Blessed Sacrament Church
Text by Kelly Koh
An iconic church in the heart of Queenstown, the Blessed Sacrament Church has been a stalwart home for local catholics since the 1960s.
In 1954, Queenstown was under developmental planning to become the Nation’s first satellite town. It was to be self-contained and balanced, with all the necessary amenities, including places of worship. The Church of the Blessed Sacrament was allotted one of the religious sites, applied for by the Archbishop of the Malacca Diocese, Michael Olcomendy.
When the Parish priest and his assistant, Father William Van Soest and Father Odo Tiggeloven, arrived in Singapore from the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Holland, there were only a few catholics in Queenstown, and much effort was needed to raise funds for the construction of the church.
Designed by Y. Gordon Dowsett from Van Sitteran and Partners, the building’s most outstanding feature is its blue slate roof, constructed in folds in the shape of a tent and covering the cruciform main church. Glass panels were incorporated into the roof where the four sections of the cruciform shape meet to allow light into the sanctuary, creating a dramatic interior filled with light and air. Triangular niches form a convenient repository for books, and colourful glass panels adorn the three entrance facades.
Since its completion in 1963, the church has been constantly evolving to provide for the needs of the parish. When it was first completed, the two priests occupied the rooms that are now the kitchen and prayer room, before the presbytery was completed in 1964. Originally built to cater to 2000 parishioners, the number of parishioners increased to 7000 by the 1970s so in 1982, Damien Centre was built as a new extension for growing activities. Ten years later, in 1992, Damien Hall was completely renovated, and in 2007, New Damien Centre opened.
Given conservation status by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in 2005, we can look forward to more transformations to come, as the church’s demographics continue changing with its surroundings.