At the consecration of Msgr Gordon Anthony Pantin as the eighth Archbishop of Port of Spain March 19, 1968, the Feast of St Joseph, homilist and personal friend Fr Mark Connolly OP said he had many “advantages” in his favour: “You are well-known, loved and respected by us all”.
These descriptions still resonate as the Archdiocese of Port of Spain celebrates the 50th anniversary of the ordination to the episcopate of the late archbishop, 5 p.m. tomorrow at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
It will be the first time the archdiocese is celebrating the anniversary of episcopal ordination of a deceased archbishop. Archbishop Pantin was the first T&T national to be elevated archbishop in his own Cathedral, and the youngest at 38 years.
His Excellency Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, apostolic nuncio (Holy See Ambassador) is expected to be among the attendees. The Mass will be his first function in the region.
Last November, the Holy See announced the appointment of Archbishop Nwachukwu as apostolic nuncio to Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Cooperative Republic of Guyana. He is also apostolic delegate to the Antilles. The Apostolic Nunciature (Holy See Embassy) is in St Clair, Port of Spain.
Archbishop Nwachukwu, Titular Archbishop of Acquaviva, last served as the apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua from November 12, 2012 to November 4, 2017.
He was ordained a priest on June 17, 1984, with incardination in the Diocese of Aba, Nigeria. He possesses a doctorate in Dogmatic Theology and a doctorate in Canon Law.
He served in the nunciatures in Ghana, Paraguay, Algeria; at the UN Offices and Specialized Institutions in Geneva, Switzerland, and at the Secretariat of State at the Vatican—Section of Relation with States. Between 2007 and 2012, he was the Chief of Protocol of the Secretariat of State (Vatican). Archbishop Nwachukwu is fluent in English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Hebrew and Arabic.
Tomorrow’s Mass can be viewed live on the Facebook page ‘Archdiocese of Port of Spain’ and on Trinity Communications Network (TCN). It is being celebrated a week after the 18th anniversary of the death of Archbishop Pantin.
Archbishop Jason Gordon was the main celebrant at a private Mass last Monday for diocesan clergy at the Cathedral’s memorial chapel where the bodies of Archbishop Pantin and Bishop John Mendes are entombed.
Archbishop Gordon shared memories telling the priests the passing of Archbishop Pantin was like losing a father, a “spiritual father”. “He confirmed me; he ordained me. He was a source of wisdom,” he commented. Priests were invited to share their stories and the recollections evoked smiles and chuckles.
In brief remarks, Archbishop Gordon said in both the good and challenging times of 1970 (Black Power Revolution) and 1990 (attempted coup), Archbishop Pantin was a man of tremendous hope, believing “God will see us through somehow”. He asked for the intercession of the late archbishop that “through God’s incredible grace, we will find a way to be the Church God wants us to be”.