Msgr Allan Ventour has been associated with the seminary at the ‘Mount’ for 47 years, as a seminarian, teacher and rector. After six years managing the Seminary of St John Vianney and Uganda Martyrs, Tunapuna, he has decided to leave.
“I thank God for being with me as a student, as a teacher, then resident in the seminary as a teacher and in the last six or seven years as rector,” he said last Monday at dinner at the Seminary.
Msgr Ventour always believed he would not stay more than six years at the seminary as rector. He recalled a saying, “Do your time and then go…if you stay too long, you start going.” Msgr Ventour mentioned his time of illness while heading the institution. This year he decided, “I had enough” and in January spoke to Archbishop Jason Gordon.
He thanked all who supported him in different ways, mentioning Fr Michel de Verteuil CSSp (deceased), his first rector, and staff at the time including Fr Henry Charles (deceased) and Dr Everard Johnston on whom he commented “the majority of diocesan priests passed under him”. The kitchen staff was not left out.
The atmosphere at the dinner was one of celebration and nostalgia. It was the closing of the academic year. A Mass presided by the Archbishop and graduation ceremony was held earlier at the chapel.
Seven persons graduated from the Theology Department and certificates were also awarded for special programmes. Fr Arnold Francis, principal and dean of the Department and valedictorian Kakande Sekayala Stephen gave addresses.
First to recognise Msgr Ventour was Archbishop Gordon at the closing Mass; more tributes followed at the dinner with Msgr Ventour’s brother Clarence, Vice-Rector Msgr Cuthbert Alexander, recently ordained Fr Lindsay John, and seminarian Paul Ramlogan.
There were many chuckles as Clarence Ventour shared memories. Msgr Ventour was the youngest of six and from young the Mass made an impression.
At five years he picked up Dominus vobiscum— Latin: «The Lord be with you”; Masses then were still held in Latin. He could not pronounce ‘Vobiscum’ “but he used to walk around the home telling family and visitors ‘dominis v… that is a kind of indication of the direction he was heading”, the elder Ventour said.
Although he wanted to enter the seminary after school, their mother insisted he become a teacher for a year to see if life would “draw him in another direction”. This did not happen. Ventour (Clarence) said people have told him they understood the Bible after listening to his brother because “they say he teach”. The feedback gave him a “nice feeling”.
He said, “He is a teacher with love in him…he has done what he wanted that is what I tell everybody… from five years Allan was blessing everybody and it is very rare you will see such a quality in someone.”
Msgr Alexander described Ventour as “a true pastor”. He asked Msgr Ventour to preach at his first Mass. “Father’s simplicity, humility I guess is legendary and I think all of us who were here with him, associated with him know that. I think we continue to learn from you every day,” Msgr Alexander said. – LPG