In mid-1990, with the intention of finding some solace during their hectic work schedule, three individuals, Vincent Lawrence, Kenneth Goh and Dennis Tang organised some Rosary sessions at one of the trading houses in the Raffles Place area. Fr Eugene Vaz agreed to act as the group’s initial spiritual director, giving advice, celebrating the Eucharist, as well as allowing the use of the Singapore Pastoral Institute at Queen Street as a venue to hold some of the Masses. In the following year, 1991, they approached Fr Terence to assist them in their spiritual growth. Rosary sessions were conducted and the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was introduced. Eventually, this gave way to the celebration of the Eucharist. The group of Catholics working in the Central Business District (Raffles Place area) got together, calling themselves “Catholics in the Market Place” (CIMP). They started to come together weekly for prayer, Rosary sessions and fellowship.
The CIMP decided to assist others who had the desire to celebrate the Eucharist to organise their own Eucharistic Celebrations. The first Eucharistic Celebration 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. After the first celebration, the management refused to allow its premises to be used. The group moved to the basement training room of CNBP with the help of Henry Tan of ABN Amro, and then to the conference room of the Money Brokers at Standard Chartered Building. As the congregation grew and the conference room could not accommodate the larger numbers, a larger “permanent” venue was found at the Terrace in Victoria Concert Hall and from then on, lunchtime Masses were held there every Wednesday. As the Eucharistic Celebrations became a weekly affair, Fr Terence Pereira volunteered to be the regular celebrant. While at Victoria Concert Hall, weekly Eucharistic Celebrations attendance numbered approximately 100 to about 120. The two groups eventually merged to form CPS Raffles when CPS was established.
However, with Victoria Concert Hall undergoing major renovations since June 2010, a new venue had to be sourced. After many months of sourcing and trials, another “permanent” venue was found in a rented function hall at The 3rd Space in China Square Central. The function hall can accommodate up to 320 people comfortably. Currently, there are three masses at 11:30am, 12:15am and 1:15am and the biggest attendance is seen at 12:15am with a weekly average of 140 to 150 people. The total weekly attendance at CPS Raffles now stands at 250 to 280 people. On Days of Obligation, CPS Raffles is an ideal location for working Catholics in the Raffles Place and Marina Bay areas to participate in the Eucharistic celebrations.
A group was formed with the aim of bringing Catholic workers/colleagues/partners together in the Central Business District (Shenton Way area) and to support one another spiritually in the workplace. The group had observed Eucharistic celebrations held by the Raffles Place group and decided that they could hold such celebrations as well. Jeffery Neo was guided by Dennis Tang (from Raffles Place group) to organise the Eucharistic Celebrations and put them in touch with Fr Terence who agreed to celebrate the Eucharist every Friday. 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 with the assistance of Carlo Cheo.
Eventually, as the group grew, they found another venue at SIA Building. Subsequently, this was pulled down for redevelopment and the venue was moved to a room at the Singapore Conference Hall. Then, the venue shifted again to the DBS Theatre when the Conference Hall was being renovated, and moved back to the Conference Hall when DBS Theatre itself needed to be renovated.
During that time, the leaders of the centre decided that attending the Eucharistic Celebrations was insufficient and they went on to organise talks on Fridays. The centre 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.
The group started with about five people and now has two Masses with a combined attendance of about 150. On Days of Obligation, numbers may exceed 300.
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 Royal Plaza Hotel dropped a bombshell, saying they could not provide a room for the following week as well as on a permanent basis. Thus, within a week, a frantic search was on for an alternative venue. All the hotels within the Orchard vicinity had no rooms to offer. However, the Grand Hyatt Hotel had only the discotheque available. The approval of CPS’s Spiritual Director, Fr Terence, was given after a visit was made to the Chinoiserie discotheque. The hotel charged only a minimal rental of S$50 per week.
