Hurricane Maria, a superior category 5 hurricane, devastated Dominica on September 18, 2017.
The following churches and chapels were severely affected :
I am creating a link named ” destroyed by hurricane MARIA 2017″
The chapel at MAHAUT RIVER below
Upper Penville chapel
by Bernard Lauwyck
July 4th 1972 was a festive day in Calibishie, as their brand new church hall or multipurpose building was official opened by Bishop Arnold Boghaert. A large crowd gathered, “including truckloads of visitors from as far as Soufriere and Giraudel”, according to the Dominica Chronicle.
The building was adored with a mural done by Lennox Honychurch, based on a design of Gilda Thibaud Nassief, with the theme “casting the net” which was an appropriate image for a chapel dedicated to St. Peter.
Frs. Henri Brennan FMI, parish priest and Jean- Baptiste Villeneuve FMI, the builder, concelebrated with the Bishop.
This building sustained damage with each passage of a hurricane , in 1979, in 1980 and in 1995. Even as repairs were done after the damage the building kept deteriorating: the steel structure, exposed to a lot of seablast lost its structural integrity; concrete foundations were cracking; the roof developed more and more leaks; a branch of a breadfruit tree fell onto the roof; the chapel flooded several times.
As a result Bishop Gabriel Malzaire, in consultation with the parish priest at the time, Fr. Celsus Auguiste, decided that a new chapel building was needed.
Fundraising for this new chapel was in full swing when Hurricane Dean hit on the morning of August 17, 2007 and lifted & rolled up the roofing. The parishioners had no choice but to look for an alternative place to worship: first at the government school building and later, when that building was also declared unsafe for the public, a local restaurant.
On August 24, 2010 I presented my design for the new chapel to Fr. Celsus Auguiste and his Calibishie Chapel Reconstruction Committee and it was accepted.
On September 26, 2010 Bishop Gabriel Malzaire performed a ground bearing ceremony with a large crowd in attendance. I had the opportunity to explain the design and its liturgical symbolism. Sadly Fr. Celsus could not attend this important event as his mother died a few hours earlier.
The technical drawings were approved by the Physical Planning Division on November 17, 2010.
Requests for tenders went out, but as the available funds were insufficient, only a section of the building could be started. The construction of the foundations and the erection of the galvanised steel frame were started in August, 2012. Once that was done, the works could only continue as funds were limited: the concrete floor was cast with volunteers between January 11-12, 2013; the concrete blocks were installed with self help in April 2013.
It was slow going but the catholic community, under the leadership of Fr. Conan Shillingford and a hardworking building committee, was determined to finish their chapel.
Finally all their efforts were rewarded when they moved into an unfinished chapel, still under construction, late 2013. The building at that time had no windows nor doors.
The Divine Mercy and patron Saints images and angel murals were installed in 2014.
The works and fundraising continued and finally, the chapel was ready for the official blessing on July 2, 2017. Bishop Gabriel Malzaire in the presence of Fr. C. Sebastian Robert MSFS, parish administrator Deacon Alvin Knight and a large gathering solemnly dedicated the new chapel to Sts. Peter and Paul.
Sadly Fr. Conan could not attend this moment he had work so hard for, as he was on sick leave.
What remains to be done is the construction of a tall bell tower, with toilet facilities and a vestry under neath.
see other articles on this chapel in this blog (below).
In 1863 Bishop Rene Poirier , third Bishop of Roseau (1859-1878) made a pastoral visit along the windward coast of the island. He described the chapel at Castle Bruce as “a hovel of a chapel covered with straw.”
In February 1872 the Sons of Mary Immaculate, or Fathers of Chavagnes, arrived in Dominica. Bishop Poirier undertook, at the age of 72, the long and tiresome ride to the windward side of the island in order to install the french Fathers in their respective parishes. Having first visited La Plaine and La Roche, he rode as far north as Castle Bruce, where he was received with manifestations of unbounded joy. He asked the faithful to restore their chapel and build a presbytery if they wished to have regular Holy Mass in their hamlet; until those buildings were erected they would have to go to St. Sauveur for Holy Mass.
In June 1880, Bishop Michael Naughten , fourth Bishop of Roseau (1880-1900), paid his first pastoral visit to the windward district. The church of Rosalie was nearing completion; the one at St. Sauveur was almost finished. Castle Bruce was also visited on this occasion. “As His Lordship does not mention any chapel, in that important hamlet, it is supposed that the chapel which existed there twenty years before had fallen into decay and never been reconstructed” quote from THE ECCLESIASTICAL BULLETIN OF THE DIOCESE OF ROSEAU (EBR)
Many years passed and nothing seems to have been done : in 1927 regret is expressed that a church has not been built in Castle Bruce and that the parishioners have to cross two, sometime swollen, rivers to attend Holy Mass at San Sauveur.
