Monthly Archives: September 2014

The history of the St. Alphonsus’ church in Pottersville

Part 1                                                                            by Bernard Lauwyck

The first St Alphonsus' church in Pottersville.jpg

The first St Alphonsus’ church in Pottersville.jpg

In 1929 the Roseau Parish had three out-stations.  THE ECCLESIASTICAL BULLETIN OF ROSEAU (EBR)  described  that “in the country districts chapels-of-ease existed at Bellevue [Chopin], Morne Prosper and Laudat.”   In Giraudel,  Holy Mass was celebrated in a “good-sized house of a planter”.  No mention was made of  Charlotteville (Newtown) , Loubiere, Trafalgar or Wotten Waven till much later.

“On account of the influx of country people to Roseau and especially the Goodwill quarter, it was decided to build a new church . To this end, Mr. Francis Potter, owner of the Goodwill estate, kindly made a grant of [ a portion of land measuring] 100 x 200 feet, to which he added somewhat later another grant  for the purpose of building a parochial school. [EBR].  This land was were located in an area called “Balahou Town” now called Pottersville.

The foundations were laid in December 1929, under the supervision of a French priest of the FMI order named Fr. Barreau. The Fils de Marie Immaculée (FMI) or Pères de Chavagne  had a proven record of building churches and schools all over Dominica.

“Under the direction of Mr. Ralph E.A. Nicholls the church was started in January 1930, rose from the ground as by magic and at the end of September it was ready to be solemnly blessed.” (EBR)

The church was rectangular with at the front an imposing flight of steps. It was described as follows : “ It has three aisles and extends from east to west 116 feet and from north to south 48 ft. The nave is marked off from the side aisles by seven elegant pillars, connected by elegant arches. Two larger, but equally graceful arches span the sanctuary, which with its two high windows and window in the middle is a marvel of beauty. : In fact, a more devotional interior it would be difficult to conceive. ”  (EBR)

It seems that the communion rail and the Stations of the Cross were also very beautiful.

The blessing , performed by Bishop James Moris, a Redemptorist, took place on October 5, 1930.  The patron saint of the church was St. Alphonsus Ligouri, the founder of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer or Redemptorists.   Much later did this church become the parish church of the Parish of St. Alphonsus, which was canonically established on February 2, 1954.   The parish was administered by Belgian Redemptorists Fathers for many years till the local clergy took over .

In 1957, the newly ordained local priest Kelvin Felix was posted to the parish. According to Kenneth Richards,  Fr. Felix was the one who “arranged for the old wooden windows in the church to be replaced with metal and glass windows, giving the place of worship a more lightsome appearance.” AMIDST THE SUGAR CANES- 1991- Kenneth A. Richards.

On August 29, 1979 Hurricane David caused severe damage to this almost 50 year old church. The roof was torn off, windows blown out .  Many arches and columns were cracked and damaged beyond repair.

The task of building a new church fell on the shoulders of Fr. Eustace Thomas.


The artist Mr.  Caesar Catin  did an excellent job on the painting of the mural with angels adoring the Blessed Sacrament.P1130600





My dream, design and proposal became reality by the persistence of Fr. Conan Shillingford.
This is the kind of artwork we need in our churches and chapels.P1130599


 THE CRYPT under the ROSEAU CATHEDRAL     by Bernard Lauwyckfrench poem in crypt

As we enter the dark, gloomy, moist area that is the Cathedral crypt, we immediately ask ourselves why candles are not burning in this burial place of the Bishops of Roseau.

The general appearance is one of neglect. Only the red –yellow bricks in the vaulted ceiling  gives some colour to an otherwise desolate place. P1050299

The back wall has a painted white cross with black drapes painted above.

The painted black drapes, faded badly,  continue along the side walls. Otherwise there is no decoration.



To the left and right of the white cross, on the back wall, is a barely readable French poem .  I have been able to decipher this beautiful text  with the help of a lot of learned friends, mainly  local ones,  some overseas and I thank each of them for this.

They are the 8th and 9th stanza of a POEM called  “STANCES CHRETIENNES SUR L’HOMME”   from  the pen of Monsignor  Olympe-Philippe GERBERT (1798 -1864), Bishop of  Perpignan in France.

It can be found  in its totally in his volume “LE CHANT DES CATACOMBES” on Google  “Annales de philosophie chrétienne, Volumes 70-71” by Augustin Bonnetty, R. P. Laberthonnière, Charles Denis

« N’éteignez pas la lampe solitaire

Qui veille et luit dans un sombre caveau ;

N’éteignez pas l’espoir qui seul éclaire

La nuit du cœur et la nuit du tombeau.


Dieu lui réserve une fin magnifique ;

Il s’éteindra dans une autre clarté ;

Pour expirer, sa lueur prophétique

Attend un jour qui soit l’éternité. »



Rev. René-Stanislas LAVA, Redemptorist, was born in 1859 in Poperinge, Belgium and died in 1903 in Roseau Dominica, where he was doing God’s work the last 16 months of his life.

For several years a missionary in Belgium and Canada, he had, by his powerful sermons, converted many a sinner.

On April 15th, 1903, he arrived at Roseau and was attached to the Cathedral staff.  A few months later he was in the grip of one of the most dreadful and dreaded of all tropical diseases, yellow fever, and died  after only a few days’ illness, on September 13th, 1903.

From the Diocesan records we know that Rev. Fr. Patrick O’Reilly is also buried in the crypt :

But the angel of death was already hovering over Father O’Reilly and struck his fatal blow on 1st June 1882, not however in Roseau, but in New York whither he had gone, under medical advice, for the restoration of his health, which had been very badly impaired.  Arrangements were made at once to have the earthly remains of the zealous  priest of God conveyed to Roseau, the scene of his 20 years’ labour for the salvation of souls.  Early in November the corpse arrived in Roseau, and after an imposing service at the cathedral, was conveyed to its last resting place in the vault beneath the St Joseph’s chapel”

From the “The Ecclesiastical bulletin of Roseau” we know that brother Xavier, C.Ss.R. died on December 26, 1911 at the Roseau presbytery and was buried in the crypt.

He was born in St. Genois in Belgium on December 18,1862 and became an architect by training and profession before making his religious profession on October 28, 1892 at the age of 30.  He arrived in 1902 in Dominica where his architectural skills were very useful during the important renovation project of the Roseau Cathedral between 1902 and 1910.  He also worked on the Bishop’s house, the presbyteries and chapels at Laudat and Bellevue Chopin.

The chapel under construction in CALIBISHIE update Sept 2014

Artist Caesar CATIN at Calibishie chapel Sept 2014

Artist Caesar CATIN at Calibishie chapel Sept 2014


Since the destruction caused by hurricane DEAN in 2007, the Catholics in Calibishie have been without a proper Place of Worship.

They are like the Israelites wandering in the desert.  First they were allowed to use the government school for Sunday Mass. This was declared unsafe  some time ago. Then they move to a former disco in expectation that their new chapel would be built.  Design Calibishie chapel








In August 2012, after much fundraising, delays and prayers, the new chapel was finally started.

In January 2013, several days of voluntary labour (cou-de-main) completed the concrete floor and the walls.

As soon they were able, the people moved in and Sunday Eucharist celebrations has now been taken place in the unfinished chapel building.Eucharistic celebration in unfinished chapel in CALIBISHIE

Holy Mass in chapel under construction in Calibishie
Holy Mass in chapel under construction in Calibishie












We admire the dedication , patience and determination of the Catholics in Calibishie.