Termites undermine Singapore nuns

Nuns from a Singapore contemplative Carmelite community will leave their monastery together for the first time since World War II after termites undermined their convent threatening the roof with collapse.

The Singapore News reports that Carmelite Sisters will leave the confines of their hilltop monastery en masse for only the second time in 69 years since it was established along Bukit Teresa Road in 1938.

For many of the 15 nuns - most of them in their 50s and above - it will be their first view of modern Singapore as they make the 20-km trip next month to the Punggol Major Seminary, where they will live for the next six months while pest exterminators swing into action and repairs are carried out to the monastery.

World War II caused the first disruption to the sisters' life who were forced to take refuge after their monastery was converted to an anti-aircraft base by the British and later occupied by the Japanese.

After the War, the nuns found the monastery looted and dilapidated. But they made it habitable again and eventually added three new wings and the chapel.

An enclosed order, Carmelite nuns do not, as a rule, leave the monastery from the time they take their vows as young women. In February 1984, a columbarium was built inside the monastery. Since then, 11 sisters have died in the monastery. Their remains - along with those nuns who died earlier - are interred in the columbarium.

A self-contained community, the nuns make religious items for the Catholic Church to raise funds to help pay for their daily needs. But most of their days are spent in prayer. The doors of the monastery are open to all who seek spiritual comfort, and a regular stream of visitors, including non-Catholics, turn up daily to pour out their worries to the nuns.

The nuns do keep up to date with current events via a TV set in the monastery, which is regularly turned on for news and other programs deemed relevant by the Mother Superior, the head of the monastery.

Nuns forced out of convent by termites (Today Online, 23/2/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Termites (Wikipedia)
Carmelites (Wikipedia)

26 Feb 2007