Archbishop Emeritus Kelvin Felix and some 30 priests from across the region and the United States attended the ordination, including Fr Alistair Elias CSsR, who was ordained a priest just three days earlier in Grenada and who was there to support his classmate.
The church was filled to capacity and the congregation included 37-year-old Fr Letang’s mother and other family members and friends – plus nine parishioners from Malick, Barataria. Both the outgoing and incoming Barataria parish priests – Glanville Joseph and Vanti Auguste, respectively (both Redemptorists) – concelebrated the Mass.
The Mass was very lively with the music and sounds of a combined choir from the Chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Holy Spirit Chapel, Church of Our Lady of Fatima and Cathedral of Our Lady of Fairhaven – under the direction of Mervin Alexander.
The master of ceremonies was Fr Denis Sweeney CSsR, the Redemptorist formator stationed in Boston, while Fr Mark Owen CSsR, Regional Superior – English-speaking Caribbean Region, addressed the congregation at the end of the Mass.
The culture of the Dominican people was evident during the Mass, for example the offertory included gifts of fruit and vegetables from the farmers of Fr Letang’s Giraudel community, considered as the food and flower basket of Dominica.
Bishop Malzaire, in his homily, urged Fr Letang to use his power as priest well, always remembering that it must be used to lead people to Jesus.
He said people must always see their priests as servants, as Christ’s stewards, and they must earn the people’s trust.
Bishop Malzaire urged Fr Letang to grow in love of the Eucharist and to celebrate every Mass as if it were his first and last.
The bishop prayed that Fr Letang would develop the greatest respect for the Body and Blood of Jesus, saying this would have a tremendous influence on the faithful.
Fr Letang was clothed in his priestly garments by his mother, assisted by Fr Peter Hill CSsR, former parish priest of Holy Cross, Santa Cruz.
At the end of Mass, the new priest gave his first blessings to Bishop Malzaire and Archbishop Felix and then to other individuals, including his mother and siblings.
A reception followed at the parish hall. But Fr Letang’s aunt had her own special way of celebrating.
After Bishop Malzaire presented the new priest, she left her seat in the pew, dancing and singing, “This is we priest!”
Fr Letang is the first priest from the community of Giraudel-Eggleston, and celebrated his first Mass on June 9 at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Giraudel. His first Mass at Barataria will be on June 26 at 6 p.m.