Category Archives: Sunday Mass at 7 am

The exquisite church of MASSACRE in Dominica

The St. Paul and St. Ann church in Massacre is one of the most beautiful churches in Dominica.

x interior of St. Paul and St Ann's church in Massacre

 In 1987,  I worked with Fr. Franklyn Cuffy C.Ss.R. to construct a new roof and install a roof covering. architectural detail Massacre Church

Many years later, I got the opportunity to bring out the beauty of this church in and out, when Fr. Rodney Olive C.Ss.R. teamed up with Mrs. Nancy Nassief to bring Caribbean colours to this church.
Massacre church

The colour scheme proved quite durable as 10 years later the Massacre church still looks fabulous !!!

The stained glass windows were renovated by Bernard Clerici when Fr. Clement Jolly was Parish Priest.

Blessed Sacrament in Massacre church

Blessed Sacrament in Massacre church

Massacre church stained glass

Sacred Heart window in Massacre church

Sacred Heart window in Massacre church

St. Patrick’s church in Grandbay

beautiful interior of St. parick's church in GRANDBAY

beautiful interior of St. Patrick’s church in GRANDBAY  in 2010 and below 2015

Grandbay June 20 2015

101_PANA-P1010138_P1010138Grandbay church tower

On 25 November 1866, René Marie- Charles Poirier, third Bishop of Roseau wrote to the Propagation of the Faith in Rome “The parish of “Grande-Baie”, ancient mission of the Jesuits, has been abandoned since. The chapel is in ruins, without roof, without door, without windows, and overtaken by bushes ” After the Jesuits abandoned their Geneva estate before 1764 , the Catholic Church never regained possession of the Geneva estate although the use of the chapel and burial ground on that estate continued. This was not without problems. In 1844 there was a violence in the Grandbay area and one of the reasons was “that the attorney of these properties had caused the Roman Catholic Chapel on the Geneva Estate to be locked up which gave great offence”. Attempts by Bishop Poirier in 1866 to secure the portion of land around the chapel for the Catholic Church from the Geneva estate legal owners proved unsuccessful, so a new church was built at the outskirts of the Geneva estate. This parish church, located in the neighbourhood of the present church tower, was the first church in Dominica to be solemnly consecrated. This was in early 1905.101_PANA-P1010151_P1010151 The first time we read about the present parish church in Grandbay , outside the Geneva Estate, is in the Ecclesiastical Bulletin of 1919: “The Bishop left Roseau for Grandbay on April 28, 1919 and held, on the following day, the confirmation service, after the Solemn High Mass, sung by the Rev. Fr. Baudry, FMI, Parish Priest of La Plaine. The presence of 8 priests in the sanctuary enhanced the solemnity and the impressiveness of the Divine Service. 250 confirmation candidates, with their godfathers and godmothers, filled the church. It was, on this occasion, observed once more that the large parish of Grandbay needed a larger church. Rumor has it that the parish priest Fr. Francois had renounced his plans to enlarging the present parochial church, and was, with the Bishop’s approval, determined upon building a new, spacious church.” The parish had increased to well over 4,000 inhabitants, nearly all Catholics. It was decided to build a new church, much larger and much more beautiful than the existing one. Works were started in 1921 and it was considered that it would require 2 years to complete. But, owing to the unforeseen rise in the cost of building materials all available money was spent long before the walls were finished and the people, on account of the trying times, were unable to help, though they showed much good will in voluntary labour.     (sources The Ecclesiastical bulletin of Roseau and the history written by James Moris)Grandbay bell tower .(sources The Ecclesiastical bulletin of Roseau and the history written by James Moris) The present church was renovated with rust proof Aluminium sheets in 1989. At that time it lost the “gargoyles” or waterspouts, an architectural element which reminded the parishioners of devils. The floor was beautifully tiled by Fr. Krastel R with a financial grant from Fr. Albert Lamothe (+ 2010). He also expanded the cemetery. Fr. Mark Owen C.Ss.R set up a hardworking pew or bench committee under the chairmanship of president Liverpool. He also replaced the concrete blocks in the windows with timber shutters with stainless steel hooks and stained glass, redid the sacristy, built the choir stalls in the choir loft, and installed a new PA system. Very Rev. Fr. Mark Owen C.Ss.R also brought out the beauty of the architecture of this church by painting it with the colours green and gold/orange, colours associated with the Irish saint St. Patrick. In 2010, Most Rev. Kelvin Felix, archbishop emeritus, replaced the rest of the church pews and added the sanctuary screen and celebrant’s chair.Grandbay celebrant chairs

photograph by Monsignor William John Lewis

photograph by Monsignor William John Lewis

Some of the old wooden church pews, still made with hand tools, were salvaged and refinished. The beautiful church, which you should visit, reminds each of us of the strong faith of the parishioners of St. Patrick’s parish, both past and present.GRANDBAY church

THE CHURCH, dedicated to St. Theresa of Lisieux, in SALISBURY

Stained Glass above the Main Altar in the sanctuary

St. Therese SGW

This church was solemnly blessed and dedicated to St.Theresa of Lisieux in 1929.

