Former Bishops

RICHARD PATRICK SMITH
First Archbishop of Port of Spain
1850 to 1852
A great builder of schools and churches, Archbishop Smith completed the Cathedral, which was consecrated in 1851.

VINCENT SPACCAPIETRA
Second Archbishop of Port of Spain
1855 to 1859
Archbishop Spaccapietra was deeply spiritual and devoted to works of charity. The Amantes Society, the St Vincent de Paul Society and the SpaccapietraAsylum all reflect his love for the poor and suffering.

FERDINAND ENGLISH
Third Archbishop of Port of Spain
1861 to 1862
Archbishop English was particularly interested in propagating the faith through the printed word. He founded The Star of the West newspaper and sought to draw souls together in the fold of the One shepherd.

LOUIS JOACHIM GONIN
Fourth Archbishop of Port of Spain
1869 to 1889
Even though his wish was not to be Archbishop, he served faithfully in this position for 20 years. He was humble and especially kind to his priests and the poor. Archbishop Gonin was a lawyer by profession.

PATRICK VINCENT FLOOD
Fifth Archbishop of Port of Spain

1889 to 1907

Archbishop Flood designed the impressive tower at Archbishop’s House to symbolise the four-square authority of the Catholic Church: One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic. He was a great preacher. Although a disciplinarian, he was impartial.

JOHN PIUS DOWLING
Sixth Archbishop of Port of Spain
1909 to 1940
Appointed Apostolic Administrator from 1907 to 1909, Archbishop Dowling was noted for his piety and humility. He did not favour the spectacular and he endured great personal sacrifice and manifold hardships. His coadjutor Bishop Finbar Ryan, considered him to be “a saint”.

PATRICK FINBAR RYAN
Seventh Archbishop of Port of Spain
1940 to 1966
Archbishop Ryan was called vigorous, tireless, saintly, witty, scholarly, stimulating, unselfish austere, kind, dutiful, fatherly. His supreme quality, however, was his fighting spirit. He was an indomitable battler, with word and spirit, for the causes of the Catholic Church and against its foes whom he classed with the “gates of hell”.
He fought against the state control of schools-a fight he took to the halls of colonial Governors in the Eastern Caribbean and to the Colonial Office in London. He won. Among his achievements was the establishment of the Seminary of St John Vianney and the African Martyrs, in 1943. He had an intense devotion to the Blessed VIrgin Mary and established, also in 1943, the National Shrine of Our Lady, in honour of Our Lady of Fatima, in the hills of Laventille overlooking Port of Spain.

WILLIAM FITZGERALD
Auxiliary Bishop
1966 to 1968
Monsignor William Fitzgerald served in many parishes between 1932 and 1958 when he was ordained as Auxiliary Bishop of Port of Spain. He was appointed by Rome as Apostolic Administrator of the See of Port of Spain, after the resignation of Archbishop Finbar Ryan in 1966. He returned to Ireland and died in Cork on October 31, 1971 at the age of 65 years.

GORDON ANTHONY PANTIN
Eighth Archbishop of Port of Spain
1968 to 2000
Gordon Anthony Pantin was ordained Archbishop in 1968. The first local Bishop, his 32-year tenure is historical for many reasons. He presided over the Archdiocese during a volatile period of revolution both cultural as well as theological. He was described as a traditional Catholic and was well respected for his integrity, simplicity and humility. His spirituality revolved around the Divine Office, the Mass and the Rosary. He fought against abortion, defended the poor and those on death row and encouraged inter-religious dialogue and Christian unity. Archbishop Pantin died on March 12, 2000 and was succeeded by Archbishop Edward Gilbert in 2001.

JOHN MENDES
Auxiliary Bishop
2000 to 2001
(born 25 November 1926, died 24 June 2005)
Bishop Mendes, “a good man, a zealous priest, a dedicated bishop”, was ordained priest in 1953, among the first graduates of the Archdiocesan Seminary. He was a much loved parish priest, archdiocesan exorcist, former Vicar General and rector of the Seminary. He persevered in prayer and witness throughout the times of serious illness.

EDWARD J GILBERT, CSSR
Ninth Archbishop of Port of Spain
2001 to 2011

Archbishop Edward J Gilbert was born December 26,1936, in Brooklyn, New York. He began his religious profession in 1959 and was ordained a priest on June 21, 1964. He attended Mount St Alphonsus Seminary in Esopus, New York, and St Mary’s College Seminary in North East Pennsylvania.

ORDINATION

After his priestly ordination, Archbishop Gilbert pursued graduate studies at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. He is a Doctor of Canon Law and holds the Master’s Degrees of Religious Education and Divinity. He was professor of Canon Law for 14 years, academic dean for six years and seminary rector for six years.

ADMINISTRATIVE POSITIONS

As a member of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists), the Archbishop has held various administrative positions. He served in the Redemptorists’ General Chapter as Chairman of the International Commission to Evaluate the Redemptorists’ School of Moral Theology in Rome, between 1979 and 1985, and as Provincial of the Baltimore Province, which includes the vice-Province units of Brazil, Paraguay, Puerto Rico/ US Virgin Islands and southern United States, for nine years.

