CatholicNews is the official newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore. It is a fortnightly newsletter that covers local parish news, news from the Vatican and Catholic parishes around the world, as well as articles on contemporary religious issues. First published in 1935 as the Malaya Catholic Leader, the publication is sold in all 31 Catholic churches in Singapore, and in a few parishes in the main cities of East and West Malaysia.1 It is based at the Catholic Archdiocesan Education Centre at 2 Highland Road in Singapore.2

In the early 1930s, the Bishop of Malacca, Adrien-Pierre Devals,3 saw a need to provide a newspaper for the Catholic population in Malaya.

The first issue of the paper was published on 5 January 1935 and was titled Malaya Catholic Leader (MCL).5 Besides covering local and world news, it also featured pages specifically targeted at young people6 and women,7 as well as topics such as education.8

The paper was first published by Laurence Henderson and was printed by Lithographers Limited located at 37/38 Wallich Street.9 Henderson was succeeded by Reverend R. Cardon, who managed the publication from its 2 February 1935 issue10 until January 1942, when World War II made it impossible for him to continue with the publication.11

Post-war years
After the war, the Bishop of Malacca, Michael Olcomendy, decided to revive the publication.12 Hence, The Malayan Catholic Newsletter began its run on 2 July 1950.13 The publication was edited and published by Father Phillippe Meissonnier14 at 73 Bras Basah Road and was printed by G. H. Kiat and Co. Ltd. The 8-page newsletter was published fortnightly on Sundays and carried both local and world news.15

The following year, the publication became known as Malayan Catholic News, which was published fortnightly in a black-and-white tabloid format. Father James Kearney was its editor from 1951 to 1959.16

When the agreement for the formation of the Federation of Malaysia was formally signed in August 1962, the publication announced that it would change its masthead to the Malaysian Catholic News with immediate effect because the paper covered and was also circulated in the territories of this new federation.17

At the start of 1974, the publication changed its masthead to The CatholicNews18 at the request of the Conference of the Catholic Bishops of Malaysia-Singapore. The bishops thought it more appropriate that no particular country was referenced in the name of the publication since it dealt with religious and not political matters.

Since the resumption of the paper’s publication in 1950, it has had an uninterrupted run. The exception was in 1987 when then Archbishop Gregory Yong withdrew the 14 June 1987 issue from distribution following his meeting with then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on June 2, as it carried reports and pictures related to the arrests of 16 people under the Internal Security Act. The Catholic News was, however, able to proceed as usual following the withdrawn issue.19

The paper’s current print-run is more than 24,000 copies per issue and commands a readership of approximately 70,000 Catholics and non-Catholics in Singapore.20 An online archive of some of the past issues of the publication is available on the CatholicNews website.21

With the appointment of Monsignor Eugene Vaz as the paper’s new editor on 3 March 2003, the publication masthead was changed to Catholic News. This took effect in the 16 March 2003 issue.22


Gillian Lim

1. CatharineFernando, “Catholic Newsletter’s 50th Anniversary,” Singapore Monitor, 6 July 1985, 6. (From NewspaperSG); “About Us,” CatholicNews, accessed 10 March 2016.  
2. “Contact Us,” CatholicNews, accessed 10 March 2016.  
3. “Bishop Adrien-Pierre Devals, M.E.P.” The Hierarchy of the Catholic Church, accessed 28 April 2016.
4. Charles Goh Sin Chan, Catholics in Singapore (Singapore: Charles Goh Sin Chan, 1900–1970). (Call no. RCLOS 282.5957 GOH-[GBH])
5. Malaya Catholic Leader, 1, no. 1 (5 January 1935).
6. “Young Peoples Page,” Malaya Catholic Leader, 1, no. 1 (5 January 1935), 4.
7. “Woman’s Page,” Malaya Catholic Leader, 1, no. 1 (5 January 1935), 8.
8. “Education Notes,” Malaya Catholic Leader, 1, no. 1 (5 January 1935), 9.
9. Malaya Catholic Leader, 20.
10. Malaya Catholic Leader, 1, no. 5 (2 February 1935), 20.
11. Goh, Catholics in Singapore.
12. “Singapore’s CatholicNews Celebrates 50 Years,” The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), 9 July 1985.
13. The Malayan Catholic Newsletter, 1, no.1 (2 July 1950).
14. The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), “Singapore’s CatholicNews Celebrates 50 Years.”
15. The Malayan Catholic Newsletter.
16. “Society of Jesus (SJ), The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore, 28 April 2016.
17. “Catholic News Applauds Malaysia,” Straits Times, 18 August 1962, 11. (From NewspaperSG)
18. The Union of Catholic Asian News (UCAN), “Singapore’s CatholicNews Celebrates 50 Years.”
19. “Catholic News on Sale this Weekend,” Straits Times, 19 June 1987, 19. (From NewspaperSG)
20. CatholicNews, “About Us.”
21. “Archive,” CatholicNews, accessed 10 March 2016.
22. CatholicNews, 53, no. 6 (16 and 23 March 2003).

The information in this article is valid as at 2011 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


Catholic Church--Singapore
Newspaper publishing--Singapore