St Lucia’s cultural community paid tribute to Msgr Patrick ‘Paba’ Anthony, founder of the Folk Research Centre (FRC) by renaming it in his honour – The Msgr Patrick Anthony Folk Research Centre – at an August 9 ceremony at the FRC headquarters.
The occasion was in recognition of the St Lucian priest who celebrated his 70th birthday August 6 and whose work has transformed the archdiocese’s cultural and religious landscape for more than 40 years.
Established in 1973, the FRC is a repository for cultural heritage, a vehicle for research, study, recording and promulgating St Lucian’s rich heritage. It houses an extensive library of publications, audio visual recordings and photographs and is the major study centre for work carried out into St Lucia’s folk culture by both nationals and visiting researchers and students.
St Lucia News Online reported that among those present were the Governor General Dame Pearlette Louisy, a friend of Msgr Anthony; Archbishop Robert Rivas of Castries, Culture Minister Fortuna Belrose and other distinguished personalities involved in the arts and culture of St Lucia. Many of the original founders of the FRC were also present. The plate carrying the new name of the Folk Research Centre was unveiled by the Governor General.
A presentation was made to Msgr Anthony of the manuscript of a book titled The Road to Mount Pleasant: a handbook of Saint Lucian Culture compiled and edited by John Robert Lee and Embert Charles. The FRC will launch the book in October during Creole Heritage Month. Msgr Anthony also received the gift of a carving by talented St Lucian sculptor Jallim Eudovic.
In his address to the gathering, Msgr Anthony expressed appreciation for the celebration and called for the continuation of the cultural work of institutions like the FRC. He referenced the occasion to “the biblical image of the smallest seed that you sow that grows into the largest tree that can embrace everybody, everything.” “I think it is an apt symbol of what God has been able to use myself and the early pioneers in this movement. We’re just the instruments to do something that God wants done,” he told local news station, HTS News 4orce.
Contacted for further comment via email, he told Catholic News that the renaming of the FRC “is an indication of appreciation for the seeds of cultural awareness sowed so many years ago in the hearts and minds of our young people.”
He added, “For me it signifies the ongoing relevance of the debate about cultural identity and true development in the Caribbean which the FRC has championed from its inception. I feel humbled but gratified that the efforts of cohorts of young, passionate, imaginative and creative people without whom I would have achieved nothing has in this way been acknowledged.”
Msgr Anthony ended, “The issues of self-determination, critical consciousness and authenticity continue to dominate the development conversation in St Lucia and the wider Caribbean, and the FRC will remain at the cutting edge of that discourse.”