The Church of St Francis Xavier, located within the neighbourhood of Serangoon Gardens, has seen the development of both its population of parishioners and church infrastructure.
Despite its sizeable membership, perhaps not many know of this beloved 60-year-old church located deep in the heart of Serangoon Gardens.
The residential estate was once a British enclave. In the 1950s, the church was erected to serve the approximately 15,000 people living within its 5-acre grounds, as well as parishioners residing in nearby estates.
Funds for construction works were raised with considerable effort. Led by Father Philippe Meisonnier, members of the church building committee conducted daily house visits over the course of 18 months to diligently make personal appeals for donations for the church.
The new premises — comprising the church building itself, the presbytery and quarters, as well as the parish hall — were completed in December 1958 at the cost of $210,000.
Inspired by the form of classical churches, the Church of St Francis Xavier was designed and reinterpreted with contemporary construction methodology and building materials. It has repetitive structural arches for the main building and is accompanied by an elegant bell tower with three diminutive metal bells set with a distinctive silver cross atop its spire.
The immense popularity of the church set it off on a path of continual expansion and renovations in the years to come. More facilities were built in subsequent years: a parish social centre for the youth, in 1977; a kindergarten and play school, in 1978.
These were followed by extensive upgrading in 1997. At the cost of $2.9 million, the original structure was rebuilt and renovated internally, with the addition of modern furnishings such as air-conditioning. The main hall was also beautified — retrofitted with a magnificent mural of St Francis Xavier, the church’s namesake, set in stained glass that extended across its façade.
Originally meant to seat 1,000, the church building had to accommodate 2,000 in its early years — double the number that it was designed for. Today, an estimated 5,000 Catholics are members of the church.
In 2019, the church embarked on a major rejuvenation project to upgrade its existing buildings. Estimated to cost $6.8 million, the refreshed premises cater to the increasing number of parishioners.
Buildings and sites featured on Roots.SG are part of our efforts to raise awareness of our heritage; a listing on Roots.SG does not imply any form of preservation or conservation status, unless it is mentioned in the article. The information in this article is valid as of December 2019 and is not intended to be an exhaustive history of the site/building.