The first anniversary Mass in 1997 was celebrated in this discotheque. His Grace Archbishop Gregory Yong was approached to celebrate Mass, but he was not available. However, he faxed CPS Orchard a beautiful message which was read out to the congregation that evening. Click here to view His Grace’s letter as well as the flyer providing details of the anniversary celebration.
The Eucharist was celebrated at the discotheque for about two years before Grand Hyatt Hotel subsequently moved the venue to a function room as the discotheque was being renovated. The Eucharistic Celebrations have been held at this hotel ever since. CPS Orchard is now in its eighteenth year, with Masses being held at the Brix Pub for the last two years as Grand Hyatt Hotel closed all the function rooms for major renovations.
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, the Catholic Prayer Society went in search of a venue and people to form a new centre.
The initial support came from a dedicated group of Catholics working in a legal firm in the Suntec City area. The first choir, along with a very dedicated choir mistress, came from the staff of this same firm. Initially, the team also took care of the setup and other preparations for the Eucharistic celebrations. Subsequently, a small sub-committee was formed comprising the people who worked in the Suntec City area and some retirees. They set up the altar and sound system, registered Mass intentions and welcomed all who attended the weekly Eucharistic Celebrations. The centre is greatly supported by priests from various parishes who prepared great homilies and celebrated two Masses a week.
CPS Suntec (previously known as CPS Suntec City) 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, the foyer of auditorium was used, which could accommodate up to 300 people during Days of Obligation. CPS Suntec was and still is constantly challenged by the need to find venues. At times, they were like “nomads”, shifting from The Rock foyer to the Suntec Convention Centre, and occasionally even to a cinema hall at Eng Wah Cineplex. When The Rock moved out of Suntec City, the Eucharistic Celebrations were moved to a dance hall and then to The Rock’s converted worship hall at the former Prince theatre at Beach Road. Currently, two Masses are celebrated every Tuesday at the Kids Performing Academy of the Arts at Millenia Walk.
When CPS wanted to diversify its activities from just organising the Eucharistic Celebrations, CPS Suntec was one of the first to help with organising workshops for working Catholics. It also started a small cell community as part of its evangelical activities. The centre has also organised Stations of the Cross during Lent and faith formation activities, all of which were well attended.
Now in its fifteenth year, CPS Suntec continues to face the challenges of finding a regular venue to worship, coping with rental costs and finding new people to help with organising the celebration of the Eucharist.
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.
After some time, to enhance and enrich their spiritual faith at work, members decided to have the celebration of the Eucharist as well. By God’s grace, Dr Douglas Ong, a member of the pioneer group, was approached by the then President of CPS who encouraged the group to start a new centre, CPS Outram.
The first Eucharistic Celebration at Outram was celebrated on 3 November 1999 at the Medical Alumni Association building, where it is still currently being held. Weekly Eucharistic Celebrations were then scheduled during lunchtime on Wednesdays, with two sessions, one at 12.15pm and another at 1.15pm. At times, the attendance at the Eucharistic Celebrations dwindled to only three persons and there were thoughts of closing down the centre. However, with the support of Fr Terence, the group pressed on.
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.
When the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School opened its campus in the SGH, the participation of members from the academic sector increased the attendance of the lunchtime Eucharistic Celebrations.
CPS Outram will continue to run the lunchtime Mass to serve as a platform for working people to live out their Catholic faith more fully during their workweek.
In January 2006, a call from CPS was made via a little notice in The Catholic News for people interested in setting up lunch time Masses in the International Business Park (IBP) at Jurong East. This would be the first CPS centre outside of the main city area.
The initial meeting, comprising only four people, including two CPS Representatives (Francis Chan and Cecilia Loke), was held at the IBP’s Atrium (now demolished) on 26 January 2006. Various administrative, logistics and manpower issues were discussed at length. Thereafter, the group met monthly, and eventually Fr Terence Pereira suggested that the Eucharist be celebrated weekly to gauge the response.