IMG_1417It is a beautiful building, constructed in local quarried porous red-colored stone with a timber roof structure, covered with corrugated galvanized steel sheets.
In the words of the late Bishop James Moris in his history of the Diocese of Roseau : “The church was constructed with splendid materials, graceful proportions and exquisite beauty”      The building is one of the few cross-shaped (cruciform) churches in the Diocese of Roseau.

The original windows of the 1930’s church had to be replaced by Monsignor Eustace Thomas with durable aluminium windows in 1990.   Monsignor also set the new roofing project in motion. Fundraising continued under Rev. Fr. Elveau and the new roof was installed under Fr. Paul in 2006.   The Parish installed ceramic tiles shortly after the roof was completed. At that time, there was no resident priest.

When the newly ordained priest Fr. Nigel Karam was appointed Parish Priest of St. Theresa, he identified a ceiling as the most pressing need.  It was impossible to have ceremonies in the church, during heavy rains as the sound of the raindrops on the galvanised roof was deafening.

Fr. Nigel Karam  brought me a photograph of the type of ceiling he wanted and my team started the design.

large flower motif carved out of CEDAR wood

large flower motif carved out of CEDAR wood

A main feature was the flower motif,

as St. Theresa is referred as “the little flower”.


After funding and materials were secured , the first part of the ceiling was completed in 2010,  as you can see below.

The nave was completed in June 2012.

I want to express my gratitude to Fr. Nigel Karam to allow us to design, built and install a beautiful ceiling in this most beautiful church in Dominica

March 2010 110

design by Bernard and Gale LAUWYCK, workmanship by Anthony JOSEPH and Ronald JOSEPH
design by Bernard and Gale LAUWYCK, workmanship by Anthony JOSEPH and Ronald JOSEPH
completed ceiling

completed ceiling

NEW TABERNACLE in Our Lady of Fatima church in Newtown

The next time you visit Fatima church, please have a look at the new tabernacle in the Sanctuary.

beautiful Sanctuary in Our Lady of Fatima church

beautiful Sanctuary in Our Lady of Fatima church

design by Bernard and Gale LAUWYCK, made by Anthony and Ronald JOSEPH

design by Bernard and Gale LAUWYCK, made by Anthony and Ronald JOSEPH

The present renovation of the church is an initiative of Parish Priest Fr. Clement Vadakkedath, C.Ss.R.

Renovation by Fr. Clement Vadakkedath C.Ss.R.

Renovation by Fr. Clement Vadakkedath C.Ss.R.

WHAT IS NOT KNOWN IS THAT ALWIN BULLY designed this church for Fr. Stryckers, who built it, but never quite finished it. At that time Alwin was a young chap but Fr. Stryckers C.Ss.R. must have recognised his talent. THIS IS INDEED A MOST BEAUTIFUL CHURCH, dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima.Fatima church

I also wish to recognize the ceiling works and Stained glass windows which we installed by Very Rev. Fr. Mark OWEN in 1990.  The stained glass windows in the sanctuary were obtained and installed by Rev. Fr. Charles VERMEULEN C.Ss.R.


AN ARCHITECTURAL MASTER PIECE                                    By  Bernard Lauwyck,

Mural escape to

mural by brother Xavier Lecointe,  C.Ss.R.

Two weeks ago, I described the history of the Roseau Cathedral up to the completion  of the Western steeple in 1916, without finding  the master planner or the architect behind it.  We noticed that solitary clergy at different times used and directed highly skilled local people.  Their skills were stone shaping, stone masonry and preparation of  lime mortar, joinery and carpentry, roofing, blacksmith work. The work on the Cathedral was stopped and continued as the resources were available both human and financial, and the island’s economic situation was peaceful and favourable.

Entry into Jerusalem mural and ceiling

                                       mural by brother Xavier Lecointe,  C.Ss.R.

As Mrs. Dorothy Leevy wrote : “We  can only conclude that the natural stones are evocative of a period of intense faith and labour as well as of extreme generosity to build the physical structure that is our Cathedral. These same stones which make up the building should  remind us, the Living Stones today, of our responsibility to complete  this present Cathedral renovation project.”

Indeed this Cathedral is not a relic from the past, but a living testimony of our Faith today.  It is the human stories, I find so interesting and would like to get from you, the readers, and weave between the well documented deeds and proclamations of the church leaders. The story of builder Francis Giraud; the “ordinary” stone mason of Roseau, named Thomassin Aubrey,  and his large local crew; The story of Augustus Parker and Brother Jacobs in more recent times and their local co-workers.  And many more: the men and women who carried the stones from the river, sea or quarries. The men who got the ingredients to make “La chaux” and prepared the lime mortar. There must have been huge construction crews with very little lifting equipment.  I am sure that a lot was done by free labour (cou-de-main).

It is clear to everybody that the  front elevation with the 3 steeples was  designed to impress, also due to its location on Constitution hill, overlooking and dominating Roseau.  A beacon on the hill.


