Bishop Emeritus Malcolm Galt CSSp died on Sunday, October 16. As news of his death spread, Fr Steve Duncan, Moderator, Santa Rosa/Malabar Cluster sent the following tribute.
On September 1, 2016, I succeeded Bishop Emeritus Malcolm Galt, CSSp, at the Parish of Santa Rosa, Arima. At that time, he was acting in the capacity of Parish Priest for approximately four months prior to my taking possession of the parish, at the introduction of the cluster arrangement to the Archdiocese.
At our “handing over” meeting at the parish office, not only did he apprise me of his second and brief stint but also, graciously provided me with a copy of A Short History of Santa Rosa De Arima 1749 -1999. No longer available on the market, he was still able to secure a copy for me.
In a letter dated, August 13, 2016 and addressed to me, the Bishop Emeritus of Bridgetown wrote, “I strongly suggest that you read, even study and keep for reference, this history of the Parish.” I have taken his advice.
Written by deceased parishioner, Jean Patricia Elie, the text has proved valuable to me in my transition to and ministry in the cluster of Santa Rosa/Malabar.
That initial August 2016 encounter with Bishop Emeritus Galt impressed me immensely and opened the door for continuous consultation. I felt privileged to be counselled and guided by he who from 1984 to 1990, served as parish priest of Santa Rosa and who as Bishop Emeritus — due to the Archdiocesan pastoral circumstances in and around early 2016 —accepted to return to Santa Rosa and provide pastoral care to the people of God in the Royal Chartered Borough of Arima.
Whenever the need arose, he would offer Masses for the community at the Church of the Holy Spirit, Malabar and was a special preacher at the joint feast day celebration at the Church of the Annunciation, where the church building is jointly owned and shared by the Anglican and Catholic community at Santa Rosa Heights.
On his return for whatever reason (including administering the Sacrament of Confirmation), a Santa Rosa/Malabar cluster welcome was his to receive. The parishioners loved him, and he loved them in return.
His humble pastoral zeal is remembered by many parishioners who delight in his sense of humour, note his hospitality and genuine concern for them. He treasured the memories of his stay in Santa Rosa. He would enquire about the parish office staff and generally, would ask, “How is Arima treating you?”. History records the then Fr Malcolm Galt as supervising major restoration work on the historic Church of Santa Rosa. This he began in early 1986, concluding with having the altar reconsecrated on Monday, April 27, 1987.
The memorial stone on the present presbytery at Santa Rosa, carries the date, AD 1989, a testimony that the presbytery was built during his tenure, replacing the original wooden dwelling which provided accommodation for generations of pastors who ministered at the parish for over 200 years.
Bishop Emeritus Galt loved Arima and its people.
He had an appreciation and healthy respect for their socio-cultural and religious history and took a keen interest in how the Catholic community in Arima collaborated with the Santa Rosa First Peoples Community.
In the letter of August 13, 2016, he counselled, “Whether one likes it or not, the fact is that the history of the Catholic Church in Arima and that of the Santa Rosa Carib [First Peoples] Community are inseparable. Their relationship is unique in our Nation. May it always prosper for the good of the Church and the Carib [First Peoples] Community.”
Each year, he would contact me, enquiring either about the preparations for or the outcome of the Santa Rosa patronal feast. This year was no different.
I am indeed grateful for the inspiration and pastoral legacy of Bishop Emeritus Malcolm Galt to the Catholic community in Arima. With the present cluster clergy team (Frs Kizito Ameloko, Andrew Emenike and Rev Joachim Hernandez) and parishioners of Santa Rosa/Malabar, I extend sincerest condolences to the family of Bishop Emeritus Galt and the Spiritan community. As a cluster community, we pray also, for the peaceful repose of his soul.
May Santa Rosa, Patroness of Arima, pray for him.