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An emotional Bahamian farewell for Bishop-elect

The pews of St Francis Xavier Cathedral, Nassau were filled on Monday, June 24, for a Mass of Thanksgiving, with hundreds gathered from around the Archdiocese of Nassau to bid a fond farewell to Bishop-elect Kendrick Forbes, as he prepares to leave to assume his new responsibilities in Dominica. On July 25, Bishop-elect Forbes will be ordained and installed as the Bishop and Ordinary of the Diocese of Roseau.

Archbishop Patrick Pinder of Nassau was the main celebrant at the farewell. In a heartfelt and emotional homily, Archbishop Pinder assured Bishop-elect Forbes, “of full, complete, heartfelt, and sincere support” as he prepares to respond to the call and the mission which the Church summons him to. Archbishop also noted that, “Bishop-elect Forbes is entering a new phase of his life and his ministry and our support and our prayers for him are firm and unwavering. It is our prayer that he be granted every grace and virtue needed to be a good Bishop and that he be granted those graces and virtues in abundance.”

Archbishop Pinder commented he thought it was “good and wise” to provide the occasion for all the faithful, clergy and laity, to gather in faith to express their gratitude, support and love for Bishop-elect Forbes. “I might add that given his personality, he resisted having such a celebration.  It took some convincing to get him to agree. But he did and we are all pleased,” the Archbishop said.

He shared that as he tries to process all that has happened since the announcement on May 2, the prevailing sentiment in his heart is increasingly gratitude.

Archbishop Pinder explained when he entered the seminary in 1971, the years between the late 1960’s and the early 1970’s, were a time when the morale of the local Catholic community was at its “absolute lowest. There were so many defections from the priesthood, so many frustrated hopes, so much disappointment,” he said.

He then thanked God for those who stayed the course and kept the faith and kept the flame of hope alive.

Archbishop Pinder spoke of Bishop Paul Leonard Hagarty OSB, Msgr Preston Moss and others like Fr Pat Holmes, Fr Elias Achatz OSB and a stalwart like Fr George Wolf OSB and the religious community of St Martin’s.

“Still, in order to do what needed to be done, we required help in the form of leadership from outside. This leadership came in the person of Lawrence Aloysius Burke SJ from Jamaica,” Archbishop Pinder said. He mentioned he had the privilege of living and working with Archbishop Burke and delivering the homily at his funeral.


Jamaican archbishop was good for us

After serving the Archdiocese of Nassau for 23 years, Archbishop Burke was called back to his native Jamaica, to serve there until retirement. At his Funeral Mass in 2010, Archbishop Pinder pointed out that at the very beginning of his 23-year term as Archbishop of Nassau, there were pockets of displeasure at Archbishop Burke’s coming. There were those who had different ideas and strong feelings about it.

“The truth is, Archbishop Burke was good for us. His leadership was a grace and a blessing for us. In many ways he left us much better off than when he met us. For that we can only be grateful and thankful. His presence and his leadership offered us a lesson in the benefits of regional cooperation,” the Archbishop said.

To this end, he asserted that at their moment of need, they were granted the gift of leadership from outside.  “It is now a moment of profound grace and a reason for extreme gratitude that we can offer Episcopal leadership to others elsewhere who are in need as we once were,” he said.

The Archbishop spoke of a “peculiar coincidence” he noticed in recent events. The announcement of Fr Forbes as the next Bishop of Roseau occurred on May 2. This, the Archbishop highlighted, was exactly 20 years to the day that Archbishop Burke, after serving in The Bahamas, returned to be Archbishop of  Kingston. “Is there a message in this for us?  I cannot say for sure. One thing I am sure of is that the future is in God’s hands. God’s will be done,” he said.

Archbishop Pinder also reminded the congregation not to overlook a very important fact. He said although they are offering a member of the clergy to another diocese, they are still “very much in need of vocations to the priesthood here in our Archdiocese”.

“Vocations come from good families. The reality is the vast majority of our families are led by mothers.  The mother is the hand which rocks the cradle and rules the world. So, I urge mothers especially to pray for and to promote vocations in your families,” Archbishop Pinder said.