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A servant of heroic joy

By Fr Christopher Lumsden, Postulator of the Cause of Servant of God Archbishop Gordon Anthony Pantin (in collaboration with the Archdiocesan Archives)

On this 21st anniversary of the death of our beloved eighth Archbishop of Port of Spain, Gordon Anthony Pantin, you are invited to honour his memory, as we reflect upon his life, in relation to the Cause for his beatification and canonisation.

Of course, by now everyone, or almost everyone in the Archdiocese has embarked upon the journey of rediscovering the saints. But what does it mean to rediscover the saints? What does it mean to be a saint in the Catholic Church?

A Catholic Dictionary defines a saint as “one whose holiness of life and heroic virtue have been confirmed and recognized by the Church’s official process of beatification and canonization.”

In the Cause of Archbishop Pantin, the preliminary steps have been completed. Under the leadership of Archbishop Charles Jason Gordon, we are currently in the Diocesan Phase where, as the Postulator, the inquiry into the life, heroic virtues, and reputation of holiness and of intercessory power of the Servant of God is determined, according to the norms of Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

This informative process involves gathering the testimonies of witnesses and examining his published and unpublished writings for clear evidence that he lived a life of faith, hope and charity (theological virtues), prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude (cardinal virtues) and obedience, poverty, chastity, and humility (evangelical counsels) to a heroic degree.

We could say that we are in the process of rediscovering what Archbishop Pantin discovered in the Mother of Saints, the Church. First, as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2013) “all Christians in any state or walk in life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity. All are called to holiness: ‘Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect”; and secondly, (#828) “by canonizing some of the faithful, i.e., by solemnly proclaiming that they practiced heroic virtue and lived in fidelity to God’s grace, the Church recognizes the power of the Spirit of holiness within her and sustains the hope of believers by proposing the Saints to them as models and intercessors.”

To rediscover the saints is an intentional decision to rediscover our own vocation to holiness, to be a saint. It is to work anew on remodelling our spiritual lives, submerged in the divine, so our actions are in accord with God’s will, and we attract souls to the service and love of God. A good example of this can be found in the life of Servant of God, Archbishop Pantin.

What was it about the priestly life of the 38-year-old Anthony Pantin that allowed Pope Paul VI, in consultation with the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Christian Faith and the Apostolic Nuncio of Haiti, to appoint him for the government of the Metropolitan Church of Port of Spain?

He wrote in his official appointment letter dated  November 19, 1967: “…You Our Beloved Son, GORDON ANTHONY PANTIN …can be safely entrusted with the government of this See for, apart from the fact that You are outstanding in the other qualities required for this office, You ardently devote all Your energies to the gaining of souls for God…”

It seems to be a recognition of the signs of Christ at work in the soul of this priest, the signs of a heart anchored and devoted to God. His was a heart where God, and the things of God, occupied first place and reigned to the degree that his entire being was transformed to, giving way to actions, that were in accord with God’s will.

This was the testimony of a pope, with the authority of the Universal Church.

What about you? In your memories of his life, or in the reflection of the life of the saints, are you moved to gain souls for God even to the (heroic) degree of not counting the cost?

Are you inspired to anchor your life in Christ?  When you reflect upon the life of this Servant of God, what qualities stand out for you, that you would like to emulate, or you find encourages you to pursue a closer relationship with the Lord? What testimony do you have of his reputation of holiness?

Share it with us at

Already inflamed with the zeal and love of God, he cultivated his interior spirit with devotion to the one who is the model and exemplar of how to live in God—Mary our Mother.

He proceeded also to the ever silent St Joseph, a true leader of the spiritual life, already aware of both the teaching of the Church as well as the saints who directed themselves to his patronage.

This relationship with the Saint was important enough to begin his ministry as Archbishop on 19 March 1968, the Solemnity of St Joseph, and was the reason he considered St Joseph to be his religious patron.

He took for his motto the words and patronage of the apostle St Paul, “Omnia Omnibus—all things to all men” (1 Cor 9:22) and as his favourite quote “It is all God’s work” (2 Cor 2:18).

His Baptism name was Anthony and he shared that his heavenly patron was St Anthony of Padua. His Confirmation name was John and perhaps we can say that since he reclined so close to the heart of Christ, it refers to Saint John the Evangelist.

In appreciation of his sublime calling as Archbishop, he habitually invoked the saints, and indeed, the Queen of all saints, as a means to resolutely labour intensely in the vineyard, so that a fruitful shepherding of souls could spring up in the exterior vineyard of the Lord.

Thus, we can be certain he would have fully participated and supported  Pope Francis —and all bishops—in this year of St Joseph, agreeing with the statements in the apostolic letter that: “…every member of the faithful, following his example, may strengthen their life of faith daily in the complete fulfilment of God’s will…The saints help all the faithful to strive for the holiness and the perfection of their particular state of life…Their lives are concrete proof that it is possible to put the Gospel into practice.”

Our merciful God does not call the select few to be saints but rather all the faithful and the good news is that we have a multitude of friends in Heaven we can call on for help in the journey of life.

He adds, “before the example of so many holy men and women, Saint Augustine asked himself: ‘What they could do, can you not also do?’” Archbishop Pantin said ‘yes’!

His infectious enthusiasm for all God’s work made him disposed to be all things to all men —A Servant of Heroic Joy! Let us ask his intercession and help to do the same.

Annually, we celebrate the anniversary of his death with an Archdiocesan Mass at the Cathedral. On Friday, March 12, 5 p.m. at the Cathedral. We may not be able to participate fully due to COVID-19 restrictions on numbers, but we can do so virtually.

Remember to make the archdiocesan prayer part of your daily devotional practice so that we can move closer towards the official declaration of the Church that our own beloved Archbishop Pantin now enjoys in Heaven the company of the God whom he faithfully and heroically followed during his life on earth.




1929 – 2000

O God who by the grace of your Holy Spirit tempered the soul of Gordon Anthony Pantin with fortitude and humility and raised him to be priest and Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain so that he may be bearer of your life-giving Word to the people of Trinidad and Tobago, grant us grace to be strong in faith, humbly confident in your aid and tireless in doing good.  Bestow upon us, we humbly pray, through the intercession of this beloved servant of yours, Gordon Anthony Pantin, the special grace which we seek from your sovereign goodness in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord.  Amen.