The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd was yesterday filled with hymns and music playing from its restored 1912 Bevington and Sons organ, Singapore's oldest working pipe organ.
The mother church of Singapore's Roman Catholics hosted its first mass after a three-year, $40 million restoration project.
About 1,000 devotees attended mass at the historic 1843 building, with many spilling into its aisles.
Archbishop William Goh led the mass and acknowledged the contributions of the cathedral's former rector, Father Adrian Anthony, in his address. Father Adrian started and led the restoration effort from the get-go but then fell ill. Monsignor Philip Heng officially took over last November.
Archbishop Goh said: "Many people have contributed to restore this church - (the) rich and poor, influential and ordinary people, with all kinds of resources. Indeed, to restore the church was truly a very daunting challenge that we had to face."
The cathedral initially struggled to raise money for its restoration. Eventually, funds streamed in following efforts from within the archdiocese.
Highlights of the project include a new floor, restored stained glass windows, air-conditioning, and a new foundation for the structure.
Underground works in the vicinity, including the construction of the MRT Circle Line and the Singapore Management University, had caused its original underground boulders to shift. This led to the uneven settlement of the building, with cracks forming across the national monument.
Archbishop Goh yesterday also placed a time capsule and commemorative stone to mark the success of the restoration project.
The capsule included a book on the cathedral's history, commemorative SG50 notes and coins, and newspaper articles, including those from The Straits Times on the progress of the restoration and the discovery of its original time capsule, dating back to 1843. That was the year when the cathedral's foundation stone was first laid.
The original capsule, possibly the oldest one found in Singapore, held publications such as a prayer booklet, newspapers from 1843 and 24 international 18th- and 19th-century coins and tokens.
It was discovered in January under a column base on a series of granite steps along the cathedral's Victoria Street facade.
The cathedral's official consecration will take place on Feb 14.
Devotee Fredrick Gomes, 82, who has been attending the cathedral since he was a child, said the experience has improved. "The music and the choir were especially majestic. It was a wonderful mass."
Speaking on the cathedral's immediate future, Archbishop Goh said: "Now that this Cathedral is restored, the more important work is to be done and that is to restore the people of God... The cathedral is only a building; it's only a means. What is important really, is to build the interior lives of the people of God."
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