‘Fr Black has gone the distance’

The Santa Rosa Government Primary School celebrated the tenth anniversary of the ordination of Fr Dwight Black OP on the evening of June 23. Fr Black, parish priest of Malabar, was ordained on June 20, 2004.
The Santa Rosa Government Primary School has been blessed to have Fr Black celebrating Mass twice each term over the past four years, allowing us to boast that we have an effective Mass Committee although only one member is Catholic.
Mrs Park-Wellington, head of the Mass Committee, coordinated the celebration. Michael Bolton’s “Go the Distance” was a fitting theme song as Fr Black has indeed gone the distance with the pupils of our school.
Fr Dwight Black OP, Malabar parish priest, sits between Vicar for Tobago Fr Steve Duncan and Cheryl Clarke-Raphael, principal of Santa Rosa Government Primary School, at the celebration.
Fr Dwight Black OP, Malabar parish priest, sits between Vicar for Tobago Fr Steve Duncan and Cheryl Clarke-Raphael, principal of Santa Rosa Government Primary School, at the celebration.
He was escorted to the school hall by pupils carrying candles and waving gold coloured flags. Andell Bowen, a Standard 4 pupil, played the National Anthem on pan.
Deacon Paul Bousignac did the opening prayer and gospel reflection (Luke 19: 1-10), chosen to highlight persistence and the idea of going the distance.
The audience included Fr Black’s dad, Mr Huggins, and his brother, Sr Therese Dookeran OP, principals from various schools, facilitators and the retired principal of San Juan SDA School – Mr Dennis.
The programme included a welcome by the Infants department and an acrostic by Standard Four pupils. Words such as feisty, altruistic, tenacious, indomitable, impartial, honourable, thorough, bold, ambitious, cogent and keen were used to describe Fr Black.
Jade Cotoy, of Standard 3, paid tribute with a poem, “Thank You Father Black”, which was written by a Standard 3 teacher. Tribute was also paid by principal Cheryl Clarke-Raphael, School Supervisor I Stella Munro, Rev Simon Rostant from the Better World Movement and past principal of Presentation College (Chaguanas), a representative from MEMISA, and Linda Merrick, head of Religious Instruction at the school.
Fr Steve Duncan brought greetings from Tobago and wooed the crowd when he led the singing of “Appreciation”. The Vicar for Tobago noted that June 23 coincided with the date Fr Black presided at Mass for the first time.
Mrs Park-Wellington, a resourceful, transformational leader, was elected to pay special tribute to Fr Black on behalf of the staff. She said the school community has been the beneficiary of Fr Black’s steadfast faith, and selfless dedication and service. “Our call to you has never gone unanswered and you never once drew a line of demarcation between our school and the denominational schools in the parish and in the borough,” she added.
She noted that some children who might not be taken to church on weekends have been able to “get an appreciation of what it means to be a child of the Catholic faith” because of Fr Black’s involvement with the school.
“Your homilies have lifted our spirits and on many occasions disturbed our conscience by calling us to reflect. Many times you have shaken us out of complacency and self-righteousness. To us you are a pioneer in forging relationships – a relationship between our secular school and the wider parish,” she commented.
The various school departments made presentations to Fr Black which depicted different aspects of the person they had come to know over the last four years. The gifts included a coconut plant, a plaque, a teddy bear and chocolates, and a cake with his picture on it.
Fr Black responded in his usual firm, frank but witty manner. The vote of thanks was done by vice-principal Mrs Olukayode and Stacy Goddard. Mr Ramjit did the closing prayer.
Refreshments were served and the celebrations lasted until 10 p.m.
Nadia Carleen Khan-Forte


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