An 80 feet steeple is architecturally not high by international or even regional standards; for example  13th century Chartres Cathedral steeple stands 375 feet tall.  But Bishop Monaghan in 1855 clearly succeeded in creating the effect of an imposing cathedral on the hill, the Catholic Church dominant and triumphant !





But it is also the symbol of the Catholic Church , who like Mother  Mary as Our Lady of Fair  Haven places God’s protection over God’s  people in Roseau and throughout  the  Diocese. This historical role of the church in Dominica has been forgotten by many, even by some of our clergy.  The traditional role of offering refuge and protection to the poor, the sick, the weak and the destitute by the Catholic Church resulted in the establishment of an orphanage  in 1866 by Bishop Poirier . The early establishment of pre-schools by the Social Center and its many other programs for troubled teens and adolescents today. Also Calls (Center for adolescents to love, to learn and to serve ) in Portsmouth is doing a wonderful job.  The Alpha Center and the out reach to the elderly (REACH , CARE in Portsmouth and the Infirmary)  were started and staffed by religious sisters up to recently. Did we forget Sr. Maria Eelen starting the group of elderly in Woodfordhill?  Did we forget Sr. Madeleine’s pioneering work with the homeless in Roseau and her role in setting up of the Grotto home?   Do we forget the many works of St. Vincent de Paul Society ?  The role of the Catholic Church in establishing quality education for all” in each parish during the latter half of the 19th century against the opposition of the British administration” (see Lennox Honychurch the Dominica story).  Sr. Alicia’s setting up of the first cooperative Credit Union in Giraudel in 1957 which has blossomed into a huge network and propelled the economic development of ordinary people forward in the island.  All these initiatives and works had their roots in the spirituality and social teaching of the Catholic Church.  Remember this, next time you look at this imposing Cathedral !

The Diocesan Archives record that a lot of renovation work took place between 1902 and 1910.  Actually, repairs were continually ongoing supported by “The Record Cathedral Bazaar” of 1907 and 1911 and other fundraising activities for the Cathedral.  Dr. Lennox Honychurch  provided me with a 1920 photograph , taken from the present SMA yard, which clearly shows the Cathedral surrounded by scaffolding.

french poem in crypt

Crypt where Redemptorist Brother Xavier was buried

My research into the burials in the crypt found a two page obituary of a Redemptorist Brother named Xavier.  From the “The Ecclesiastical bulletin of Roseau” we know that brother Xavier Lecointe,  C.Ss.R.  died on December 26, 1910 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, St. Gerard’s Hall, the Roseau presbytery, the presbyteries and chapels at Laudat and Bellevue Chopin.”(Dioc. Archives)

   “No sooner had Bishop Schelfhaut been enthroned (1902) he was determined to build a new Bishop’s house.  The old one, a decayed, shaky, tiny hovel, was razed to the ground, and on its ruins Brother Xavier, C.Ss.R. an architect and master-mason, erected the beautiful and solid Bishop house which is the admiration of all visitors to the island.  Commenced about the end of 1902, it was completed and blessed before the end the following year.”(Dioc. Archives).

In 1909 Brother Xavier supervised the work on St. Gerard’s Hall ”   “A plan was drawn and Brother Xavier, in spite of his failing health, volunteered to supervise the work.  With his characteristic tenacity he brought it to completion, not however before being almost at death’s door.  The hall was blessed about the middle of December 1910, and the good Brother departed this life on December 26.”

Reading the Ecclesiastical bulletins of Roseau, it struck me how Religious Brothers and Sisters are hardly mentioned in these bulletins, except in an obituary.   I also noticed how their work, contributions and achievements remain unrecorded. The mighty and important ones write history: long forgotten architect Brother Xavier Lecointe, God’s architect , died at the age of 48, of extreme exhaustion after  8 years non-stop  designing and constructing buildings  in the larger Diocese of Roseau. He died in the presbytery of Roseau, a building which he built himself and was buried in the Crypt in the Cathedral he beautified.

In 1907 the roof of the Cathedral almost collapsed. We read in the Diocesan Archives: “Early in 1907, when closely examining the wooden pillars, which supported the roof of the Cathedral, it was noticed that they were altogether rotten at the base so that the roof had sunk already some 7 inches. It was more than time to replace them by something more sturdy and damp-proof. The wooden pillars were condemned and round  stone pillars and arches erected instead. The ceiling of the nave, built with local wood, proved to be so worm-eaten that individual boards were becoming loose here and there and accidents were to be feared. It had to be entirely renovated.  A new floor was laid down in the nave and Sanctuary, and the unsightly old pews replaced by brand-new ones.  When the renovation works were completed and the Cathedral painted inside and out ,  Redemptorist Brother Ildephonse Lepas ( + July 10, 1910)  decorated the Sanctuary and fixed two huge paintings from his own brush behind the altars of the Sacred Heart and the Blessed Virgin.” 

So , for a short period , from 1902-1910,  we found the names of God’s architect and God’s decorator. Both died  shortly after they completed their beautiful works. The results of their decisions, skills and work remained for all of us to see.