnier’s successor, Bishop Rene-Michel-Marie Fee, who dedicated and consecrated the Cathedral to our Lord Jesus the Good Shepherd, on 14 February of the year 1897, 120 years ago to the current date. Ever since, the Cathedral had become the hub for the growth of the Church and the Christian faith both in Singapore and throughout the region for the next 120 years.
Ever since, the Cathedral had weathered through good and difficult times, including the turbulent years of the Japanese Occupation of Singapore, when it was functioning as an emergency hospital, but it weathered through them. Nevertheless, time and the rapid construction around it and underneath the ground due to the building of the Mass Rapid Transit train line caused the foundation of the Cathedral to be affected, and serious cracks started to appear on the structure.
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Therefore, serious efforts for a major renovation was carried out, and after many years of preparation, the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd finally was closed on 28 October 2013, for a thorough and extensive renovation and modification. Throughout this major project, various discoveries were made on the historic nature of this Cathedral, including the discovery of the original foundation stone placed in site in the year 1843. The original layout and architecture of the Cathedral were also restored.

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Finally the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd was reopened on 20 November 2016, on the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King, by His Excellency Archbishop William Goh of Singapore during the Opening Mass, where he solemnly reopened the Cathedral for the purpose of divine worship.

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And now, on the 14th day of February of the Year of our Lord 2017, the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd is going to be dedicated to the Lord before all the faithful people of God.

Pray for the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, pray for the Church of God in Singapore!

Thursday, 27 October 2016 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are reminded today that the journey of our life is not an easy one if we decide to follow the Lord and devote ourselves to His ways. There are certainly going to be challenges and difficulties on the way forward, as there are those who are opposed to the ways of the Lord and His faithful ones, prowling about seeking our downfall and destruction.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, there is always and there will always be that constant struggle between us and those who follow the ways of the world, those who walk with the devil and his allies, all those who gave in to the temptations of their greed and desires, and fell to the pressure of their human pride, arrogance and hubris, resulting in them opening themselves up to all sorts of things that brought upon them corruption and sin.

That was why it was so easy for the people of Israel to fall into sin, as soon as they left the land of Egypt, as they fell into the temptations of Satan, trying to pull them away from the Lord’s salvation. They were tempted in the body and were found wanting, as they grumbled and complained against God Who have brought them to freedom by alleging that He had brought them out of the rich food and feast they had enjoyed in Egypt even though they were enslaved there.

They were not satisfied despite all that God had given them, despite Him having led them to the land promised to them and to their ancestors. They rebelled against Him, followed the ways of the pagans around them, casting their God aside for mere pagan idols and Baal, the false gods of their neighbours. And in doing so they have brought themselves to their downfall.

They allowed Satan to dwell in their hearts and corrupt them with his lies and false promises, and thus, they have opened the floodgates that brought them nearer and nearer to eternal damnation and hell. And yet, because of the tempting nature of earthly and worldly pleasures, all the human greed and predisposition to be tempted by these, they tend to refuse to let these go, even at the price of the salvation of their souls. And many more still were not aware of this fact.

Therefore, today, while it is indeed increasingly becoming more and more difficult for us to remain as faithful and devoted Christians, it is imperative for us all to spend time thinking about this matter and reflect on what we can do as the people of God in trying our best to follow Him, to be true to His ways, resisting the temptations of this world and the lures of the devil, and at the same time, showing our care and concern for our brethren who are in need of our help.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, let us all think of what we can do to help each other, both in persevering through the difficulties and challenges together, so that none of us may give up and let go of the promise of the salvation of God in exchange for the temporary goodness, respite and pleasure in this world, and also even to bring all those who hate us, all who have persecuted us, to see the light of God, be converted and be forgiven of their sins and faults.

This is the aim that all of us Christians should have, that we become real and genuine brethren to each other, showing care, love, concern and compassion to one another, and desiring to save all those who are now still living in the darkness and in ignorance of the ways of the Lord, so that all of us may together walk towards the salvation in the Lord, and together receive the sure promise of eternal life and glory with Him. May God bless our endeavours and help us. Amen.

Thursday, 27 October 2016 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Luke 13 : 31-35

At that time, some Pharisees came to Jesus and gave Him this warning, “Leave this place and go on Your way, for Herod wants to kill You.”

Jesus said to them, “Go and give that fox My answer : ‘I drive out demons, and I heal today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish My course!’ Nevertheless, I must go on My way today, and tomorrow, and for a little longer; for it would not be fitting for a Prophet to be killed outside Jerusalem.”

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you slay the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often have I tried to bring together your children, as a bird gathers her young under her wings, but you refused! From now on, you will be left with your Temple, and you will no longer see Me, until the time when you will say, ‘Blessed is He Who comes in the Name of the Lord.'”

