In 1935, the Redemptorists came to Singapore from Australia, and their first residence was a rented bungalow at 339 Thomson Road, where the Thomson Medical Centre is now situated. The next year, the first Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help was erected and the icon of Our Mother placed in the Chapel in the Redemptorist’s residence.
After the end of World War II in 1945, the Redemptorists found a temporary home at 418 Thomson Road. On 29 November of that year, the first public Novena to our Mother of Perpetual Help was held and many people started attending these novenas.
In 1950, the Redemptorists in Singapore finally found their permanent home at the present site at 300 Thomson Road, and the new Redemptorist Chapel was solemnly blessed on 14 May 1950. Although officially known as the Church of St. Alphonsus (named after St. Alphonsus Liguori, the founder of the Redemptorist Order), the church became known as the ‘Novena Church’ following the popularity of the Saturday Novenas to Our Mother of Perpetual Help. On 21 June 1953, the first Novena Procession was held in the Novena Church grounds, and this started the tradition of an Annual Procession held every first Sunday of September.
In 1956, the Novena Church was extended to include a bell tower and the Redemptorist residence at the back of the Church. Side verandahs were added in the 1980s Later the St. Clement Pastoral Centre, built next to the Church, was blessed and opened in 1997. A new Redemptorist Residence was also built at the back of the Church.
The number of people who come to the Novena Church has grown enormously over the years. The Church is overcrowded, with people spilling on to the verandahs on either side, as well as onto the car park. These people stand and kneel patiently, but there is no protection against the hot sun or the pelting rain.
The present church is also unable to accommodate the large congregation that attends the Sunday masses at 9am and 5.30pm, as well as the weekday lunchtime masses and masses on Days of obligation. So the process of building a new church is in progress with a vision to meet the needs of the time.
The new church will continue to draw more people to Mother Mary, and to her Son, Jesus. The new St. Clement’s Pastoral Centre will provide facilities for teaching people interested in knowing more about Christ and the Catholic faith, and counseling those in need.