|Fr Rudy Mohammed – A desire to be like a saint - Feb 7|
|Series - Priests of the Archdiocese|
|Friday, 05 February 2010 14:16|
Name: Fr Rudy Mohammed –Diocesan
Date of Ordination: September 25, 1960
Portfolio: Assistant Parish Priest at Santa Rosa (partial retirement)
It is not common to hear the first son of a Muslim father and an Anglican mother grows up as a Catholic and even more uncommon to hear that he becomes a priest. But this is the story of one of the older members of our clergy, Fr Rudy Mohammed.
Hailing from Carapichaima in Central Trinidad, his mother had him baptised as a Catholic for the simple reason that she found that the Catholic schools were the best in the country.
They eventually moved to Belmont when Rudy was 11 years old and he was able to make his first communion and confirmation at that point. By prompting from his godmother, he had been going to church.
He then moved from Belmont to Laventille and became involved in the Rosary parish. He says that he really enjoyed being part of the Catholic Church because of the sense of camaraderie that he felt.
His initial attempt to get into Fatima College was unsuccessful and he therefore went to Belmont Boys’ Intermediate School. A woman who knew him from his involvement in the church then assisted him in gaining entry to Fatima.
One thing he liked about Fatima was the fact that there was a monthly day of recollection where there was opportunity for prayer and reflection. At this point he began reading about the lives of the saints.
One saint he found to be particularly interesting was St Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. The life of this saint in particular nurtured in him a great appreciation for scripture and a desire to become like a saint.
In reading about the saints, he also found that there were some women who were recognised by the Church. This was surprising to him since from what he knew of Islam, women did not seem to be important. He therefore inquired about this to one of the priests in Fatima at the time, Fr Cockburn, who explained to him the concepts of angels and saints.
One day while he was on camp with the scouts, Fr Cockburn called him in and informed him that the Archbishop wanted to see him. It turned out that Fr Cockburn had told the then Archbishop, Count Finbar Ryan OP that young Rudy would make an ideal candidate for the diocesan priesthood.
Rudy had very little idea of what priesthood entailed but Fr Cockburn explained to him that this was an opportunity for him to become like the saints whom he admired so much.
He therefore entered the seminary in 1953. This was around the time when the first local diocesan priests were being ordained and he witnessed the ordination ceremony at the Cathedral.
During his time in the seminary, he came to understand what it really meant to be a priest. “What attracted me the most was being there for people,” he says, and this still holds today.
His parents did not like the idea of him becoming a priest as they had other expectations of the first of their 12 children. It was only when he and his father were in the company of a very respected government official, a Hindu, who impressed what an honour it was to become a priest that his father began to warm up to the idea.
Subsequently, both his father and mother at different times embraced Catholicism. His father actually went on to become a lay minister.
Rudy Mohammed was ordained a priest in 1960 and was assigned as assistant to the parish priest of Santa Rosa in Arima, Fr Patience. It was here, he says, that he learnt what it was to be a parish priest.
He then served in the parishes of Erin, Mt Lambert, Scarborough, Laventille, San Fernando and Icacos. He also had a stint at the Archbishop’s house as a secretary before he was given a scholarship to study in Canada.
He earned his Master’s degree in Religious Studies but was not successful in his pursuit of his doctorate when a Cardinal from Germany, Cardinal Ratzinger showed him serious flaws in his dissertation. Little did he know that this Cardinal would go on to become Pope Benedict XVI.
Today, Fr Rudy is semi-retired, serving in the very same parish to which he was first assigned, Santa Rosa. He says that while the priesthood does have challenges, such as temptation, he enjoys it. He stresses the importance of priests being there for people.
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