Rev Fr Louis Loiseau, MEP
Fr Louis Loiseau was born at a farm, one mile from the village of Trémentines, Anjou about 200 miles from Paris, France. He was the second child in a family of five. His siblings are Yvonne (born 1924), Marguerite (1937), Marie Thérèse (1940) and Henri (1944). Fr Loiseau's father was a farmer and proud of his occupation. His mother was a devoted housewife and helped in the farm whenever she could. Life in the country side was quiet and simple.
Call to the Priesthood
When he was a young boy, his father often told him about the heroic resistance of Catholics in his province during the French revolution in 1793.
The family had a book at home depicting the struggle that opposed believers to the armies of the French republic that were closing or burning churches and killing priests.
Fr Loiseau was fascinated by the courage of these priests and their fidelity to the people and God. He decided to join the priesthood at the tender age of 10.
His father showed some difficulty accepting the young boy's wishes. After all, he was his first-born son and there were only two children in the family then. Naturally, he had expected him one day to take over the farm.
Nevertheless, he responded with generosity and accepted his son's calling as both a gift and a cross.
Fr Loiseau joined the Minor Seminary in September 1937, at the age of 11.
During his training there, his decision to love Christ and even to die for his people became clearer; Nearby, the Spanish civil war of 1937 was ongoing with thousands of priests and religious killed by communists and atheists.
When World War II broke out in 1939 and Hitler's armies seemed invincible, persecution became a real possibility.
These events and stories of priests receiving their martyrdom in various parts of the world weighed upon the young aspiring priest.
Still, he deeply admired the "good priests" who died for God and his people and persevered in his calling.
He took his final exam on 3rd June 1944. (It was three days before D-Day and the day Allied forces landed on the beach of Normandy to liberate Europe from the grip of Hitler's armies). He joined the Angers Seminary on 20th November 1944.
A Journey of A Lifetime
Fr Loiseau was 15 years old when he decided to serve the Lord in a mission country.
His reading of the lives of saintly missionaries pictured for him the greatness of one's life devoted to bringing the Gospel to the pagans.
It was only two years later, after speaking to a member of the Paris Foreign Missions Society, that his desire materialized. He joined the Paris Foreign Mission (MEP) seminary on 14th Sept 1946.
Two months later he performed his National Service for ten-and-a-half months in Germany. He was ordained sub-deacon on 29th May 1949 (taking vows of breviary & celibacy), and ordained deacon on 17th December 1949.
On 28th May 1950, Pentecost Sunday, Fr Loiseau was ordained priest and appointed to Rangoon, Burma on 29th June in the same year.
He went to England from 19th March to 27th October 1951, where he studied English while helping in a parish at Ruislip, Middlesex.
On 30th Nov 1951 he left home for Burma. It was a disheartening situation then as three MEP fathers and three local priests had been slain in the diocese of his "dreams".
His mother was sick and his father had begun feeling some pain in his throat (which developed into cancer later on).
Sorrowful, his father still remained steadfast and encouraged Fr Loiseau in his calling. Saying farewell at the train station: his father shed a tear - while the young Fr Loiseau remained dry-eyed.
The sea voyage was long and he left Marseilles (4th December 1951), to call at Singapore (29th December 1951), and Penang (30th December 1951) before reaching his destination on the 2nd January 1952 at 7 pm in Rangoon.
He then studied Burmese in Myaungmya, and started teaching in Mayanchaung near Bassein from 2nd December 1952 till 15th March 1955 in the Central School (150 boys) and the Minor Seminary (3 Latinists).
From 15th May 1955, he was in charge of the Minor Seminary in Rangoon, near the Cathedral. Children, about eleven years of age, came from the villages and studied English for one year, older ones attended school at the F.S.C. Brothers' Secondary School (St Paul's 4000 students) on the other side of the wall, and those who passed Matriculation studied Latin for two years before going to Major Seminary in Rangoon.
The eighty boys and two priests (Fr Jeannequin & Fr Loiseau taught Latin. Fr Jeannequin was Spiritual Director) lived on an annual allowance of US$150.00 per boy.
