The gatehouse at St. Theresa’s Home in Singapore is seen Oct. 16, 2021. Behind the blue lettering, you can see words indicating this was a home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor. The buildings within are slated for conservation by the government. (Credit: Christopher Khoo/CNS.)
SINGAPORE — Authorities in Singapore have decided to conserve a cluster of Catholic-owned buildings for their historic, architectural and social significance.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority announced in mid-October a proposal to conserve six buildings and an entrance archway at St. Theresa’s Home, built by the Little Sisters of the Poor, reported The Straits Times.
Catholic Welfare Services, which runs St. Theresa’s Home, plans to move to another site to allow for more facilities and more beds by 2026. The home provides a residence for the elderly and aged sick with multiple services — medical and nursing, rehabilitation, spiritual and pastoral care, reported ucanews.com.
The historic structures include a chapel, dormitory blocks and an administration building, reported ucanews.com.
The development authority said the move recognizes the buildings’ “historical, architectural and social significance” and their contribution to “the sense of identity and character” of the area.
It said its conservation proposal has the backing of the Singapore Archdiocese, which has plans for “adaptive reuse of the buildings that have been proposed for conservation as part of its redevelopment plans for the site.”
The archdiocese plans to house a heritage center, church archives, offices and a retirement home for priests in the conserved buildings, turning it into a Catholic hub. “(This) allows the site to cater to modern needs while safeguarding its rich heritage,” said the development authority.
The redevelopment work is scheduled to begin in the latter half of 2022 and is to be completed by 2025.
According to historical records, the elderly home was the brainchild of the Little Sisters of the Poor, an international congregation of Catholic nuns, who collected money from philanthropists in the 1930s to build the home. It was designed by prominent Singaporean architect Ho Kwong Yew. The sisters, founded in France by St. Jeanne Jugan in 1839, are renowned for serving the old, poor and destitute worldwide.
During the early days of the home, when Singapore was under Japanese occupation forces amid World War II, the nuns provided shelter to some 300 families, despite the facilities being inadequate for so many residents.
The Little Sisters of the Poor moved out of Singapore on July 1, 2003, and Catholic Welfare Services, the social service wing of Singapore Archdiocese, took over management of St. Theresa’s Home.