Future Archbishop of Singapore's Catholic church ordained

While we are all anxious about the Pope’s resignation, the Church of Singapore has good news for the universal Church. We have a new Archbishop Coadjutor, His Grace Monsignor William Goh! :slight_smile:

Future Archbishop of Singapore’s Catholic church ordained

The future Archbishop of the Catholic Church of Singapore was ordained on Friday evening in a ceremony attended by more than 14,000 political dignitaries, religious leaders, and Catholics from Singapore and around the region.

Father William Goh was ordained as the Archbishop Coadjutor of Singapore, meaning he will now be the deputy to Archbishop Nicholas Chia. He will also take over the top post in the local church - made up of around 303,000 Catholics - when the latter retires.

Friday’s ceremony at the Singapore Expo was presided over by Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, the Vatican envoy - or Apostolic Nuncio - to Singapore. He was assisted by Archbishop Chia and Archbishop Murphy Pakiam from Kuala Lumpur.

The ordination was also attended by President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.


Here are other similar articles from other news agencies in Singapore. :slight_smile:

William Goh ordained as new head of Catholic Church
SINGAPORE: The new head of the Catholic Church in Singapore was ordained in a three-hour ceremony on Friday evening.

Singapore’s next archbishop William Goh: Giving himself to God’s people
Catholics from all over Singapore and across the region clapped and cheered for the newly ordained Coadjutor Archbishop of Singapore, Monsignor William Goh (above), at a ceremony at the Singapore Expo on Friday.

14,000 at ceremony to ordain S’pore’s future Archbishop
SINGAPORE — The future head of the Catholic Church in Singapore was ordained yesterday evening in a three-hour ceremony attended by 14,000 people, including President Tony Tan, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, religious leaders and Catholics from Singapore and the region.

And a short video summary of the splendid event!

This is great news! I’ve been to Singapore about six times. My impression was that it’s mostly Muslim. So, it’s good that the country is allowing for the Catholic Church to exist there.

I’m sure those words were well-meant, though they were based upon very curious premises. How did you get the impression that it was mostly Muslim?

To begin with, majority of Singaporeans are Chinese, and their ‘ethnic’ faith is a syncretic blend of Taoism and Buddhism, which collectively makes ups 44% of the population in Singapore. A related faith is Hinduism, found amongst the Indians, which makes up 5.1%. Already, you can tell Singapore cannot possibly be ‘mostly Muslim’.

Then here’s the shocker: Islam makes up only 15% of the population, mostly confined to the ethnic Malays and some South Indians. Christianity, on the other hand, make up 18.3% of the population, spread amongst Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, and Filipino immigrants.

Something leads me to believe you may be confusing Singapore with the neighbouring countries of Malaysia and Indonesia, which are mostly Muslim, but do have a very strong and vocal Catholic Church. :slight_smile:

You’re right, they are mostly Buddhist in Singapore. Maybe I got the impression that they were mostly Muslim from how they have a Crescent on their flag. My memory of being in Singapore might have also gotten blended over time with my memory of going to Malaysia once.

Very well dressed prelates and other clerics, I’m quite impressed. Beautiful Gothic vestments that are not ginormous like they often are.

Here are some photos for everyone, uploaded by our Archdiocese. The images given are only thumbnails. The full-resolution pictures are on the page as linked below.

Our Archbishop Coadjutor upon his throne.

The head of the massive procession. This is Hall 10, where the altar was physically located. Do note that the walls are black.

His Grace blessing the crowd. Note now that the halls are white, which indicates that this is a different hall. This is actually Hall 9, just adjacent to the previous one. There were so many faithful present that the two largest halls were needed to accommodate them for the mass. Despite the fact that the faithful here could only see the sanctuary via a live video feed, the crowd here was also large, as evidenced by the picture above.

The bishops from the region during the Laying On of Hands. Note that the bishop third from left is His Excellency Mar Sebastian Vadakel from the Syro-Malabar Church, attending as requested by His Beatitude Mar George Alencherry, the Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church. There are a large number of Indian immigrants in Singapore, a good number of whom are Syro-Malabar Catholics. Their representation here is therefore greatly welcome.

I don’t blame you. It can be unfair to expect you to know off-hand the demographics in Singapore, given the fact that it is so small and keeps a low profile on the international media.

The crescent can indeed be quite confusing. Some speculate it was placed in the flag so as to placate the local and neighbouring Muslims, though the claimed symbolism is that of ‘a nation on the rise’. Singapore was also part of Malaysia once, so it’s understandable that people would think there is still some association. :slight_smile:

I agree! Incidentally, there was an article some time back in the our local Catholic newspaper covering the production of the vestments for this particular occasion. It gave a glimpse of the material that was to be used, but I was still hugely impressed on the day itself, when it was finally revealed to the public during the procession.

In summary, it was done by the Atelier Workshop, a non-profit team made up of religious sisters from the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and laity. Their mission is making Catholic vestments for all the clergy within the Archdiocese. (Yes, for better or for worse, the manufacture of vestments isn’t a commercialised market in Singapore.) Their style is very conservative, mainly composed of Christological and Eucharistic motifs set against a simple straight Gothic ophrey. One could fault them for their designs being on the more ascetic side, but I personally feel this works very well.

For this special occasion, they used brocaded gold silk as the basic material. Silk is incidentally both the finest fabric in Asian tradition and a traditional material for Catholic vestments, so it is fitting that it was used for this most special occasion. This material was used thematically for the vestments made for this mass, as can be seen not only in the vestments of the Archbishop Coadjutor but also - to a lesser extent - in those of the concelebrating prelates, and the stoles of the attending priests.

If you look at His Grace’s vestments, you might come away with a feeling that it has some rather Asian influences, and you would not be wrong. If you examine it closely, you may note many motifs within the silk. The most obvious are those of the cross and the vine, which are strong Christological symbols, woven with a lightly Asian flavour. In addition, the sharp-eyed amongst you might note a flower, which is the lotus. In Asian - particularly Indian - tradition, the lotus is regarded as a symbol of purity, for it is a flower that grows from muddy swamps, yet remains unsoiled in its beauty. It is therefore considered an appropriate symbol for an archbishop, not just for his personal purity and virtue in all its dimensions, but also for his mission to lead the growing missionary church undefiled by growing secularism and anti-religious influences in modern society.

Otherwise, the motifs present on the vestments are very traditional. There are the three crosses on the mitre and four on the chasuble, symbolising the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and there is the Chi Ro centred upon the mitre, one of the most ancient of Christograms, heavy and powerful in its significance without having to be loud and garish.

This day was doubly significant as both the Feast of the Chair of St Peter the Apostle, celebrating our communion with the Bishop of Rome, as well as an Ember Friday of the first week of Lent (if you still remember what these are). While white is the prescribed liturgical colour of this feast day and thus the main colour of all the other celebrants, gold was suitably and licitly substituted for Msgr Goh. Red was used as a secondary colour in Msgr Goh’s vestments. Red is doubly significant as both the festive colour of the Chinese on this most solemn yet joyous of occasions in the Church, as well as a harkening reminder of the descent of the Holy Spirit. In Chinese tradition, it is regarded as both a colour that brings luck and is associated with royalty, and is therefore most suitable for our shepherd to be enthroned in his cathedra. In Christian tradition, it signifies the tongues of fire of the Holy Spirit descending upon Msgr Goh during this rite of Ordination.

This was a long post, but I hope this helps anyone who has taken the time to read this. :slight_smile:

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