$60m needed to build Punggol church

$60m needed to build Punggol church
Artist's impression of the Church of t.he Transfiguration

A NEW Catholic church is being built in the north-east and it needs to raise $60 million to cover land and construction costs.

The Church of Transfiguration in Punggol was awarded the 3,000 sq m piece of land in 2013 for 30 years at $24 million.

Construction for the five-storey building is under way, with two basement floors completed since work started late last year. It is slated to open in March next year.

It still needs to raise $50 million, on top of the $10 million in building funds pledged so far by the Catholic community, since fund-raising started in September last year.

The church aims to meet the needs of the burgeoning 360,000-strong Catholic congregation in Singapore.

This includes a growing pool of migrant worshippers from countries such as the Philippines and India.

Located in front of Punggol Waterway Park and next to Punggol Interchange, it will serve, in particular, Catholics in estates such as Punggol and Pasir Ris.

The new parish will help ease the squeeze at Sengkang's St Anne's Church and Pasir Ris' Church of Divine Mercy, where worshippers often have to stand outside the doors during busy services.

It will be led by Father Joachim Chang, 52, and will hold between five and eight weekend services for about 15,000 worshippers in total.

He said: "With this new Punggol township, we see a need to have a church, especially when our neighbouring churches are so filled up that they cannot accommodate any more."

The Church of the Transfiguration will be the 32nd Catholic church in the Archdiocese's stable. It will be organising a fund-raising gala dinner and auction featuring, among other things, religious and contemporary art pieces at Fairmont Hotel on Sunday.

Father Chang said that the building committee reviewed the designs and materials needed to build the church.

The aim is to optimise the budget "without compromising on the essential elements".

He added: "We are very careful about expenditure.

"Aesthetics was not the main priority - the function of the space is more important."

Catholic visual elements will be weaved into the design, said Father Chang. For instance, the building's facade will be emblazoned with the image of Jesus Christ while its 1,100-seater chapel will sport stained glass windows by an Italian craftsman.

An authentic stone from Mount Tabor, in Israel, has also been incorporated into the foundation of the church.

Mount Tabor, in Lower Galilee, is the site of the transfiguration scene in the Bible - where Jesus spoke to Moses and Elijah and became radiant.

The building will have rooms for Catechism classes, communal areas such as a rooftop garden and 140 basement parking lots.

The church also plans to roll out programmes for the community. For instance, there will be seminars and talks on relationships, marriage and parenting for married couples.

Father Chang said it will also offer students a safe environment to study after school.

He also intends to organise walks and tea sessions for senior citizens.

"A real concern for the Government is the ageing population. We are aiming to help the Government take care of some of this load by developing programmes to care for the senior citizens in the day," he said.

Sengkang resident Juliana Low, a sports venue tour guide who has been attending St Anne's for the past decade, welcomes news of the new parish.

"It will ease the congestion and crowds. The team running the Church of the Transfiguration is very cheerful.

"I'm looking forward to the same spirit in the new church, which I believe will be a beacon of light in the estate."


This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.

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