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December 7, 2018
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December 7, 2018

Connell remembers his decades of serving

Brian Connell, the Archdiocese’s most senior altar server. Photo: Raymond Syms

Sixty-four-year-old Brian Connell has been an altar server for 58 years; he was at the Cathedral on the historic day March 19, 1968 when Anthony Pantin became the first local archbishop of Port of Spain.

Connell said his grandmother sang in the choir of the Cathedral and he started as an altar server in 1960. Over time he served at Sacred Heart, Rosary, Success, Morvant.  He was chosen to walk with a candle in the procession for Archbishop Pantin’s episcopal ordination and remembers the “massive crowd” of thousands in attendance.

Connell recalled the anxiety on the faces of the congregation for the first local archbishop. “Even as an altar server I was anxious because it was the first bishop I ever served,” he said.  The day had other memorable moments which Connell could look back on today with humour at his younger self—he fell while walking on the altar and was “pulled up by the head altar server for talking too much in the sacristy”.

He added, “Apart from that I can remember the solemn occasion when the procession came out, so solemn having all the priests involved, Fr Naughton Grey and all those priests involved at the time. It was a great joy and having served then and made the 50th year of his [Pantin’s] anniversary. I am happy to be here.”

When Connell started there were 70 altar servers at the Cathedral and 30 served at the ordination. Today there are about 52 altar servers.

Were there any words Archbishop Pantin said which have remained with him? “I recall quite clearly he said he is willing to work with the people. He is here with them, amongst them, and they can come to him at any time.”

Connell is one of the most experienced altar servers in the archdiocese. He said: “All I think with that special presence here I am able to show my younger ones that they too can make it, and as an example to the younger ones.” – Lara Pickford-Gordon