Bishop James Moris, sixth Bishop of Roseau (1922- 1957) , saw the great need for a church in Castle Bruce and obtained from Mrs. Johnson, the owner of the Castle Bruce Estate, 4 acres of land for this purpose.
In 1940 he mentioned that the faithful of Castle Bruce, over 700 in number, are gathering native lumber, in order to build a large chapel .
It took however the arrival of Fr. Pascal Vrignaud FMI to make this longtime dream come true. On August 12, 1952 Bishop Antoon Demets C.Ss.R. , Coadjutor Bishop of Roseau (1946-1954), blessed the corner stone of the new church at Castle Bruce. It was a grand occasion .
By July 1954 the church was almost completed but some doors & windows and interior fixtures still had to be completed. The church “solid, all in mason work of 20″ or 18″ thickness and surmounted by a graceful tower was the pride of the people of Castle Bruce.” ( The Dominica Chronicle July 24, 1954)
The stones for the church came from the ruins of the old sugar factory of the Castle Bruce estate. Fr. Pascal got permission from the owner to remove and use them (source : Dr. Lennox Honychurch).
As Fr. Pascal’s health failed him and he left to recuperate in France it became the task of Fr. Hilaire Maupetit FMI to complete the church.
The Parish of Our Lady, Health of the sick was canonically erected on February 2, 1954 by Bishop James Moris C.Ss.R, extending from the Pagua River to the Castle Bruce River , including, beyond the Castle Bruce River, the hamlets of Dix Pas and Tranto. This large area was before a part of the Parish of St. Saviour (which was canonically erected on February 8, 1866 by Bishop Poirier C.M.).
By July 1954 the parish church of Our Lady of Health was almost completed. The doors & windows and interior fixtures were installed at a later date by Fr. Hilaire Maupetit FMI, Fr. Pascal’s successor.
The church, surmounted by a graceful tower, became the pride of the people of Castle Bruce.
Fr. Pascal Vrignaud returned to Castle Bruce and was living there in 1978 when Dr. Lennox Honychurch painted the mural behind the altar. Father Pascal sat for his own portrait.
Another important event in the history of this parish church was the extensive damage caused at 3 p.m. on November 29, 2007 by an earthquake. The 2007 Martinique earthquake took place underneath the Martinique Passage and had a magnitude of 7.4 on the Richter Scale.
Damage was located in three areas of this beautiful historical building: the tower, the sanctuary walls including the mural and the pointed arched windows.
The church was declared unsafe and the community had services in the Government Primary School for several months.
The damage to the church amounted to more than EC $ 200,000.00. As the building was under- insured the pay-out from the insurance was insufficient to do all necessary repairs and reconstruction.
For public safety reasons, the bell tower, cracked from top to bottom, was demolished in February and March 2008 to avoid danger to the public. The bell named PASCALINA MARIA was stored away for future use.
The parishioners moved back into their church on Palm Sunday the 16th of March 2008 although the windows still had to be replaced and repaired. This was done during the months of June- July 2008. The building was also completely rewired and repainted.
Today, almost 10 years after the November 2007 earthquake, the present parish priest Fr. Godfrey Tarimo is constructing a new tower, which will house the old bell.
by Bernard Lauwyck
The chapel in Calibishie was dedicated and solemnly blessed on July 2, 2017 by Bishop Gabriel Malzaire . Its patrons are Sts Peter and Paul.
This new place of worship replaces the previous building which was severely damaged by Hurricane Dean in 2007.
The sanctuary furniture was donated by the Joseph family from Calibishie through the initiative of Mr. Simeon Joseph. Countless people and several organisations made contributions to the construction of this chapel.
This was a community project which was started by Fr. Celsus Auguiste, built when Fr. Conan Shillingford was parish priest and blessed during the administration of Deacan Alvin Knight.
I personally spent countless hours at Calibishie , day and nighttime, to move this project forward.
The Main contractor was Ronald Bedneau.
A lot of work was done by local free labour, coud-de-main. We need to commend the parishioners of Our Lady of La Soie and especially the ones at Calibishie for their untiring efforts and devotion.
click on Calibishie chapel link on the right side (churches under construction) to find out more about the design and construction of this chapel.