Sunday, 18 May 2014

Celebrating Bishop Emeritus Sydney Charles

Today, the parish of St. Joseph/Mt. D'or and by extension the Archdiocese celebrates a man of God from our very own community. Bishop Emeritus Sydney Charles celebrates a milestone in his life. Before we celebrate the present, let us appreciate his past and all the contributions he made as we take a trip down memory lane.
Born on April 17th, 1962 to Mary & Albert Charles in the St. Joseph town, he was the eleventh out of twelve siblings. He has always been a parishioner of the St. Joseph R.C. Church and he attended the St. Joseph Boys' R.C. School, the very same school that our present Archbishop attended, and Nelson Street Boy's R.C. School where he later continued his secondary education at Osmond High School and St. Mary's College. Following his secondary education, he entered the public service where he worked for three (3) years (1945-1948) and during that time, he knew that the Lord was calling him to religious life. On May 1st, 1948, he joined the Seminary of St. John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs where he did his theological studies for six (6) years. On March 7th, 1954, he was ordained as a priest. He served as parish priest at a number of parish communities such as Arima, San Juan, Carapichaima, Chaguanas and even the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
On November 18th, 1974, it was announced that he would now become the Bishop of Grenada and on January 26th, 1975, he was then ordained Bishop. He served as the leader of the local church in Grenada for over 25 years and on July 10th, 2002, he retired as Bishop but continued to live in Grenada and serve as the Lord. It is no doubt that Bishop Charles did alot for the Diocese in Grenada during his time and he definitely paved the way for not only his successor but for many priests in both Grenada and the wider Caribbean region.
According to many St. Joseph parishioners, they often refer to him as "a man of God with a cheerful sense of humour". Many times Bishop Charles would celebrate mass at the parish and fill the atmosphere with joy as he would recite his jokes and stories all recorded in his personal diary which he carries around. He worked with the late Archbishop Anthony Pantin (whom he calls his "good friend"), the present Archbishop Joseph Harris and even had a personal encounter with our newly canonized saint, St. John Paul II when he made his visit to Trinidad back in the 1970s.
On May 18th, 2014, Bishop Emeritus Sydney Charles celebrated a milestone in his religious and personal life, his 60th Anniversary of priestly ordination. Many members of the clergy all came to support this man of faith. Frs. Michael Mackhan, Benedict Hilare (his nephew), Alan Ventour, Harold Imamshah and Donnie McMahon to name a few concelebrated with fellow Bishop, Bishop Emeritus Gault, the current Bishop of Grenada, Vincent Darius, the Papal Nuncio Nicola Girasoli, His Eminence Cardinal Kelvin Felix and our very own Archbishop Joseph Harris serving as the Homilist where he paid tribute to his friend. In his homily, His grace pointed out that Bishop Charles lived 'a holy life' and the only way to accomplish that kind of life to 'accept the crosses in our own lives'. He even said to the faithful that we ought not be surprised to hear that Bishop Charles wiill be canonized as a Catholic Saint. Members of the Charles family and faithful members of the parish were all present to celebrate this special moment. As we, the parishioners of St. Joseph/Mt. D'or were honoured in being part of such a grand occassion, we thank the Charles family for their support which they have shown towards the parish and we also thank the many priest and Bishops that took the time out of their busy schedules to come and celebrate a friend.

On behalf of parish community, we say Congratulations to Bishop Emeritus Sydney Charles. May God continue to bless him. God be Praised!  Here are some highlights from today's mass:

--B. Durham, 2014

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