Tag Archives: Dominica churches

THE OLD and BEAUTIFUL CHURCH in SOUFRIERE

By Bernard Lauwyck

One of our oldest and most beautiful churches in the Diocese of Roseau is the church in Soufriere. This small church is worth visiting as it is a real treasure.
soufriere tiling July 2008 007

Over the last 10 years a huge amount of work was done by several priests to preserve and beautify this church and I am honoured to have been part of every phase of restoration and renovation.

The Parish Church of the St. Mark’s Parish was built by Rev. Fr. Antoine Auguste VERGNE of the FMI congregation (Pères de Chavagnes, France). He became Parish Priest of Soufriere on the 21st of December 1876 and remained at Soufriere till his death, 30 years later, on 31st July 1906. His dedication and tremendous efforts in this parish were recognized in a memorial plaque in the church.

On his arrival in the parish in 1876, he met a dilapidated church building, which in his own words was “unworthy of the God of Tabernacles”. He first extended the sanctuary and constructed a new sacristy behind it. Then the existing Marian chapel , “Chapelle de la Vierge” was enlarged. To make the church cruciform, another side-chapel was erected on the opposite side. All walls of the old church building and the roof were raised to their proper height. But Fr. Vergne did not stop there : a choir loft was added and a magnificent belfry with winding staircases, all in concrete. He finally imported from France, three beautiful marble altars and a baptismal font to match them. The installation of brand new church pews and “artistically “ iron-wrought Communion Railings completed the beautiful church.Soufriere Baptismal font for article

Some of his works, especially the exquisite tabernacle and baptismal font and part of the communion rails can still be admired today.

Sadly the high Altar was broken up in pieces after Vatican II to create the present altar and the tabernacle stand.

The yearly pilgrimage of Our Lady of Lourdes was initiated by Fr. Henry Lorieau on February 11, 1914, with the approval of Bishop Philip Schelfhaut C.Ss.R, fifth Bishop of Roseau (1902–1921). This pilgrimage has met astonishing success every year since, up to this day.

In 1995, hurricane Luis removed part of the roof, which was promply repaired by Fr. Clement Jolly, C.Ss.R.

In 2004 Monsignor William John Lewis, with the assistance of DJ sister Jeannette Pelletier, started the renovation of roof and ceiling of the Soufriere church. These works done by a local team were conducted by foremen Peltier and Etienne. Electrical and painting works followed, the latter done by Diocesan workers.

The next phase in the renovation works was the tiling of the floor with marble tiles, donated by Food For the Poor (USA). I prepared a beautiful lay out with the diverse tiles. Francis Daisy did the tiling in July 2008.

tile design for Soufriere church in2008

tile design for Soufriere church in2008

New pews  were constructed in the SMA workshop as funding became available.

Since hurricane David, the once beautiful stained glass windows were in deplorable and damaged condition. Below are some of my photographs of the damaged windows.

In May 2014, Kelvin Cardinal Felix, Parish priest of St. Mark’s, installed three new Stained Glass windows, designed and produced by Vison Art Glass in Canada. It is the cardinal’s hope to continue the replacement of all the 18 windows.
Take some time off and visit this most beautiful church in Soufriere
 

Since hurricane David, the once beautiful stained glass windows were in deplorable and damaged condition.

In May 2014, Kelvin Cardinal Felix, Parish priest of St. Mark’s, installed three new Stained Glass windows, designed and produced by Vison Art Glass in Canada. It is the cardinal’s hope to continue the replacement of all the 18 windows.

Take some time off and visit this most beautiful church in Soufriere Continue reading

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Pointe Michel church after the fire

pointe-michel-church-september-23-2016

work in progress : Dominica’s National Shrine on Sept. 23 2016

fire/arson at Dominica’s National Shrine

On Friday 22 July 2016 shortly after 8 pm a fire was detected in the church at Pointe Michel, dedicated to our Lady of La Salette; Dominica’s National Shrine

This week cleaning efforts were started as shown below :

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St. Michael window restored in the Portsmouth church

June 2016

The St. Michael stained glass, salvaged from the ruins of the old Portsmouth church after the earthquake of Nov. 21, 2004, has now been restored in the southern semi transept of the new catholic church in Portsmouth.                                                                                                                       St. Michael, the archangel, is depicted as defeating the devil.

st michael sgw pth new church June 2016

Fr. George(s) Paddington first black priest in DOMINICA anno 1850

part 3

The St. Peter’s church in Colihaut: the location of Fr. Paddington remains
In two previous articles I published my research on the first black priest in Dominica named Fr. George Paddington, who died in 1851.

