Sydney Charles, aged 27 years, of the Seminary of St John Vianney and Uganda Martyrs, Mt St Benedict, was ordained to the priesthood March 7, 1954.
The Catholic News reported on his ordination by His Grace the Archbishop Finbar Ryan OP in the ‘Around the Archdiocese’ section on page 4 of the March 13 issue.
The report stated: “Members of clergy, Sisters and laity witnessed the impressive ceremony at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception”. The Archbishop was assisted on the Throne by Dom Anslem van den Eijnden OSB, Dom Cuthbert Van der Sande OSB served as Deacon and Rev Bro Eugene Gibbs OSB was Sub-Deacon.
In his address to the congregation after the ordination, the article reported Archbishop Ryan “recalled the advent of the first band of Catholic priests in the Colony and likened their mission to a match which they kindled, and so spread the flames of Catholicism”.
The Archbishop highlighted that Charles was the first local young man to be ordained during the Marian year. The solemn opening of the Marian year had occurred in December 1953 at the Fatima Shrine at Laventille. The report cites Archbishop Ryan telling the congregation, “It was fitting that such fruits of a people should be given during such a time”.
Among the attendees were: Dom Adelbert van Duin OSB, Abbot of Mt St Benedict and Vicar Provincial Fr CP Coyne OP.
Fr Charles was the fourth member of the local seminary to be ordained priest. The seminary was started in 1943 and the first three local priests—Frs Frederick Patience, John Mendes and Urban Peschier were ordained November 1, 1953.
Providing a synopsis of Fr Charles’ background, the report stated he was born in St Joseph and educated at St Mary’s College. “He took his School Certificate in 1944 and was for two years in the Civil Service of the Colony attached to the Warden’s Office, Tunapuna. He entered the seminary at Mt St Benedict in 1947.”