I greet you warmly and welcome the opportunity that has been afforded to us to publicly congratulate my friend and brother, Archbishop of Kingston the Most Reverend the Hon. Charles Dufour, as he marks forty-five years as an ordained Priest in the Roman Catholic Church.
Despite his many achievements and accolades acquired during these forty-five years, Archbishop Charles has remained a true and humble servant leader. It is said that the reward for hard work is even more work, and over the years his outstanding work in Christian ministry has been met with calls to higher and greater service, both in the church and other organizations of society.
Archbishop Dufour was my chairman when I was a member of the Police (Civilian Oversight) Authority. He was inclusive, allowing all opinions to be shared before a consensus was ever arrived at.
He is gracious, patient, knowledgeable and confidential; a meek and lowly person, though exalted. He has a humble and sober personality and a strong and abiding love for God which he unabashedly declares, constrains his actions and proclamations. In fact, although our Archbishop holds the eminent office as Archbishop of Kingston, his letter of invitation to this evening’s Mass was shrouded with modesty, describing this occasion not as a celebration, but rather, calling it his way of; “saying thanks to God for His bountiful blessings which helped him to accomplish the tremendous task entrusted in him to serve God’s people.” He acknowledged without ceasing, that this evening and all his accomplishments could not be done without the help of the Almighty.
We see Archbishop as a church builder, evangelizer and community worker. These are just some of the adjectives that have been used to summarize the nature and personality of Archbishop Dufour; and yes, they aptly describe him! His response to the issues that carry with them great social impact and especially those relating to the improvement of the human condition, are what define him most.
There are some persons who are forgotten by society, such as the sick, the disabled, the mentally challenged, the elderly and the poor and destitute. His duty of care to others has led him to care for those persons, even to the establishment of the Good Shepherd Foundation. The fact that it is non-denominational and designed to serve every facet of “community,” is truly reflective of the ecumenical spirit evident in Archbishop Dufour.
We could say he was “sent to serve” and that he has done willing and faithfully over the past 45 years. Through his work:
- lives have been transformed;
- the sick have someone to care for them especially in their darkest moment and
- the dying who can do so with dignity and the reassurance that God cares for them.
Little wonder then that the Government of Jamaica conferred on him the Order of Jamaica for contribution to religion and community.
In a Homily delivered at the Holy Family Cathedral in Antigua in 2012, Archbishop Dufour stated that, “the dignity to which God calls us as Church is to be a beacon to all the nations, but not any beacon, a beacon of a different Kingdom.”
That call, rings true for Jamaica today, to remind us that we are all called to be God’s beacons! We recently celebrated our Independence; Proud and Free at 53.
Today however, the social malaise affecting Jamaica is of great concern to everyone. This is evidenced in the breakdown in family life and the deterioration in our value system which are fueling even the upsurge in crime and violence. I have heard Archbishop calling the Christian community must continue to push back the forces which threaten social harmony. In our independence celebrations that was the message ringing out; for us to improve the fabric of our society.
We must serve as that beacon of a new and different society and bear up each other with loving kindness, forgiveness and mercy and set the stage to reverse the unnerving trend of disrespect, murders and the abuse of our women and children.
So on the occasion of this milestone anniversary Lady Allen joins me in commending our Archbishop for answering the call to serve Christ and to serve this country.
We can truly call him “a servant of God and a friend to man.”