Outside of the Congregation, Archbishop Gilbert served as retreat master for diocesan priests, religious and secular institutes, from 1980 to 1993, and was a member of the Papal Visitation Team for seminaries in the United States, in 1983. He has contributed to various publications, including the The New Catholic Encyclopaedia, The Ligourian, The Jurist and The Code of Canon Law: A Text and Commentary.

DOMINICA APPOINTMENT

In 1994, Archbishop Gilbert was ordained Bishop of Roseau in Dominica. He is Chairman of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) on Catechetics. He worked in Roseau for six and a half years before being installed as the ninth Archbishop of Port of Spain, on May 5, 2001.

COAT OF ARMS

The left side of the viewer: These arms are composed of a blue field on which are displayed three silver (white) peaks to recall that Christopher Columbus named the island for “The Trinity” when he discovered it in 1498. Above the three peaks is an eightpoint star, emitting rays toward the base to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary in her title of the Immaculate Conception, titular of the Cathedral.

For his personal arms, seen in the sinister impalement (right side) ofthe shield, His Grace, Archbishop Gilbert, has retained the arms that he adopted at the time that he was selected to receive the fullness of Christ’s Most Holy Priesthood, as he became Bishop ofthe Diocese of Roseau, in the Commonwealth of Dominica.

These arms are composed of three sections. To the lower left is a silver (white) field on which is seen a simple, wooden (brown) abbot’s crosier to honour Saint Gilbert who was an abbot. This symbolism is placed beside a red field on which is placed a gold (yellow) carpenter’s square to honour the Archbishop’s baptismal patron, Saint Joseph the worker.

All of these symbols are placed below a blue Archbishop’s religious order, the Redemptorists, the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. This is composed of a cross that is placed on a lance and a pole with a sponge on the end. These are symbolic of the price that Christ paid for our redemption. These are placed between the abbreviations of the names of Joseph and Mary.

HIS MOTTO

For his motto, Archbishop Gilbert uses the phrase “THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH”. It is through the use of this phrase taken from the prophet Isaiah (Is. 12:2) that His Grace expresses his deep belief that for any of us to really accomplish anything ofmeaning, it must be done through, with and by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The device is completed with the external ornaments, which are a gold archiepiscopal processional cross (having two cross members) which is placed in the back of the shield and which extends above and below the shield, and a pontifical hat, called a gallero, with its ten tassels, in four rows, on either side of the shield, all in green. These are the heraldic insignia of a prelate of the rank of archbishop by instruction of The Holy See of March 31,1969.

JOSEPH EDWARD HARRIS, C.S.SP
Tenth Archbishop of Port of Spain
2011  to 2017

Archbishop Joseph Harris was born March 19, 1942. He joined the Holy Ghost Fathers (the Spiritans) in 1960 and was ordained a priest on July 14, 1968. He attended the Novitiate of the Holy Ghost Fathers in Lac-au-Saumon, Quebec and the Holy Ghost Missionary College in Arima, Trinidad and Tobago.

ORDINATION

After his priestly ordination, Archbishop Harris pursued graduate studies at the Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs. He holds a Doctorate in Church Administration from McCormick Theological Seminary and a Master’s Degree in Theology from the Catholic Theological Union, Chicago, Illinois. He is also licensed in Canon Law.

Archbishop Harris worked in Paraguay as a missionary for 13 years until 1982. He then went to USA to further his studies and got involved in the ministry of formation specifically for Spiritan students in Chicago. On his return to Trinidad in 1987, he assumed a similar role as Director of Formation for local Spiritan students.

ADMINISTRATIVE POSITIONS

In 1993 he was appointed Rector of the Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs. In 1997 he was elected Provincial Superior of the Spiritan Fathers. He was parish priest at St Anthony’s Petit Valley from 1999 – 2003. Up to the time of his ordination as Archbishop on September 14, 2011, he had been Parish Priest at St Ann’s (from 2007) , Judicial Vicar (from 2006), Vicar for Clergy (from 2009) and a lecturer at the Seminary (since 2000).

He was ordained Coadjutor Archbishop on September 14, 2011 and was installed as the 10th Archbishop of Port of Spain on December 08, 2011.

Archbishop Harris is fluent in Spanish and has developed a close relationship with the Spanish community in Trinidad. He has written several articles, including Theological Education and Ministerial Formation in the Caribbean Context, which was published in the Journal of Supervision and Training in Ministry. He has also presented papers at the annual Caribbean Catholic Theology Conference, on such topics as Catechesis, priestly and religious formation and Canon Law.

*The first seven archbishops: Anthony de Verteuil, CSSp, Shepherds of God: Priestly Vocations from the Archdiocese of Port of Spain (Port of Spain: Litho Press, 2001), pp 5 – 11.