Joys and pains of fatherhood
June 15, 2021
12th Sunday in OT (B)
June 15, 2021

AEC Pres to new bishop: The people expect you to be ‘real, truthful, transparent’


In extending congratulations to Bishop Neil Scantlebury on his elevation to the episcopacy, the President of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) asserted that the confidence that Pope Francis and the Bishops of the Antilles have placed in the Bishop says a great deal about their trust in his ability to make a vital contribution to the local, regional, and universal Church.

Speaking during Bishop Scantlebury’s ordination Friday, June 11 at the St Patrick’s RC Cathedral in Bridgetown, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau said that being the first local bishop of the Diocese of Bridgetown is no small achievement.

“Attaining the fullness of the priesthood among your own people is indeed a great honour and huge responsibility,” Bishop Malzaire told Bishop Scantlebury, the fourth bishop for the diocese.

“It is an honour because these very people whom you are called to serve, saw you in short pants. It means that they know you; notwithstanding the fact that you were away from them for some time in the sanctuary of the Virgin Islands and elsewhere. Your return home at the request of the Holy Father, is akin to being told, even jokingly, you can run but you cannot hide.”

Bishop Malzaire observed that the knowledge of Bishop Scantlebury by his own people is evidence to the fact that he is not a ready-made bishop to them.

“Instead, you evolved as their Bishop. As a consequence, they will expect you to be real with them, meaning truthful, transparent and kind.”

This, the AEC President stressed is a huge responsibility as the Bishop’s flock will be expecting him to lead them to sanctity.

“Not that they are completely unable to assist in finding it themselves, as we are all gifted by God through our Baptism, with the potential to be. However, as you know, the Church of Christ is structured in such a way that the role of each of its members is essential for the growth and development of the entire body. Yours, however, happens to be a very significant part of that charge,” Bishop Malzaire explained.

He reminded the newly ordained bishop that as chief shepherd of the flock of Bridgetown, his role is all embracing; it is religious and spiritual, first and foremost, but it is also social.

“The latter is true, from the standpoint that yours is a call to work with all levels of the society to assist in the building of God’s Kingdom, a mission in which we all share.”

Bishop Malzaire spoke of the most current pastoral and administrative disposition to which the Holy Father invites all the bishops of the world to adopt in these modern times—synodality.

This is the disposition to include all the faithful in the decision-making processes and operations of the Church on the levels of diocese, parishes, organisations, and groups.

He admitted, while it is something relatively new for the bishops, “I think you are well positioned as the newest kid on block to start anew to lead a Church of the twenty-first century.”


Building on a foundation


Also giving brief remarks was Archbishop Jason Gordon of Port of Spain, who served as Bishop of Bridgetown from 2011 to 2017. He was appointed to serve as Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese until March 1, 2021, when then Bishop-elect Scantlebury was appointed to that position.

The Archbishop thanked all the “wonderful people” who participated in the building of the Bridgetown Diocese over the years. He specifically mentioned Jamaica-born Bishop Emeritus Anthony Dickson, the Diocese’s first bishop for laying the foundation, Trinidad-born Bishop Emeritus Malcolm Galt CSSp for building upon that foundation and fellow Trinidadian, Archbishop Robert Rivas OP of Castries, St Lucia for being “caretaker” for six years.

“And all you wonderful people who have collaborated in the building of the Church in the Synod, in our ministry to the poor, in our walking as a Church together. Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Archbishop Gordon said.