IBP is a complex of multi-national companies and the group felt sure there were Catholics who would be keen to come forward and join them. However, they had yet to source for a suitable venue with reasonable rent, and were also concerned about how to spread the word around.
By God’s grace, a meeting room at the German Centre was found to be a suitable venue, being able to accommodate the requirement of about 40 people. The date of the inaugural Eucharistic Celebration was planned for Friday, 7 July 2006, at 12.15pm.
Publicity for this new CPS centre rolled out around mid-June, and a set of Eucharistic Celebration kit was also provided to the team. The day arrived and Fr Terence celebrated Mass with a congregation of about 20. Being inexperienced, the new team was absolutely nervous, but May Tan and May Yip from the other CPS centres were on hand to assist so that all proceeded smoothly. The music ministry of CPS Suntec joined in lending their voices as a choir together with guitarist Anthony Lim.
Currently, as with other centres, CPS Jurong constantly faces uncertainties and restrictions in venue availability. Attendance averages 30 for each Mass and can reach to 90 for Days of Obligation. On days where venues for the Eucharistic Celebrations are unavailable, the group gathers 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.
It was the blessing of God that brought such wonderful people together to make it possible. CPS Jurong’s goal is to touch the lives of fellow workers through the Holy Eucharist and Sacraments as well as be able to bring growth in faith, comfort and strength to all who come.
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 on 21 February 2014 to help organise Masses in Changi Business Park. This would enable Catholics working in the Changi area to retreat from their workplace in the midst of the workweek and come together to celebrate the Eucharist at a venue that is just a stone’s throw away from their offices.
To gauge the response of Catholics to the lunchtime Masses at Changi, the team decided to organise Eucharistic Celebrations for three months from May to July 2014.
In preparation for these lunchtime Eucharistic Celebrations, the team met during lunch time every Wednesday during the Lent period from 12 March to 30 April for discussions, prayers, reflections and fellowship.
Fr Terence Pereira, as well as priests from the East district, Fr Joseph Zhang, Fr Terence Kesavan and Fr Charlie Oasan agreed to celebrate the Eucharist during this trial period.
The first Eucharistic Celebration was celebrated by Fr Terence on 7 May 2014 at the UE Convention Centre. Members from other CPS centres were also present to help out. The response was simply overwhelming with an attendance of about of 120 people and there was only standing room by the time the Mass began. The space in the two conjoined meeting rooms where it was held was filled till it was bursting at the seams. In May, the Mass for Ascension Day was also celebrated in the Auditorium and this was well attended by about 200 people.
The strong response gave the team confidence in making the lunchtime Eucharistic Celebrations a permanent fixture in Changi beyond the trial period. 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. Thus, CPS Changi has become the latest addition to the family of CPS centres.
CPS Changi continues to pray that more Catholics working in Changi Business Park and the east will be drawn to attend these lunchtime Eucharistic Celebrations and make time for God even in the busyness of life.
The year 2007 marked yet another phase in the journey of CPS to serve the working community. A simple four-session program called “Kerygma” had been introduced in 2006 to introduce the faith to enquirers. However, members of the team felt that RCIA should be offered to those faith seekers. Hence, they persuaded Fr Terence to commence such a process.
Finally, with Fr Terence’s approval, members of the “Kerygma” team approached the Archbishop for the approval to commence the RCIA process in town. The approval was given on one 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”, is an adaptation of the Alpha course. At each weekly lunchtime session, Christians are encouraged to share the Good News and renew their faith and inquirers are encouraged to field questions about the Christian faith.
CPS’s formation programme, lunchtime RCIA, aims 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. Hopefully, they will join their parishes’ ministries after baptism.
Just as Jesus is the Bread of Life for everyone who believed in him, we aspire for CLARE to provide spiritual sustenance to everyone joining our weekly meetings and to experience the immeasurable and abundant love of God in their life’s journey.