St Stephen lived approximately in year 30 AD and his name means “crown” in Greek. The apostles ordained him one of the first seven deacons to look after the widows. God worked many miracles through St Stephen and he spoke with such wisdom and grace that many of his hearers became followers of Jesus. His enemies were furious to see how successful Stephen’s preaching was and they laid a plot to kill him.
In the book of Acts of the Apostles, St Stephen’s speech to the Sanhedrin is the longest. After giving this speech, his enemies stoned him to death and he became the first Martyr of the Roman Catholic Church. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC, #2473), Martyrdom 'is the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith: it means bearing witness even unto death. The martyr bears witness to Christ who died and rose, to whom he is united by charity.'
St Stephen is the Patron Saint of Bricklayers and Stone Masons. The statue of St Stephen in our parish carries a Bible and a loaf of Bread. The bible reflects his role as a deacon and the wise preaching he was doing for the followers of Jesus. The loaf of bread reflects his role in distributing food to the widows and the poor, his main role as a deacon.
A wooden structure built on borrowed land! That was the humble beginnings of the Church of St Stephen. The story began when Father Pierre Bouttaz MEP started to visit the people living in the Macpherson Estate during his attachment to the Church of Our Lady Queen of Peace from 1958 to 1966. Upon his urging, plans were put into action to set up a parish that would serve the area.
At first, masses were said in the chapel, and later on, in the school hall of the Canossa Convent. Later an outhouse on stilts, originally a dormitory for orphan boys under the Canossian Sisters’ charge, was converted for Sunday worship. From the rickety wooden church, the community grew.
While it was Father Rene Challet MEP who started the efforts to raise funds for a proper church building, it was Father Joachim Teng who wrote to the Sisters for permission to build the church on a vacant plot of land belonging to the Canossian Daughters of Charity. After permission was granted, he completed the endeavour in spite of all the challenges that the early church had to overcome with the Building Control Department of the National Development. Undeterred, the church forged on, and on 15th August 1976, piling works for the church began. It was finally with much excitement that the church was eventually completed on 22nd April 1978 when it was blessed and opened by Archbishop Gregory Yong.
However as time went by, with only one small meeting room available, catechism classes and ministry meetings had to be done either in the church hall, in the dining room and even in the space in front of the priests’ residence. Elderly parishioners were also finding it tough to climb up to the second floor where the church was located. Coupled to this was the fact that the nearby construction of the Paya Lebar Expressway had caused the ground to sink and cracks to appear within the church and priests’ residence. So it was, that the task to go for a total overhaul fell on the shoulders of Father John Khoo to build a brand new church building. Not only were lifts added, a new belfry was also erected, together with a new annexe building for administration and priests’ residence.
The newly renovated church was blessed and dedicated on 21st October 2007 by Archbishop Nicholas Chia much to the delight of Catholics in the Macpherson Estate. Today, it is under Father Gerard Weerakoon’s charge as parish priest.
This was extracted and edited for brevity from the publication ‘A beacon of God’s light for the community: Dedication of Church of St Stephen’ 21 Oct 2007.
Fr. Gerard Weerakoon (Parish Priest)
6:00 PM (English)
9:00 AM, 11:00 AM (English)
3:00 PM, 1st Sunday of the month (Filipino)
5:30 PM (English)
Eve/Day of Obligation if it is a weekday: 6:30 AM & 8:00 PM
6:30 AM (7:00 AM on Public Holidays) (English)
Devotion to St. Anthony/Mass: Tue 8:00 PM
Devotion to Sacred Heart/Mass: 1st Friday of the month at 8:00 PM
Weddings: 6 months’ notification
Funeral: Please notify the priest immediately and discuss with him in person on funeral services before making any arrangement with the casket company.
Infant Baptism: 1st Sunday of the month at 12:30 PM
(preparation for infant baptism is on the last Sunday of the month at 12:30 PM)
RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults):
Thursdays 8:00 PM
Venue: RCIA/Choir Room at 2nd floor
Confession: Half an hour before Mass.
Society of St. Vincent de Paul: Visiting hours on Sunday from 10:00 AM to noon.
Catechism for children: Sundays 9:00 AM (English) and Saturdays 5:00 PM (Chinese)
Free tuition (MacPherson Tuition Project): Saturdays 9:00 to 10:00 AM