Jean-Marie Beurel

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Reverend Father Jean-Marie Beurel
Religion Roman Catholic
Denomination Roman Catholic
Institute Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Infant Jesus
Nationality French
Home town Plouguenast, France
Born (1813-02-05)5 February 1813
Plouguenast, France
Died October 3, 1872(1872-10-03) (aged 59)
Paris, France
Resting place Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris, France
Senior posting
Based in Singapore
Consecration Cathedral of the Good Shepherd
Reason for exit illness

Reverend Father Jean-Marie Beurel (5 February 1813 - 3 October 1872) was a French Catholic priest and missionary who founded the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, the St Joseph’s Institution and the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus girls' schools in Singapore.


Jean-Marie Beurel was born on 5 February 1813 at Plouguenast, in Lower Brittany, France. He was assigned to the Mission of Siam by the Missions Étrangères de Paris and arrived in Singapore on 29 October 1839 at the age of 26.

Father Beurel had come as a parish priest for the Roman Catholic chapel on Bras Basah Road. When Bishop Jean-Paul-Hilaire-Michel Courvezy talked of extending the chapel because it was getting too small, Father Beurel suggested that a church be built elsewhere so that the current site could be used for a school for boys.

Fund-raising for the Cathedral began in 1840. Faced with a shortage of funds, Beurel travelled as far as China and the Philippines to seek help. Contributions were received 4,000 francs from Queen Marie-Amelie Therese of France, 3,000 Spanish dollars from the Archbishop of Manila and the Protestant community in Singapore.

Of the two architectural plans submitted, the chosen design was by Denis McSwiney, a former clerk to George Drumgoole Coleman. The foundation stone was laid on 18 June 1843 by John Conolly, a merchant resident of Singapore. Cathedral of the Good Shepherd was completed at the cost of 18,355.22 Spanish dollars, and was consecrated by Father Beurel on 6 June 1847, before a crowd of more than 1,500 people.

In 1848, Father Beurel asked the Straits Settlements government for land to build a school, but was refused. He left Singapore on 28 October 1850 for France. While he was in France, Father Beurel approached the Reverend Mother Superior General Mother de Faudoas of the Infant Jesus Sisters to enlist some sisters in starting a school for girls. He returned to Singapore in 1852 with some Brothers from the Brothers of the Christian Schools.

In May 1852, Father Beurel and the Brothers founded Saint Joseph's Institution in the former chapel.

In July 1952, he asked the Straits Settlements Government once again for land next to the church for a charitable institution for girls. When he was told that there was already sufficient land given to the church, he bought a house in Victoria Street with his own money of 4,000 francs that George Drumgoole Coleman had built for H. C. Caldwell, Senior Sworn Clerk who later became Registrar of the Court. With the help of Mother Mathilde Raclot and her fellow Sisters, Town Convent, the first Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus, was opened in February 1854. To further the expansion of the Town Convent, Father Beurel had acquired all the nine lots of land that would constitute the entire Convent complex.

In 1859, Father Beurel had completed the parochial house next to the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd.

In 1868, he returned to France on account of illness. Father Beurel died in Paris, France on 3 October 1872 at the age of 59 and was buried in the Montparnasse Cemetery.

At the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd is a memorial plaque to Father Beurel.

Memorial plaque to Father Jean-Marie Beurel at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, Singapore.

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