Discriminating the Dead | St. Lucia Voice News

Discriminating the Dead | St. Lucia Voice News.

During the nineteen thirties in the village of Laborie, one would normally hear of the refusal of the Parish priest who, for one reason or another, would refuse permission for one to be buried in the parish cemetery. The only choice was for that burial to take place outside the boundary of the cemetery, in what was called “aba kanan”, “under the kanan”, a series of tall grass resembling those sugarcane plantations, and such burials became “taboo” on the deceased family for life.

Several other rules were arbitrarily enforced by Roman Catholic priests in the various districts, among which were baptizing infants born out of wedlock on Mondays and those born in wedlock on Sundays; the entrance for girls of the St. Joseph’s Convent born out of wedlock on Coral Street and not on Micoud Street which was reserved for those born in wedlock; segregated pews in churches, the omission of the father’s name on birth certificates if the child was born out of wedlock, an anomaly which is now causing headaches for anyone having to renew or obtain a passport in this new dispensation.

As I mentioned in previous articles, because of St. Lucia’s French orientation and the majority of her population speaking French Creole, the Holy See recruited and stationed priests of the FMI Order who were not bilingual and only spoke French in St. Lucia while, for what I have knowledge of, priests of the Dominican Order were stationed in Grenada, and both those of the Dominican and Jesuit Orders were stationed in Trinidad and Tobago.

Being very close to Father Brochard in Laborie, I became curious about the FMI Order and, as an engineering student in London in the fifties, my research on that Order terminated in the crypt of the Brompton Cathedral in Knightsbridge, London, which was within walking distance from my hostel at Hans Crescent. There I was informed by priests of the Dominican and Jesuit orders, that the FMI Order originated in specific monasteries in France, and is of a lower Order of priesthood to those of the Dominican and Jesuit Orders..

The Windward and Leeward Islands were under the diocese of the Archbishop of Port of Spain who visited the parish of St. Lucia once a year to confirm those who took the Holy Communion for the first time, and on one occasion, I was one of those to be confirmed. Hector, the chauffeur for the Catholic Church met the Archbishop at the then Beanefield Airport at Vieux Fort, and transported him to Laborie. The car stopped at the foot of the La Croix hill, and footmen lifted the Archbishop, sat him on a stretcher, and deposited the stretcher on an appropriately decorated covered canopy. Six pallbearers then carried the Archbishop under the canopy to the church where he conducted the confirmation ceremony. All along the route to the parish church, those of us to be confirmed and other onlookers chanted “Vive Monsignor, Vive Pierre Brochard”.


Such pastoral events continued in St. Lucia until the arrival of His Excellency Count Finbar Ryan, a Jesuit Archbishop of Port of Spain, who aborted this hero worship and, with the help of Father Jesse here, things began to change. Priests of the Jesuit Order participated in evening vespers during the Lenten seasons preceding Easter, and the thinking of even diehard Roman Catholics bergan to change.The powers of parish priests were reduced, discrimination among the living and the dead by FMI priests abandoned. Of course, no one can decry the contributions of Farther Brochard of Laborie, Fathers Vrignaud, Jesse and Gachet in Castries, who later became our first Archbishop. It must be remembered that the Roman Catholic Church first had full control of the education system of St. Lucia. Their priests chaired the Public Service Commissions for several years, and some of the civil servants they recommended for senior positions became future Governors-General, the first principal of the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College, and other senior positions in CARICOM.Today, it is a far cry from reality to hear the mother of a young man who it is alleged, and not proven by an ongoing inquest, that he hanged himself in a Micoud Police holding cell, lamenting on prime time television that the Micoud Parish priest refused her permission to bury her son in the Micoud cemetery. This is a matter for government’s intervention. No church has automatic control of burial grounds. The colonists, including Christopher Columbus, the Buccaneers, the British, French, Spanish and the Dutch were always accompanied by their priests, and the conquered spoils were shared among them.

As a result of those conquests, one witnesses the occupation of vast acreages of prime lands in the City of Castries and in the towns and villages by the Roman Catholic Church for their churches, presbyteries and schools with no grant from the Crown. But plots had to be found to bury the dead, and those burial grounds are Crown grants, and not properties of any church, even though they are known in the districts as cemeteries of the specific churches. Cemeteries were not part of those conquests and remain public property.

All the mother has to do is to get her lawyer to challenge the Micoud Parish priest. The lawyer should go as far as lodging a complaint with the Papal Nuncio in Port of Spain, with specific instructions to forward it to the Holy See for the ruling of His Holiness the Pope. No Parish priest should be allowed to make St. Lucia a laughing stock of the world of the internet where news media are instantaneous.

– See more at: http://www.thevoiceslu.com/let_and_op/2013/november/23_11_13/Discriminating.htm#sthash.tjLjzkHl.dpuf

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~ by iandiyanola on November 25, 2013.

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