Purchased in 1961 by the late Archbishop Olcemendy, the site of the Church of St. Michael then comprised an old two-storey bungalow with an outhouse and a number of rooms independent of the main house. The bungalow served as a place of worship on the ground floor with the priests’ quarters located on the first floor. Sunday and weekday masses were conducted without frills in those humble beginnings. Fr John Lei was appointed the first parish priest and was later assisted by Fr Paul Tay. As soon as the nucleus of the parish was formed, a Church Building Fund Committee was set up for the building of a new permanent structure for the church and one of the

parishioners, Mr. Philip D’Almeida, an architect, offered his professional services and time towards the construction.


During the building of the Church, an attap shed was put up in the backyard so that Masses could be celebrated without interruption. Various fund- raising campaigns were organized and donations in cash and kind poured in from

many parishioners and well-wishers. Towards the end of 1964, the Church was completed with a main building for worship and an adjoining block which housed the priests’ offices and living quarters.


Many old parishioners remembered the unpretentious beginnings back in 1961 when pews, altar candle stands and other necessary furniture were taken from the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd and even altar boys were ‘borrowed’ from the Church of Sts. Peter and Paul. The absence of church bells brought out the resourcefulness of Fr Paul Tay who taped the sound of bells from another church and used these for various special occasions. Fond memories still linger of the old church and some parishioners reminisced as follows:

I remember when I was in primary school, we used to have our Catechism classes in the old classroom. All the ladies then, including the girls, had to wear veils if they wanted to receive holy communion.”- Anastasia Anthony

Fr Abrial would close the church doors when mass started.”- Xavier Anthony

I was an altar boy and I remember Fr Barreteau as a systematic and efficient priest. He would be ready to serve mass even if the altar boys were not. The altar boys had their meetings at seven in the evening. After the meetings, we would play football on the basketball court. At ten o’clock, Father would switch out all the lights and tell the boys to go home.- Robert Durai

The boys would catch fish in the monsoon drains after mass. We also had floods every two years and sometimes we would see snakes swimming in the water. After the water subsided, the parishioners would all chip in to help clean up the church.”- Christopher Chin

Although the first Church of St. Michael was simple in its design, it had its own dignity and charm. Its special features were the position of the altar and the good acoustics. Sermons could be heard very clearly and the altar could be seen from any part of the church hall which enabled the congregation to follow the masses easily.”- Gerard Clarke

I’ve been with the Church of St. Michael since the 60’s and have seen its transition from the first bungalow to the second Church which was demolished. My whole family, consisting of my husband, seven sons, my daughter and myself have through the years been very involved in the various activities of the Church.”- Magdalene Lee

Adapted from the CSM Year Book: The New Church of St Michael (Official Opening 2 May 1994)