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Cardinal Felix: A man of unity

Archbishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau has said His Eminence Cardinal Kelvin Felix will be remembered as a man of unity, leading the Church’s indispensable mission to ecumenism in the Antilles region. Archbishop Malzaire presented the homily during the Memorial Mass for the late Cardinal Felix which took place at the Cathedral Chapel Wednesday, June 19.

Cardinal Felix passed away in Castries May 30 at the age of 91.

“We are gathered here to bid farewell to our beloved son of the Dominican soil who has done just that, he has laid down his life for his Caribbean people and he did so with such distinction that the Holy Father Francis saw it fit to elevate him with the honour of the Cardinalate,” the Archbishop said, according to a Dominica News Online report.

“We cannot not appreciate the sacrifice that this man of God has made for the sake of God’s people in the Diocese of Roseau, in the Caribbean, and in the world,” the Archbishop said.

He said Cardinal Felix will be remembered as a man of unity, leading the church’s indispensable mission to ecumenism in the Antilles region, a mission which presently “is crying out for much-needed attention.”

Archbishop Malzaire added, “He will be remembered as a humble servant of God who, despite his ranks, wanted to be addressed simply as Father Felix.”

His message came from the book of Job which introduces a new perspective of the divine-human relationship.

“It is a story of the complete loss and deprivation in the life of the man of faith, seemingly, a sort of punishment and ending eventually in the overwhelming divine response of complete restoration of what was lost,” Archbishop Malzaire said.

He continued, “Never having turned away from God despite the counsels of his friends, Job in the end enjoyed the benefit of God’s total clemency.”

Inspired by the spirituality that surrounds the story of Job, Archbishop Malzaire situated the life and commitment of Cardinal Felix within the context of the world.

“A world of growing opposition to religious sentiments and spiritual values,” he stated. “Even in his early years of his priesthood, when the religious fervour in the region was much stronger, there were challenges.”

The Archbishop recalled the stories he told of being the only black man on the clerical block and the cultural battles he had to endure, “but very quietly, for the sake of a people, for the sake of a church that he loved.”

Furthermore, he said the late Cardinal Felix had truly embraced the cross of the Lord Jesus.

“Of his 68-years of ordained ministry, Cardinal Felix wore the pectoral cross for 43 years.  Twenty-seven in active ministry and 16 as emeritus,” Archbishop Malzaire said. “A very rough calculation of the number of Masses he would have offered on behalf of God’s people revealed that within the 68 years of ordained ministry, he would have celebrated approximately 7027 Masses on Sundays alone…”

He continued, “Knowing him he would have celebrated Mass every day of the week which would give him a total of 21,216 Masses…this adds to a total of 28,243 since ordination.”

Meanwhile, Archbishop Malzaire pointed out that Cardinal Felix’s tomb will be a permanent fixture in the Cathedral yard to remind the entire faithful of the Diocese of Roseau and other visitors that, “there stands among us one who has risen to the highest ecclesiastical office simply by his quest to imitate the one who called him from his mother’s womb 91 years ago.”

The Government of Dominica accorded an official funeral to the late Cardinal.

He was buried in Dominica according to his wishes.