A decision of the Bishop of the Anglican Church in Grenada, Leopold Friday who is based in St. Vincent to suspend a local priest, Father Roland Mark for six months is meeting with strong resistance from followers of the clergyman.
THE NEW TODAY has been reliable informed that Bishop Friday wrote Fr. Mark a letter that was read in the Anglican Church last Sunday to the congregation on the suspension over the manner in which a vehicle was purchased for use by the Parish of St. Paul’s and St. David’s.
A source close to the church told this newspaper that several of the
regular church go-ers stayed away from mass last Sunday morning in protest at the action taken against their local priest.
He said that only four persons including a vagrant turned up at the Anglican Church in St. David’s while about 10-15 persons were seen in the Congregation in the church at St. Paul’s.
The mass last Sunday at the St. Paul’s church was held by a lay member, Meryl Lord.
According to the source, Fr. Mark has been censored for not getting approval from the governing board of the Church in St. George’s for purchasing the vehicle and making the arrangements through his own parish.
He said that most persons in the St. Paul’s and St. David’s area are appalled at the decision since the matter was discussed months ago with Bishop Friday who did not object to the purchase of the vehicle.
He spoke of the Parish presided over by Fr. Mark taking out a loan in their name from a local credit union to purchase the vehicle from Hubbards.
He said the vehicle was purchased in the name of the Parish and not Fr. Mark and that a plan was put in place to service the loan from the credit union.
He explained to THE NEW TODAY that a vehicle was badly in need to service the two communities since the one inherited by Fr. Mark from the previous parish priest often broke down and was causing too much embarrassment to the priest.
“You know how many times that Fr. Mark was leaving St. Paul’s to go to St. David’s for mass and he had to call someone to come and pick him up because the vehicle broke down with him”, he said.
The source was annoyed that Bishop Friday after giving his approval to the purchase of the vehicle then turned around and sided with the ruling Board that is influenced heavily by persons from St. George’s that Fr. Mark did not follow the proper procedure.
Speculation is rife that the move against Fr. Mark is partly due to some tension between church followers in the Town of St. George and the Parish of St. Paul’s and St. David’s.
THE NEW TODAY was told that several persons have moved away from the Anglican Church in the city and are now worshipping with Fr. Mark in St. Paul’s.
“We feel that some kind of jealousy is involved in this”, said one
When this newspaper contacted Fr. Mark on Tuesday for comment on the issue, he would only say that it was “an internal matter” and wanted “The Divine” to deal with it.
“I would choose not to say anything at the moment. I will wait for guidance from the Divine and you will hear”, he remarked.
Another source told THE NEW TODAY the Bishop Friday has since taken back on an earlier decision to instruct the Parish to give back the vehicle to Hubbards.
He said the decision was considered to be foolhardy since the church was the one to lose heavy financially on the transaction and not the vehicle dealer or the credit union.
In addition, Fr. Mark was told that at the end of his six month suspension, he would be put under the stewardship of Fr. Michael Marshall in St. Andrew’s who is known to be a junior priest under him.
The source said that the congregation in St. David’s is up in arms against the decision of Bishop Friday and took a decision not to co-operate with the annual harvest planned for June 1.
In addition, the church followers are planning to boycott the Anglican pilgrimage planned for Carriacou on Corpus Christi (June 19) to celebrate Family Day in support of Fr. Mark.
The suspended priest is due to resume his official duties on October 5, 2014.
Fr. Mark is the current principal of the St. Andrew’s Anglican School in Grenville.
THE NEW TODAY called the head quarters of the Anglican Diocese to speak with Bishop Friday but his Secretary Janice Glasglow said that the suspension of Fr. Mark is not something that he would want to speak about.