Thursday, 27 October 2016 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Psalm 143 : 1, 2, 9-10

Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, Who trains my hands for war and my fingers for battle.

My loving God, my Fortress; my Protector and Deliverer, my Shield where I take refuge, Who conquers nations and subjects them to my rule.

I will sing a new song to You, o God, I will make music on the ten-stringed harp, for You Who give victory to kings and deliver David, Your servant.

Thursday, 27 October 2016 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Ephesians 6 : 10-20

Finally, be strong in the Lord with His energy and strength. Put on the whole armour of God to be able to resist the cunning of the devil. Our battle is not against human forces but against the rulers and authorities and their dark powers that govern this world. We are struggling against the spirits and supernatural forces of evil.

Therefore put on the whole armour of God, that in the evil day, you may resist and stand your ground, making use of all your weapons. Take truth as your belt, justice as your breastplate, and zeal as your shoes to propagate the Gospel of peace. Always hold in your hand the shield of faith to repel the flaming arrows of the devil. Finally, use the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, that is, the word of God.

Pray at all times as the Spirit inspires you. Keep watch, together with sustained prayer and supplication for all the holy ones. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, I may be given words to proclaim bravely the mystery of the Gospel. Even when in chains I am an ambassador of God; may He give me the strength to speak as I should.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we are reminded that it is not easy for us to attain salvation in God, and thus we should not take for granted the fact that God has offered us His forgiveness and pardon for our sins, and something has to be done for us in order to be worthy of that prize and treasure which await us at the end of the way.

The Lord made it clear by His story of how many of those who knew Him, and even those who were with Him and walked with Him by His side would be rejected, because these had not been truly faithful to Him. They claimed to know Him and to have met and interacted with Him, and yet He rejected them because He did not know them, and thus they are deprived of their eternal life and inheritance from God.

And why is this so, brothers and sisters in Christ? That is because it is possible for us to claim to be faithful to God, and yet in our hearts, we do not have the Lord enthroned in them. Many of us are easily tempted by the persuasions and temptations of goodness and pleasure, all the things with which the devil is trying to pull us away from our path to salvation.

Many of us pursued our own ego and our own greed and selfish desires, which led to us veering off that path towards righteousness and eternal life. Many of us instead chose to walk on the path of worldly desires, doing things to preserve ourselves and our desires first. And those actions over our history, the history of mankind, had led to destruction, pain, suffering and terrible things to occur for many.

We should all realise that as those whom God had chosen to be His people, we must be righteous and just in all things. We cannot and we should not act in ways that are in contradiction to what we are, or else we are going to bring scandal both to the Lord, to our faith and to all the other faithful in the Church, and by our wickedness and lack of faith we shall be judged and will be found wanting.

We are hypocrites when we profess our faith in one way, and yet we act in another way. If we do not do what our faith requires us to do, then what good is our faith? To be a Christian, that is a true and genuine Christian, we have to heed what the Lord and His Apostles had exhorted us all to do, that is to obey God in all of His ways and to follow His laws and commandments, and not just doing them and obeying them blindly, but instead, do them with proper and genuine understanding.

That means, as St. Paul laid it out in the Epistle he wrote to the Church and the faithful in Ephesus, all of us ought to show love, concern, compassion and kindness to our brethren, starting from our very own families, and then to our relatives and friends and all others whom we meet and encounter on a daily basis, and even to strangers. And as what the Lord had taught us, we as Christians should learn and indeed, commit to forgive the faults of our enemies and all those who hate us, for we too in some point of our lives, might have caused harm, suffering and pain to others as well.

That is the essence of being a true Christian, in how we should follow the Lord through genuine dedication and commitment, loving each other just as the Lord has loved us first. If God has loved us all even when we are still sinners and filled with wickedness, should we not then love our brethren all the more, with their imperfections and iniquities? We ourselves are also filled with the same sins, corruptions and iniquities as well.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all therefore from now on renew our commitment as Christians, to devote ourselves wholly for the Lord, for the cause of His people, and that through the love with which He had loved us, we too may show the same kind of love to Him, and also to love our brethren in the same manner. May the Lord help us in this endeavour, and keep us always forever in His love and grace. Amen.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016 : 30th Week of Ordinary Time (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : Green
Luke 13 : 22-30

At that time, Jesus went through towns and villages teaching, and making His way to Jerusalem. Someone asked Him, “Lord, is it true that few people will be saved?”

And Jesus answered, “Do your best to enter by the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has gone inside and locked the door, you will stand outside. Then you will knock at the door, calling, ‘Lord, open to us!’ But He will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.'”

“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets!’ But He will reply, ‘I do not know where you come from. Away from Me, all you workers of evil.’ You will weep and grind your teeth, when you see Abraham and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves left outside.”

“Others will sit at table in the kingdom of God, people coming from east and west, from north and south. Some who are among the last, will be first; and some who are among the first, will be last!”