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In these I cited from several sources, but had very little to present from local sources. I have now found a local source which confirms most of my research and places Fr. George Paddington in a new light. It seems that in the short period, less than two years, that he was living and serving in the St. Peter’s Parish in Colihaut, he must have made quite an impression on the local population.

The local source is THE DOMINICA COLONIST, a newspaper that was not known to be pro-Catholic. Indeed in several issues, I found articles against the “popish religion” (= Catholicism) and in support of the Wesleyan missions and the established church, meaning the Church of England.

Therefore I found, to my great surprise, a very positive OBITUARY of Revd. George J. Paddington in the DOMINICA COLONIST of November 22, 1851.

This could only have been because he was an extraordinary saintly priest.
And I quote: “It is with feelings of the deepest regret, that we have this day to record the death of the Revd. GEORGE J. PADDINGTON, Roman Catholic
Curate of the Parish of Saint Peter – aged 50 years, which melancholy event took place at the presbytery in Roseau, this day at 2 o’clock, after a short illness of eight days.

Mr. Paddington was a colored gentlemen and a native of Kerry in Ireland. His pious and virtuous habits in early life did not fail to attract the notice of several high dignitaries of his Church – among whom we may mention the names of the Bishops of Cork and Kerry. At a later period, yielding to the Divine call he unhesitatingly sacrificed the most favourable prospects of worldly aggrandizement and joined that ministry, of which, to the close of his life, he was a distinguished ornament and most worthy labourer. After having devoted a part of his life to the study of Theology in Rome, he proceeded to St. Domingo [ present day HAITI ], but in consequence of the despotic and tyrannical policy of the government of that country with which his liberal and enlightened spirit could not agree, he left on a tour through the islands, with the intention of proceeding afterwards to his native country; but having landed in Trinidad he was induced at the solicitation of His Grace the Archbishop of Port of Spain, Dr. SMITH, to alter his resolve and to accept a mission in this island, where he arrived in September 1849. From that period this, his zeal in his Master’s cause was unremitting, and his exertions indefatigable.

In fact there cannot be any doubt that his death was exacerbated by his exertion in responding to the calls of the dying, during the Influenza in his parish, being night and day in attendance, and having often to travel at a great distance on foot to the mountainous parts to administer the last comforts of religion.”

In “PARLIAMENTARY PAPERS, HOUSE OF COMMONS AND COMMAND – GREAT BRITAIN. PARLIAMENT”, we read that many islands such as Jamaica and St. Lucia were heavily stricken by Cholera between 1849 and 1850. Dominica however was spared this ordeal but had a flu or influenza epidemic during that period. From reading the above obituary, it seems that this flu caused many deaths in Dominica.

Let us go back to the obituary in THE DOMINICA COLONIST :
“As a clergyman, Mr. Paddington was without blemish; as a friend he was sincere and devoted. To these who were under his spiritual charge, his loss is irreparable, and to his friends, his death must ever be a subject of mournful contemplation.”
And then comes a very interesting piece of information, because Dominica was full of religious strife and discord at the time:
“The Passing Bell announcing that his spirit had winged its flight to the region of immortality had no sooner commenced that it was joined by that of the St. George’s [Anglican] Church and a solemn funeral peal was tolled. This is as it should be. In death there is no difference – A Minister of Christ had gone to his reward and his Brethren in the Ministry, although of another denomination, joined to announce to them the mournful but to him blissful event.
His funeral obsequies will be performed at the [Catholic] church in Town, on Friday morning – after which his remains will be conveyed to St. Peter’s- His parishioners having requested that he should be there interred.”

Fr. George(s) Paddington, a saintly black priest, buried in the Colihaut church, has since that time been forgotten in Dominica .