During the holidays Father Loiseau would visit the villages in the diocese and sometimes gave retreats to religious as far as Bhamo and Kalaw.
On 22nd March, 1966 while on a visit to Myaungmya, Fr Loiseau learnt of the order of the government for all foreigners on temporary-stay permit to leave before the end of the year.
Two hundred and thirty-five Catholic missionaries (priests & religious) were affected. Fr Loiseau had to leave by 30th April 1966.
On arriving in Paris, the customs official upon looking at Fr Loiseau with his white cassock, said: "Oh, you are the nurse, please �" and let him go.
Leaving Father and Mother to follow Jesus
Fr Loiseau left his parents on the 30th November 1951. He did not see his father again. In those days, letters were the means of communication: it took about three weeks before you receive a reply to your own letter.
In December 1957, Fr Loiseau's father was dying of generalized cancer. He wished to see his elder son, and one daughter phoned to Rangoon. In those days, missionaries did not come back before 10 years.
But when the bishop of Rangoon on 'ad limina visit' came to Trementines, Fr Loiseau's father, then 61, told him to assure his son that his place was to be at God's service in Burma.
He died three months later on the 13th July 1958. Fr Loiseau had a funeral Mass for him with the seminarians.
As for his mother, she was to see him a number of times in 1960, then from 1966 to 1971. But she died suddenly at the age of 73 on 24th January 1977. This time, Fr Loiseau could not go and the funeral Mass was with fellow priests and parishioners at Church of Immaculate Heart of Mary, Singapore.
Serving in the Lion City
When he came to Singapore, he was first posted to St Bernadette and served the parish from 5th December 1968 to 5th May 1969.
After that, he served at the Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, from 18th November 1971 to 19th June 1981, becoming parish priest in 1972 when Fr Berthold fell sick.
Thereafter, he served at the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succor from 19th June 1981 to 30th April 1990. Fr Loiseau became parish priest in 1982 when Fr Arro became Superior of MEP priests. He was then posted to serve at our Church of the Risen Christ since 23rd Sept 1990.
At our Church, Fr Louis Loiseau has been assisting three parish priests, namely Fr Francis Lee, Fr John Lee and currently Fr John Sim.
A few more years later, Fr Louis would set a new record in our parish, that is, exceeding the existing service record of 19 and half years set by Fr Francis Lee (he served at our parish from September 1983 to February 2002). Not only do we wish Fr Loiseau well in setting a new record, we wish him more good years to come, in the service of the Lord.
Contributions to Internal & External Organizations
In our parish, Fr Loiseau is active in the ministry to the sick and elderly. He also conducts RCIA and is Spiritual Director to five praesidia of the Legion of Mary and the Curia, as well as Spiritual Director to the Society of St Vincent De Paul Conference and in particular, Council North.
Fr Louis Loiseau has served actively in various religious organizations outside the Church of the Risen Christ.
He was a judge in the Matrimonial Tribunal until 2004, Senatus Legion of Mary until 2003. He is also an active facilitator and spiritual director for organizations such as Marriage Encounter (55 weekends), Engaged Encounter (55 weekends), Choice (24 weekends) and Retrouvaille (13 weekends).
He was the Chaplain to the French speaking Community and has ministered to them since 1991 till 2003.
Hopes & Aspirations for our Parish
Fr Louis says he has aspirations for the younger generation but things will only happen when all of us (husbands and wives, parents and children, parishioners and clergy) answer God's love with the full gift of ourselves.
Favorite Scripture Verses
Whenever Fr Loiseau is tempted to give up the struggles of this life and ignore his calling, he recalls the sacrifices his parents have made for him.
The veteran priest also receives inspiration and comfort from the words of St Peter, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you!" (John 21: 17).
He is also specially reminded of God's abundant love and mercy in a scene from the Gospel of Luke, whereby a criminal implored "...Remember me, Jesus, when you come as King!" and received salvation at the 11th hour.
On a no-cholesterol diet ("if you need to slim, keep your mouth shut").
During his limited free time, Fr Louis Loiseau reads books on theology, church teachings, Holy Scriptures and literature. He also prefers listening to soft soothing music.