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October 24, 2022
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October 25, 2022

Simple, humble, prayerful – Bishop Galt remembered

Many descriptions were given of the way Bishop Emeritus Malcolm Galt CSSp lived his priesthood.

‘Salty’ as he was nicknamed, strove always to be a faithful imitator of Jesus, a man of prayer. He was a great confessor, missionary, a simple man, a man of humility.

Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Harris CSSp crystallised Bishop Galt’s qualities: “Malcolm understood what God asked of His disciples at the Ascension, when He told the disciples ‘Go out and make believers of all nations and baptise them in the name of the Father, of the Son, of the Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all that the Father commands.’ He did this by his preaching and the example of his life.”

Archbishop Harris was the homilist at Bishop Galt’s Funeral Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain today Monday, October 24. Galt died October 16 at the age of 93.

The chief celebrant was Archbishop Jason Gordon. There was a large gathering for the funeral with several of the late bishop’s family members present as were clergy, religious and the faithful.

Also in attendance were Cardinal Kelvin Felix, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Santiago De Wit Guzmán, bishops of the region: President of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC), Archbishop Gabriel Malzaire of Castries, Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB of Georgetown, Bishop Neil Scantlebury of Bridgetown, and Bishop Gerard County CSSp of Kingstown. There was representation by the First Peoples of Arima.

“Malcolm was a great confessor. He understood human nature and he gave people a sense yes, God forgives their sins, but he also encouraged them to find the strength in themselves to avoid sin in the future,” Archbishop Harris said.

He outlined some of Bishop Galt’s history from joining the Congregation of the Holy Spirit to becoming a missionary in Africa, to being Bishop of Bridgetown and Superior of the Spiritans.

Archbishop Harris said, “From priests who were with him in Africa, they tell you that Malcolm was well loved, as well loved as he was loved in all the parishes he attended here in Trinidad and Tobago.” He added that parishioners were sorry when then Fr Galt was moved to another parish. He was a good Superior who “looked out for everyone” and took decisions which were not liked but done for the good of others.

There were anecdotes showing Bishop Galt’s wit, like when he was speaking to young people in Bridgetown during the AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) epidemic in Barbados. He encouraged the youth about living a chaste life of celibacy to avoid the virus. A young man responded that sex was like water, needed for life. Bishop Galt replied, “I must be dehydrated.”

“That was Bishop Galt, always finding the truth but also giving it in a way that did not offend the people but doing it in a way people understood just what he was saying,” Archbishop Harris commented. After Barbados he went to Bequia, St Vincent and the Grenadines for about eight years.

Archbishop Harris told of a man who during his retirement period was always willing to say ‘yes’ to service, “always thinking of what he could do to help”. He did Masses in parishes without priests and presided at Confirmations. In concluding, he said, “We say goodbye to him now, but we live in the hope that one day he will meet us when the Lord calls us to Himself.”

In an interview with Catholic News, two of Bishop Galt’s great-nephews described him. Richard Freeman called him a “living saint” whose life was selfless, dedicated to his community and priesthood, “to the end”.

Stuart Franco said, “He loved sport, he loved children.” He recalled at family events, such as a 90th birthday celebration for his great-uncle, when anyone was looking for Bishop Galt, he was in the garden “playing with the kids”. Franco said he loved telling stories and sharing. He was also stern “when it came to faith and following what is right…He was convicted in his belief.”

At the end of the liturgy messages were read by Archbishop De Wit Guzmán from the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State from Pope Francis; Fr Anton Dick CSSp read a message from the Holy Ghost Fathers Superior General Fr Alain Mayama CSSp.

Archbishop Malzaire brought a message from the AEC and spoke of his experience as a young seminarian assigned to Rio Claro with then Fr Galt for Holy Week.

Bishop Galt is remembered for riding a donkey for Palm Sunday during his time as a parish priest

Provincial Superior Fr Ron Mendes CSSp, performed the final commendation.

The body was interred at the Lapeyrouse Cemetery.

Tributes and condolences

Message from Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State on behalf of Pope Francis: “His holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the death of Bishop Emeritus Malcom Galt, and he offers heartfelt condolences to you and to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the diocese. In commending the late Bishop’s soul to the love and mercy of Christ the Good Shepherd, he joins in your prayer of thanksgiving for his example of service and spiritual closeness to the people of God which marked his years of devoted episcopal ministry to the Church in Bridgetown and, in retirement, to the Archdiocese of Port of Spain.”

Cardinal Luis Antonio G Tagle, Pro-Prefect for the Section of Evangelization of Dicastery for Evangelization: “With great sadness we learned of the death of His Excellency Malcolm Patrick Galt, CSSp., Bishop Emeritus of Bridgetown, in Barbados, and we express to you the Diocesan Community and members of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, our heartfelt condolences while assuring you of our prayers. The Dicastery for Evangelization mindful of his missionary zeal, entrusts the eternal repose of his soul to the divine mercy of the Heavenly Father.”

Fr Alain Mayama CSSp, Superior General, Congregation of the Holy Spirit: “….He was a remarkable confrere who gave himself selflessly in serving the Church and the Spiritan Community in a variety of capacities. As a professed Spiritan for more than 75 years he was known for his humility and cheerfulness. He worked in the Spiritan mission in Nigeria during very difficult times in the 1960’s and accepted the call to serve the local Spiritan community in Trinidad and Provincial Superior and Bursar more than once. A parish priest at heart, he responded to the nomination of Pope John Paul II to serve as the Bishop of the Diocese of Bridgetown in Barbados for more than ten years. His dedication and commitment to serving the People of God with gentleness and compassion in whatever role he was called will be his legacy.”

– By Lara Pickford-Gordon