Barbados Catholic faithful, regional clergy, family, friends and other well-wishers bid goodbye to long serving priest Fr Peter Thomas Clarke OP who died in hospital March 27 at age 86.
His funeral Mass last Monday at the St Patrick’s Cathedral, St Michael “was more of a celebratory than somber mood” in memory of the priest who dedicated 60 years of his life to the priesthood.
Online news source Barbados Today reported the service of thanksgiving was presided over by the diocese’s Apostolic Administrator and Archbishop of Port of Spain Jason Gordon.
In delivering the homily, Archbishop Gordon said ‘Fr Peter’, as he was fondly known, was true to his profession as an administrator in the church. “That wicked, impish smile that he would give to you is an inner purity, childlikeness, and that impressed me most about him. Fr Peter was a true priest and whenever he could not act as priest was when he most agitated, but when he could be a priest he was very happy and whatever was asked of him he was happy to do it.”
Administrator of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Fr Charles Dominique OP described his late colleague as a high-spirited individual who impacted the lives of many. He said, “He was always cheerful and ready to give anyone a big ‘hello’ and hug. He enjoyed life. He enjoyed singing and dancing. Fr Peter could connect with anyone and that is a great thing. You don’t often see that in people”.
Fr Dominique added, “[Fr Peter] did not stop living even as his body showed wear and tear and that is something we can learn.” Continuing his tribute he commented that Fr Peter had used his time on earth wisely. “How long we live doesn’t determine the quality of our life. No matter how long we live our lives must be lived in such a way that it leaves a positive mark on the world, and I think we all agree that Fr Peter had a long time and a lot of time to put his mark on the world.”
Fr Dominique told the packed congregation that Fr Peter lived his life in a way that he knew God and did what God asked of him, and in the process many lives were impacted in a positive way.
Calling on members of the congregation to live a life pleasing in the sight of God, he said there was no need to fear death because it can come at any time. Fr Dominique stressed that even here on earth it was important to live with eyes fixed on heaven, “if you want to have a place up above, you must follow the commands of God and always do what is right”.
As Fr Peter’s brown mahogany casket was escorted out of the church by clergy, the hymn To God Be the Glory rang aloud as mourners sang all the way to the burial site, located in the churchyard.