Catholic Prayer Society had early beginnings as informal prayer meetings held by a group of working Catholics in the city or central business areas. This group, calling themselves “Catholics in the Marketplace” (CIMP), initially had Rosary sessions and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Eventually, it had the Eucharist celebrated at OUB Centre. This group helped in the formation of another group within the same area and together they became CPS Raffles Place (known as CPS Raffles), holding their Masses at various locations around Raffles Place. Another group in the CBD area, inspired by CIMP, became CPS Shenton Way (known as CPS Shenton) and the Eucharist was held at the Singapore Conference Hall. Catholic Prayer Society was approved by the Senate in 1994 as a private juridical person and was registered in August 1995 with the Registry of Societies.
Through the years, more groups have stepped forward to organise lunchtime Masses and activities serving their own workplace community, including the Rite of Christian Initiation (RCIA) programme, faith formation talks and workshops during lunchtime at the Raffles Place area.
Due Covid-19 restrictions, CPS suspended all its activities from 15 February 2020.
CPS celebrated its 25th anniversary on 7th November 2020 using Zoom online.
The first Eucharistic Celebration (“EC”) for the Raffles Place group was held on 15 September 1991 with an attendance of about 50 to 60 people in the auditorium of OCBC Building at Church Street. Thereafter, due to varying reasons, the EC was at different venues including Victoria Concert Hall, China Square Central and TPI building. There were three timings i.e., 11:30am, 12:15pm and 1:15pm with total attendance of 250 to 280 people.
The first Eucharistic Celebration was held just after Pentecost on 26 May 1992 at a storeroom in the office of QBE Insurance at Cecil Street. As attendance increased, the EC was held in other locations and finally at Singapore Conference Hall. There were two timings i.e. 12.20pm and 1.20pm with the total attendance of about 150 people. In addition to the lunchtime EC, this centre had also organised three rallies which were held in the evenings at the DBS Theatre. Each of the rallies ran for three nights and about 100 to 150 people attended these rallies.
CPS Orchard had its inaugural celebration of the Eucharist at the Royal Plaza Hotel on All Saints’ Day on 1 November 1996. However, after this Mass, the hotel could not confirm the provision of a permanent location. After searching, the first anniversary Mass in 1997 was celebrated at the Hyatt Hotel and since then the the Eucharistic Celebrations have been held at this hotel.
The year 1999 saw a big shift of offices comprising major banks and multi-nationals from the downtown business district of Raffles Place to the newly created business centre of Suntec City. To cater to the spiritual needs of the working Catholics in the area, CPS Suntec celebrated its first Eucharist on Tuesday, 14 September 1999, in a small room (which later became the storeroom!) of The Rock Auditorium. As numbers grew, CPS Suntec had to find different locations for the EC and the venues ranged from The Rock foyer to the Suntec Convention Centre, the Kids Performing Academy of the Arts at Millenia Walk and finally in function rooms in Suntec Convention Hall. Two Masses were celebrated every Tuesday and from time to time, workshops and talks were organised.
CPS Outram had its humble beginnings way back in 1988 with a group of nurses from the Catholic Nurses Guild (CNG) who were working in Singapore General Hospital (SGH). They shared the Word of God with fellow Catholic employees working in SGH during their lunch breaks.
The first Eucharistic Celebration at Outram was celebrated on 3 November 1999 at the Medical Alumni Association building. Weekly Eucharistic Celebrations were initially held during lunchtime on Wednesdays, with two sessions, one at 12.15pm and another at 1.15pm. During the SARS outbreak in March 2003, the lunchtime Eucharistic Celebrations were suspended because of public health safety concerns. It resumed only in January 2004. Then in July 2009, the Influenza A H1N1 outbreak led to the suspension of lunchtime Masses once again. The Eucharistic Celebrations resumed on 9 September, with only a single session at 12.15pm.
This was the first CPS centre outside of the main city area. The inaugural Eucharistic Celebration was held in a meeting room at the German Centre on Friday, 7 July 2006, at 12.15pm. Attendance would be at an average of about 30 pax for each Mass and could reach to 90 on Days of Obligation. On days where the venue for the Eucharistic Celebrations was unavailable, the group would gather for Rosary recitation. Activities like Stations of the Cross and full-day retreats have been organised for spiritual input and to foster fellowship among the Jurong East Catholic community.
Inspired by the existing CPS centres in the city area, some members of Couples for Christ (CFC), with the help of CPS, formed a service team to organise the Eucharistic Celebration in Changi Business Park. Initially the team decided to organise Eucharistic Celebrations for three months from May to July 2014 to gauge the response of Catholics to the lunchtime Masses at Changi. The first Eucharistic Celebration was on 7 May 2014 at the UE Convention Centre. The response was overwhelming.
CPS Changi celebrated its official inaugural Eucharistic Celebration on Wednesday, 20 August 2014, at the meeting rooms of the UE Convention Centre at 12.15pm.
Catholic Lunchtime Alpha RCIA Experience
A simple four-session program called “Kerygma” had been introduced in 2006 to introduce the faith to enquirers. With the approval of the then Archbishop, the RCIA process commenced on condition that the “Alpha” course be conducted as well. The “Alpha in the Workplace” program was inaugurated in 2007, followed by lunchtime RCIA in the Raffles Place in 2008.
CPS’s outreach programme, “Alpha in the Workplace”, was an adaptation of the Alpha course. At each weekly lunchtime session, Christians were encouraged to share the Good News and renew their faith and inquirers were encouraged to field questions about the Christian faith.
CPS lunchtime RCIA seeks to ensure continuity in the inquirer’s faith journey, complementing the RCIA journeys held in the various parishes. The goal is to make RCIA available to those who cannot otherwise attend RCIA in the parishes. The Catechumens are encouraged to join the parishes during the weekend Eucharistic Celebrations for the Breaking of the Word and other rites of RCIA, leading to baptism in their respective parishes. The intention is that they will join their parishes’ ministries after baptism.