Home NEWS - Caribbean Church Barbadian, Vincentian priests made monsignors - Apr 19
Barbadian, Vincentian priests made monsignors - Apr 19 PDF Print E-mail
2009 - Caribbean Church News
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 14:42

Archbishop Robert Rivas of Castries, St Lucia, has praised the commitment of two priests, recently given the honorary title of monsignors or “Chaplain of his Holiness” by Pope Benedixt XVI.

Fr George Bardowell of the diocese of Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Fr Vincent Harcourt Blackett of the diocese of Bridgetown, Barbados were made monsignors by the Vatican in late January.

The title Monsignor is a title of distinction given by the Pope to certain priests as part of a papal honour recognising the priest’s service to the Church. The bishop/archbishop nominates candidates for the honour and submits the names and biographies. The Holy Father then, if he wishes, confers the honour onto the priest. Once decided by the Pope, the Vatican Secretariat of State issues a diploma designating the new title and rank and recognising the newly-made monsignor’s service to the Church.

Archbishop Rivas, in Trinidad for a meeting at the Regional Seminary, spoke highly of both new monsignors during a March 31 telephone interview with Catholic News. Archbishop Rivas is the apostolic administrator for the Kingstown and Bridgetown dioceses.

He said both were active in the Association of Diocesan Clergy of the Province of Castries - Fr Bardowell is founding member - and that the title they have received is a special honour.

Msgr Bardowell“Fr Bardowell has given long service. He has a great love for the church in St Vincent, especially for the faithful in the Grenadines. This title is for his faithfulness to Church and commitment to the people.”

Msgr George Bardowell

Fr Blackett - one of only three diocesan priests in Barbados, and the first Barbadian priest to be confered the title - has played an important role in the Bridgetown diocese, which has not had a bishop since Bishop Malcolm Galt’s retirement in 2005. Fr Blackett is Archbishop Rivas’ resident delegate.

“His contribution has been recognised and appreciated by the Church. The people appreciate him as a priest,” said Archbishop Rivas.

Fr Blackett, in an interview with the Barbados Advocate, said he saw the title as bringing some attention to an area which has seen a decline in interest. “In the priesthood, people need to feel some sort of job satisfaction and recognition; and we have not had a lot of young men entering the priesthood in recent times. I think one of the reasons is that we’re living in a very materialistic and secular time where man feels that he has come of age...We have to present the priesthood with a new face and a new image and show people that you can be a priest, you can enjoy yourself and have satisfaction from it.”

Archbishop Rivas officially presented Msgr Bardowell with his diploma during the Chrism Mass in St Vincent, and did the same for Msgr Blackett at the Chrism Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Barbados.

Msgr Blackett formally presented to Barbados faithful

Sighs, whispers and cries of delight were still audible amidst the thunderous applause with which newly-appointed Msgr Vincent Harcourt Blackett was greeted, as he appeared for the first time in his official garb April 6 at the Chrism Mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Bridgetown.

Formally presented to the faithful by Archbishop Robert Rivas after Holy Communion, it was as if the collective heart of the Barbados Church swelled at the visible confirmation of all they had heard – that Fr Harcourt was now Monsignor. Fr Leonard Alfonso, parish priest of Our Lady of Sorrows, Black Rock, read aloud the text of the scroll – dated January 2009 – bearing the official appointment, which earned more applause.

Msgr Blackett

Msgr Vincent Harcourt Blackett

Archbishop Rivas told the congregation, which comprised representatives of the diocese’s seven parishes, that Fr Harcourt was the first diocesan priest of the diocese of Bridgetown and, having served there and in England and Africa, has held the post of Special Delegate for Bridgetown for the past four years.

In that time, the Bishop said, he found Fr Harcourt, “obedient and supportive”, noting that he had “rendered great service to the Church (here), England and Africa”. He also credited Msgr Blackett with having “held together the Church in this transition period”; the Bridgetown diocese has been without a bishop since Bishop Malcolm Galt’s retirement in 2005.

Addressing the congregation, Msgr Blackett thanked the many who sent congratulatory notes and had supported him throughout his priesthood. He pledged to live by the motto of his alma mater, Alleyne School, which translates, “for others, not ourselves”. – Laura Ann Phillips

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