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Live a life like ‘Bishop Syd’*

By Kaelanne Jordan, kjordan.camsel@rcpos.org

Catholic educators and students were warned not to allow Bishop Emeritus Sydney Charles to “turn” in his grave by putting God at the “back burner” in education.If they do, young people will experience the “vanity” of education and a vanity of life without God.

This message came from Fr Hugh Logan as scores of Catholic students and staff gathered for a special 10 a.m. Thanksgiving Mass Thursday, September 27 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, St George’s, Grenada, to bid farewell to the third bishop of the diocese.

The Trinidad-born diocesan priest affectionately called ‘Bishop Syd’ died Tuesday, September 4 at the age of 92. He was an advocate for education (God-centred) in Grenada, and founded the New Life Organization (NEWLO) in July 1984—a technical and vocational life skills training centre—which remains one of the proudest legacies of his episcopal tenure.

In delivering his homily, Fr Logan said Bishop Charles may be likened to Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, who some biblical scholars identified as one of the wisest men who ever lived. “Here Solomon, in his old age, speaks from his experience of life. He has examined all aspects of life: work, innovation, experimentation, observation and education. You have two students, one gets 15 passes at CSEC with distinctions and the other, none. At the end, both end up at the same place: dead and buried six feet in the earth.”

Commenting on this, Fr Logan posed the question “Then, does it make sense to go through the pain of studying?”  He responded emphatically that the answer is ‘NO’, if God is not the centre of one’s studies.

He explained, “…Because it will come to a dead end. What is there after death if there is no God. Life becomes futile, a matter of fact, everything becomes futile. And yes, loving and knowing God is the beginning and end of your studies.”

Quoting a verse from Ras Shorty I’s ‘Push the Creator Out’ …Look around you, all you have is teenage bandits, their minds have nothing in it but O’s and A’s and CXC but no knowledge of the Almighty…Fr Logan said that today’s young people, the ones in churches and schools are “bombarded” consistently and relentlessly with views of the world which dismantle, deny, and create distrust in the doctrine of creation.

“They are being taught that the human person is merely the outcome of cosmic, chemical accidents. In other words, we are scientific or mathematical equations. That leaves humanity with no intentional origin, no noble destiny and thus, no story,” he said.

Fr Logan reasoned that is why life has become so “boring” and seems to be a waste of breath. It is the very reason, he said, why young people have no story to tell because life for them is “bland and flat” with nothing to anticipate.

On the other hand, Fr Logan reminded the children that Bishop Charles was a man of stories. He always had a story to tell because life was so meaningful and beautiful for him. Fr Logan urged the faithful to take a page from the wise sage, ‘Uncle Syd’, whose wish is that he be laid flat in the ground on the day of his funeral.

“Drop your pretenses, self-sufficiency; submit yourself to God. Do not let the excitement of being young cause you to neglect God. Honour him while you have your whole life in front of you; beware of allowing the best years of your life to pass or you are waiting for them to begin.”

Students involved in Mass

Earlier in the Mass, Bishop Clyde Harvey gave brief remarks. He beseeched all gathered to reflect on the difference between living and dead. He asked, “How many of you are living?” to which few responded. Bishop Harvey then requested someone to bring more caskets.

He said, “Some of you have died before you made it to the casket. You may be disappointed; you’ve been abused. You’ve somehow said to yourself ‘What is this all about?’. And when you do that, sometimes you make a deliberate choice to die before you die and that’s always a wrong choice because the scripture says that the God we worship is a God of the living….”

Bishop Harvey then directed the faithful to ask themselves ‘How alive am I?’. He further challenged all to live a life like Bishop Syd: generously, lovingly and caring for all who cross their paths.

Vicar General Fr Carl Haynes presided over the Mass with Sr Delia Montrose SSM the commentator. The reception of Bishop Charles’ body by Cathedral Administrator, Fr Andrew Barnard began at 9 a.m.

The Mass of Thanksgiving incorporated students from Catholic schools and Catholics from non-Catholic schools. Prayers of Intercession were delivered by students from St Patrick RC School, Sauteurs; Holy Spirit RC, Chantimelle; St Peter’s RC, Gouyave; Uganda Martyrs, Happy Hill; St Louis Girls’ RC, St George’s; St Matthew RC, Birchgrove; and JW Fletcher Catholic Secondary.

Students from St Joseph RC School, Pomme Rose; St Dominic’s RC; St Theresa’s RC and St David’s RC served as collectors while students from St Mary’s RC, La Fillette; Sacred Heart RC, Tivoli and St Andrew RC, Grenville were responsible for the Presentation of Gifts.

The first reading (Ecc 1:2–11) was done by Chivonne Mc Donald from NEWLO and the Gospel proclaimed by Rev Cecil St Louis.

Following the Mass of Thanksgiving, Bishop Charles’ body remained at the Cathedral for regular midday Mass and thereafter, for viewing by the general public.