The Roman Catholic Church in the Diocese of St. George’s-in-Grenada has laid to rest the body of the longest serving priest.
Fr. Cyril LaMontagne, born in St. Lucia in 1932, died at the St. George’s General Hospital on August 5th 2016 after suffering a slight stroke.
He was buried on August 18th at the St. George’s top cemetery following a Funeral Mass, which was celebrated by Most Reverend Robert Rivas, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Castries, St. Lucia at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
At age 21, LaMontagne having overcome many obstacles began studies for the priesthood in Martinique with the Holy Ghost Fathers, and then went to Canada to further his studies for another nine years.
Since his priestly ordination on August 9, 1964 by the first Bishop of the Diocese of St. George’s-in-Grenada, Justin Field of the Dominican Order, LaMontagne made Grenada his homeland.
Homilist Fr. Gerard Paul, a close associate of the departed priest based his sermon on the crisis of the priesthood throughout the centuries.
Fr. Gerard said despite crisis after crisis for two thousand years, the priesthood survived and continued with its mission.
He believes the crisis that is now faced within the local presbyteriate, and globally is more daunting than the crisis of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
The Roman Catholic Cleric referred to the current status of his fellow Clergymen.
He said there are few priests, and the age is of concern.
“The fact is that we are few, and we are growing older and older. The average age of a priest in the Caribbean is 68, 69 years old, and it is continuing to deepen and go over the hill. That’s the reality we face today,” he said.
However, Fr. Gerard said the deeper part of the crisis is not just in the numbers, whereas the priesthood is not such an attractive prospects, but in the quality of the priesthood that is presented to the laity.
He noted that the Church’s ability to surrender is what is going to make the priesthood meaningful, and not the numbers.
“The priesthood that the people need, is a priesthood that stands for the sick, the marginalised, and the orphans and the widows, and the lonely people of our world, the people who face injustice,” he said.
According to Fr. Paul, the Church is looking for people who use power to empower others, and not those who use power for their own self and seeking to build their own kingdoms.
The Homilist believes that in as much as his priestly brother passing is a time of sadness, it is also a time of thanksgiving to God for the gifts that he freely gives to mankind.
He said gratitude to God should be for life, for the gift of the priesthood, and for the longevity of service given by Fr. LaMontagne.
The departed priest served in the priesthood for 52 years having his faculties throughout his years of service.
Fr. Gerard indicated that service of the priesthood is central to the life of the Church.
He stressed that the priesthood shaped the whole landscape and terrain of Christianity, adding that there wasn’t a Christian Community that did not have a priest at its head.
“Today, for us Catholics, that remains absolutely true,” he said.
Fr. LaMontagne served as Cathedral Administrator from January 1965 where he is best remembered.
He was appointed Vicar General by Bishop Emeritus Sydney Charles in October 1976, a position he held for 27 years.
He was honoured by the Holy Father, Pope John Paul ll with the Honorary Title of Monsignor in September 1983, and was reappointed Vicar General by Bishop Darius in 2003 until his retirement in 2012.
Altogether Fr. LaMontange served as Vicar General for 36 years.
Msgr. LaMontagne was also honoured by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth with the title Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 1996.