Bishop-elect John Persaud said his final goodbye to brother priests, parishioners, and the Diocese of Georgetown where he served as priest, Vicar General and administrator of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Brickdam.
He celebrated his last Mass there on August 16. That Sunday marked ten weeks after being appointed by Pope Francis to head the Diocese of Mandeville, Jamaica.
Two days later, on Tuesday 18, he boarded a private aircraft at Ogle airport which took him to Jamaica, Catholic Standard reported.
As the Sunday Mass at the Cathedral drew to a close, and after the choir sang their farewell song ‘May the good Lord bless and keep you’, Bishop-elect Persaud shared with the congregation which he led for many years, the story of receiving a phone call from the papal representative to the Antilles, Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, and learning the news that Pope Francis had appointed him a bishop to Jamaica.
He said he asked for time to pray and reflect before giving an answer, but he knew his answer would be ‘yes’ because one cannot say ‘no’ to God. “We have no other choice but to say yes when God calls. That ‘yes’ means I must leave Guyana to take up a lifelong appointment. So, no one knows or can say anything about returning,” the Bishop-elect shared.
He acknowledged that the hardest thing a priest has to do is say goodbye to a parish community he has learned to love. “I will not forget you and I hope you will not forget me; I ask that you keep me in your prayers.”
He said he had been blessed by a wonderful family that encouraged, supported, loved, and corrected him along the way. The bishop-elect also expressed sorrow for any wrongs he may have done in the exercise of his ministry saying his intention has never been to hurt people.
“To you gathered here in this Cathedral and others throughout Guyana, if there is any way that I have hurt any of you I am truly sorry. My intention was never to hurt. As I often say to people and to young priests our business is not about hurting and I have always sought to lift people up and care, but I know like all of us sometimes we can hurt without intending it so I do ask forgiveness,” he said, according to the diocesan weekly.
Due to COVID-19 precautions a parish farewell function was not possible.
Bishop-elect John Persaud told the congregation his ordination on September 19 at noon will be livestreamed.
“Our loss is Jamaica’s gain. We are sad to see him go but God has greater things in store for him and for that we are very happy,” said one longtime parishioner, echoing the feelings of many.
His brother priests from Georgetown, the East Bank and the East Coast areas gathered at Bishop Francis Alleyne’s residence in Brickdam on August 13 for a farewell lunch.
It was also an opportunity to congratulate and encourage Bishop-elect Persaud and thank him for his 35 years of priestly service to the diocese. His brother priests also assured him of their prayerful support and expressed their readiness to help in whatever way they can.
For the bishop-elect, it was a chance to say goodbye and recognise all those who touched his life. He said he was especially grateful to Msgr Terrence Montrose and the late Bishop Benedict Singh who nurtured him as a young priest. Mixed with their sadness, however, was joy at what was ahead for him.