|Fr. Gerard PANTIN, C.S.Sp – RIP
Fr Gerard Pantin CSSp, passed away Monday June 23 at Spiritan House. He was 85. A prayer vigil was held at the St Mary’s College Chapel on Wednesday June 25 from 6 p.m. His funeral Mass was celebrated Thursday June 26 at St Theresa’s RC Church, Woodbrook at 9 a.m.
Fr Pantin was born October 29, 1928, the eldest of 10 children.
He won a Government exhibition at Belmont Boys’ Intermediate school to enter St. Mary’s College.
At CIC, he excelled in academics, winning the Island Scholarship for Science and the Jerningham Gold Medal in 1948 to cap a very consistent performance throughout his stay at the College.
While doing extremely well academically, he participated fully in extra-curricular activities, performing with distinction in cricket, football and scouting. Upon graduating from St. Mary’s, he taught at his alma mater for one year before leaving to study for the priesthood. Entering the priesthood represented a career change, as his original goal was to pursue studies in medicine.
He also achieved the B.Sc. (Honors) in Chemistry, Biochemistry and Botany, a Diploma in Education, a Diploma in Philosophy and a License in Theology.
After his ordination, he was reassigned to St. Mary’s where he taught science subjects, served as Dean of Forms Five and Six, and competently carried out the role of Games Master for a number of years in the 1960s.
He was the Founder and Co-ordinator of St. Anthony’s College (in 1968), the first comprehensive school in Trinidad, catering for special technological and science training for slow developers.
In 1970 came perhaps the most defining period in his life, the aftermath of the 1970 uprising in Trinidad. At that time, thousands of underprivileged and unemployed citizens marched through the streets, demanding justice and equality. As a priest, the events of that time made him determined to find a way to assist the poor and he decided that one way to do that was to interact with the youth of Laventille. The organization that grew out of those early initiatives became what is known today as SERVOL.
That organization is now one of the best organized NGOs in the country with some 15 Life Centres and 67 Early Childhood Centres, 9 Junior Life Centres, 3 Hi Tech Centres and 1 Advanced Skills Training Centre. It provides employment for over 600 persons and educates over 7,000 adolescents and young children per year.
In 1973 he founded the Trinidad and Tobago Development Foundation (FUNDAID) which guarantees loans for community projects.
The work of Servol has been recognized internationally and, in fact, a number of other countries have sought advice from Fr. Pantin towards establishing similar programmes in their homelands.
In 1994, UNESCO honored Servol for its work in the area of Early Childhood and Adolescent Development Programmes, listing it as one of the top 20 of their kind in the world.
In 1994 he was awarded the alternative Nobel Prize, an award that carried with it a grant of approximately TT $480,000, all of which was used to further the work of the group. The citation for the award read in part “for showing the crucial importance of spiritual values, co-operation and family responsibility in addition to practical skills and achievements in building a civilized society”.
He was awarded an honorary degree by Duquesne University in 1987 and by the University of the West Indies in 1990. He was the winner of the Express Individual of the Year award in 1980. In 1995 he was awarded this country’s highest award, the Trinity Cross.
|Last Updated on Monday, 21 July 2014 12:16