Roman Catholic Priest, Fr. Gerard Paul has called on Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and the United States Charge d’Affairs to Grenada, Stephen Frahm to use their positions to help heal the nation.
In his hour-long sermon at the National Ecumenical Service to mark the October 25th Thanksgiving Day at the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Tivoli, St. Andrew’s, Fr. Paul said he believes both Dr. Mitchell and Frahm have a very important role to play in the healing of the nation.
The Roman Catholic Cleric told the American Diplomat that the events, which took place between October 19th 1983 to November 1983 was the most painful period in Grenada’s history.
This is reference to the October 19, 1983 execution of Marxist Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and Cabinet colleagues (Unison Whiteman, Jacqueline Creft and Norris Bain) amidst a power struggle within the ruling New Jewel Movement (NJM) for control of the People’s Revolutionary Government (PRG).
U.S and Caribbean troops stormed the island on October 25, 1983 to topple the coup leaders headed by Deputy Prime Minister, Bernard Coard, and included then mobilization Minister, Selwyn Strachan, Ambassador to Cuba, Leon “Bogo” Cornwall, Army Commander, General Hudson Austin, and top army officers Lieutenant-Colonels Liam James and Ewart Layne.
The coup plotters who have since returned to society were given stiff prison sentences following a trial that took place at a specially arranged court on the compound of the Richmond Hill prison.
According to Fr. Paul, the 1983 events must not just become symbolic, and a ritual that is done year after year, but must help to heal the nation.
The Homilist indicated that within the vicinity of the Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA) there is a monument bearing the names of the 19 American soldiers who died during the intervention, but there is nothing honouring those Grenadians who would have perished in the military battle.
Fr. Gerard said the United States is itself working assiduously to heal the trauma from the deadly 9/11 terrorist strike when a plane flew into the Twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York and another hit the Pentagon, just outside Washington and so too they must help Grenada to bring about the healing that is needed as they played a most vital role in what ensued.
“You two gentlemen, Dr. Keith here present with us… and the Ambassador… you have a historic role in helping us to right the wrongs of the past,” the Roman Catholic cleric remarked.
“We need some work towards genuine reconciliation. We need you Mr. Ambassador to work with Dr. Mitchell to bring back the bodies of the people who are no longer here. We need that or else don’t make a mockery of us every year saying you’re giving us a holiday” Fr. Paul said.
The bodies of Bishop and his ministers were never handed over to family members for the usual Christian burial that takes place on the island.
“Celebration for any nation is about unity and healing of the nation,” he said.
The Homilist admonished the congregation to never forget their history.
“If you don’t know where you’re coming from, how the hell you’re going to know where you going to?” he asked.
Fr. Gerard chided the people for not wanting to let their children know of their history, and to recognise their identity as Africans.
However, he indicated that the history of every nation and family is filled with great, good, triumphant things, and very bad, ugly things.
“Instead of allowing our dark past… to be a vehicle of our liberation, our past… has become and continues to be the means of our bondage and continued in slavery,” he said.
The Catholic priest stressed that the Bible is not a history book that catalogs all of the successes of the people spoken of in the various books.
He said too often people boast about God when things are in their favour without understanding that the Living God is working in the midst of what seems to be their failure.
Fr. Paul paid homage to Grenada’s first Prime Minister, Sir Eric Gairy whom he said has a wealth of history.
He said there are heroes in Grenada who must be allowed to inspire the nation.
Bishop’s left-leaning NJM had toppled the elected labour party government of Sir Eric on March 13, 1979 in the first coup d’etat in the English-speaking Caribbean.
Fr. Gerard called on Minister of Education, Anthony Boatswain to lead the charge in having the history of Grenada be rewritten, and to review the education programme at the school level.