Before the formal decision to set up a permanent Jesuit community in Singapore, there were a handful of Jesuits already here, working under the authority of the then Bishop Michel Olcomendy. Most of them had arrived after being expelled from China. They included Father Andre Joliet, SJ and Father Jean Monsterleet, SJ from France, Father Arthur Berube, SJ from Canada and Father Patrick McGovern, SJ from Ireland. They were attached to different churches and were given other roles by the Bishop. Father Martin Shen, SJ, a Chinese priest working at the Vatican Radio as a Chinese writer and translator, arrived in Singapore in 1954, to be editor of the Chinese Catholic weekly, Hai Xing Bao, but left in 1957 for Taipei.
Father Paul O’Brien, SJ, the Hong Kong-based Jesuit Vice Visitor, came to Singapore in February 1951 and stayed for a week. Bishop Olcomendy had expressed a wish for a Jesuit house in Singapore. Religious brothers and sisters were also keen to be given retreats according to the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius. Father O’Brien, however, did not want to give the impression that the Jesuits were taking over the work of other missionaries and decided to assign a few priests for specific work, gradually and prudently, before setting up a Jesuit residence.
The earlier Jesuits in Singapore and Malaya were mostly from the Irish Province of the Society of Jesus who was running the mission in Hong Kong.