Story by Lara Pickford-Gordon
Some may say he was a bit of a “troublemaker” or a little “cantankerous” from time to time; others would say he “pushed the envelope in many ways”.
For many however, the late Fr Hugh Joyeau was a friend who was “joy by grace and by nature”, Archbishop Jason Gordon said at Fr Joyeau’s funeral Mass last Wednesday at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain.
“Your presence here today in church testifies to the values that Hugh held and testifies to the man he was and the man he became through Christ Jesus our Lord who set him free and transformed him into this priest of God that we have come to know and come to love,” he said.
Fr Joyeau had been ailing for several years and died June 28 at 69 years. He celebrated 30 years of being a priest November 2017 at Fatima RC.
There was standing room only at the Cathedral when the 9 a.m. Mass began. In attendance were Bishops Gerard County of Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Clyde Harvey of St George’s-in-Grenada and Emeritus Malcolm Galt, as well as members of clergy.
Archbishop Gordon was sure those in the congregation had their own wonderful stories of Fr Joyeau which they could not forget. “If you met him, you know this was different and they broke the mould sometime after he was born because you can’t have two Hugh Joyeaus walking around the world at any point in time,” he said evoking chuckles from the congregation. There were tears also for the loss of the much-loved priest and friend.
Alluding to the first reading, Ephesians 2:19–20, Archbishop Gordon said Fr Joyeau was a member of the royal household and as such had free access to the sacred mysteries where Christ is to be encountered.
One of the greatest characteristics of the late priest, he continued, was his capacity to love and be brother to many. Fr Joyeau was a brother and friend. Archbishop Gordon said, “He knew how to be close with people and in that Hugh has taught us so much…Hugh was a witness of what St Paul says ‘you are a member of God’s royal household’.”
As a priest, Fr Joyeau offered his life and demonstrated the sacrifice of the priesthood. After surgeries in 2002–2003 did not go well and a doctor told him he would not walk again, he put his faith in God. Fr Joyeau allowed himself to be transformed from the inside out through suffering.
Archbishop Gordon said Fr Joyeau’s last 17 years of priesthood were spent doing short two to three year stints in parishes. Most of his time though was spent in a room at St Peter’s, Mt St Benedict but he continued serving.
He said Fr Joyeau was “all priest” as compared to many active priests including the Archbishop himself. He was “an incredible confessor, an incredible guide, a person who accompanied many people”. As one who experienced the mercy of God, Fr Joyeau was able to share this with those who came to him for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
There was laughter as he commented that only Christ could configure someone as “cantankerous”, “beautiful” and “troublesome” into the man they knew and loved—a priest who gave himself tirelessly for the people, Christ and the Kingdom of God.
The final commendation was done by Msgr Kenneth Spence and the coffin was escorted from the church by Msgrs Esau Joseph and Spence, and Frs Steve Ransome, Steve Duncan, David Khan, Alan Hall and Garfield Rochard.
Members of the congregation were clapping and singing ‘Joy’ led by the St Anthony’s choir of Pt Fortin which provided musical accompaniment for the liturgy.
Fr Joyeau leaves to mourn his siblings Steve, Kelvin, Daphne, Merle, Judy, Margaret, and Carver.