“If I had to choose again to be a priest, I would choose again to be a priest…I really enjoy my priesthood!” These were the words of Fr Ferdinand Warner OP, fondly known to those around him as Fr Ferdi while sitting in the veranda of the St Joseph’s presbytery looking out at the beautiful view that includes the St Joseph’s river and Mt St Benedict.
|Fr Ferdinard Warner OP|
Fr Ferdi, the last of seven children, hails from Cedros. He says that from a very young age, he had the desire to become a priest and therefore always involved himself in Church-based activities. This was in addition to his community life at home which is much different from community life today. “We always did things together, if we had to go home, it was to do chores and come back out.”
His Church-based activities included involvement in altar servers and youth groups within his parish. His home was a Catholic home and therefore his family went to Mass together every weekend, observed the liturgical seasons and was very involved in their parish community.
At age 16, upon completing high school, he went to his then parish priest, Fr Kevin De Loughry OP and conveyed his desire to become a priest. He was then advised that he should take some time before applying, and so he did. He worked for a while as an electrician with his older brother after attending T&TEC Trade School.
It was in November 1984 that Fr De Loughry invited him to attend a weekend hosted by Fr Rivas (now Archbishop Rivas) at the Holy Cross Priory. On Ash Wednesday of the following year, he and two other young men were invited to enter the Holy Cross priory.
They then entered what is called the postulancy programme and in September, they were in their novitiate for one year. They then made their profession in 1986. In their studentate, they studied philosophy in Puerto Rico at the University of Bayamon. This was an advantage as it gave them an opportunity to become bi-lingual. They then returned to Trinidad to the St Joseph priory, to be closer to the seminary where they continued their studies.
He says that his family and friends were always very supportive of him. He particularly recalls two friends reacting to the news by saying, “Well it’s about time!”
In 1997 he was ordained a priest and was assigned as assistant parish priest of the Santa Rosa Parish, Arima. He then served as assistant to the Master of Students. He was appointed as promoter for Justice & Peace for the order for Latin America and the Caribbean, a post for which he had a lot of passion and through which he accomplished a lot. He also was elected in the same six-year period as president of the Conference of Dominican Fathers in the Caribbean.
In 2004, he was given his current assignment as parish priest of St Joseph. He also serves as Regional Prior for the order. He loves his order and the sense of brotherhood which comes with it. It is interesting to note that he has never lived alone and doesn’t look forward to such an experience as he enjoys community life.
Fr Ferdi has never had any struggles with his vocation or with his faith; there have been challenges but nothing that could not have been overcome. He enjoys pastoral work and has had quite an exciting and fulfilling priesthood.