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Episcopal ordination in Jamaica set for September


Fr John Persaud, Bishop-elect of Mandeville, Jamaica will now be ordained as the fourth Bishop of the diocese Saturday, September 19, 11 a.m. Jamaica time (noon in Guyana) at the Cathedral of the St Paul, Mandeville.

In an official statement from the Bishop-elect, the date of his episcopal ordination was originally set for August 15—the Solemnity of the Assumption of our Blessed Mother. However, with Guyana’s borders still closed because of the coronavirus, “we felt that it would be best to shift the date”.

“I wanted September 14, 2020—Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross—but after consulting the Committee in Jamaica, it was felt that Saturday would work best for the local community so we decided to set the Ordination on Saturday, September 19, 2020….”

Catholic Standard reported that the ordaining Bishop will be the Pope’s representative in the Caribbean, Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu; Archbishop Kenneth Richards of Kingston and Apostolic Administrator of Mandeville Archbishop Emeritus Charles Dufour will assist.

Fr Persaud’s appointment by Pope Francis was announced on Friday, June 19 in Rome (Guyana 6 a.m.).

The diocesan weekly said that due to the introduction of restrictions to help curb the spread of COVID-19, limited numbers will be allowed into the Cathedral although a large tent and television screen are expected to be erected outside for those who cannot enter the Cathedral. The entire event will be livestreamed.

“On the evening before the ordination, Evening Prayer of the Church will be held in Mandeville Cathedral during which the Bishop-elect will take the Oath of Fidelity and make the Profession of Faith. The crozier and mitre, that is the hat and staff to be used by the new bishop will also be blessed during this ceremony,” the report said. Bishops, priests and religious of the diocese will be among those present.

The Profession of Faith and the Oath of Fidelity is required of anyone “assuming an office to be exercised in the name of the Church”. That includes vicars general, judicial vicars, pastors, rectors of seminaries and Catholic universities, deacons, professors of theology and morals in universities, and religious superiors.

The oath was instituted by Pope John Paul II in his apostolic letter motu proprio Ad Tuendam Fidem (In Order to Safeguard the Faith), issued in 1998.

Bishop-elect John Persaud will be the second Guyanese to be made a bishop. The first was the late Bishop Benedict Singh.

According to Standard, the crozier which the new bishop will be using will be the same one which Bishop Singh had made and used when he became Bishop 35 years ago. “It is made of six species of Guyanese wood and had to be revitalised by a Guyanese craftsman.”

At the end of a recent morning Mass at the St Angela Merici RC Church, La Parfait Harmonie, the Bishop-elect said that bishops don’t fall from the skies but come from families and communities. He thanked all who had contributed to his formation so that he was able to be chosen by Pope Francis to be a bishop.

“So many contributed in loving, supporting, forming, correcting and encouraging. Please continue,” he said.