Catholic Bishop consecrated
-takes Guyana as second home By Iana Seales
Stabroek News
January 31, 2004

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"Guyana is where I would live if I had to choose a country other than my homeland of Trinidad and Tobago", Guyana's new Roman Catholic Bishop Francis Dane Alleyne, OSB said yesterday to a thunderous applause, minutes after he was ordained.

His ordination to the episcopate was witnessed by a multitude gathered at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Brickdam.

The Trinidad-born Rev Alleyne is Guyana's third RC bishop and has taken over responsibility for the diocese of Georgetown from Bishop Benedict Singh.

The consecration commenced at the scheduled 4 pm with the procession of priests entering the Cathedral. Fr John Persaud delivered the welcome and Chief Con-secrator, Archbishop Edward Gilbert, introduced the nine visiting bishops.

Archbishop Gilbert read the Apostolic Letter from Pope John Paul II after Rev Alleyne was assisted over to the chair of the principal consecrator and made a sign of reverence.

The Pope, in his message said, "You have admirable qualities and now you must make a profession of the Catholic Faith. I urge the Catholic Community to accept you and pray that the Holy Spirit nourish and direct you. May the peace of Christ remain always with you."

The homily followed and then Archbishop Gilbert addressed Rev Alleyne on the duties of a bishop: "You, dear brother, have been chosen by the Lord. Remember that you are chosen from among men and women and appointed to act for men and women in relation to God. The title of bishop is not one of honour but of function, and therefore a bishop should strive to serve rather than to rule."

Rev Alleyne was then examined by archbishop Gilbert and questioned, an age-old custom of the fathers which decrees that a bishop-elect is to be questioned before the people. He responded with several affirmatives and the congregation was invited to pray for him.

The highlight of the ceremony was the laying of the hands, a tradition in the Roman Catholic Church where priests and bishops call on the Holy Spirit. Archbishop Gilbert and the consecrating bishops stood at their places, facing the congregation, as Rev Alleyne knelt in silence. The archbishop then laid his hands upon Rev Alleyne's head in silence and all the other bishops followed.

Next was the imposition of the Book of Gospels. Archbishop Gilbert placed the open book on Rev Alleyne's head and the book was held in this position until the prayer of consecration was completed.

Rev Alleyne was then ordained bishop after the prayer and Archbishop Gilbert anointed his head with chrism (holy oil) before presenting him with the book.

Bishop Alleyne then received the ring, his mitre and pastoral staff and went to occupy the Bishop's Chair, after which he was welcomed into the college of bishops. The welcome was the greeting of peace. The kiss of peace is an ancient gesture of Christian fellowship; when given to the new bishop by the other bishops.

The new bishop was then presented with gifts by his mother, Fita Alleyne and two brothers.

A contingent of Bishop Alleyne's family was among those seated in the congregation. During his brief speech, following the consecration he pointed out that his family was most influential in his early days.

The new bishop paid tribute to his predecessor, noting there is an example in Bishop Singh that inspires.

Visiting Bishop Gabriel Mazaire of Dominica told Stabroek News after the consecration that the new bishop is deserving of the appointment.

President Bharrat Jagdeo was among those present at the consecration.

Bishop Singh was appointed auxiliary bishop of Georgetown on February 18, 1971. He was the first Guyanese to be elevated to this status in the Catholic Church and to be chosen to serve his people in his own country. In 2003, he submitted his resignation having reached 75, the age of canonical retirement.

Newly-ordained Bishop Alleyne was abbot of the Monastery of Our Lady Exile, when he was appointed bishop-elect by Pope John Paul II last November.

He studied at St Peter's School in Pointe-a-Pierre, Trinidad and Tobago for six years and went on to the Regional Seminary of St John Vuianney and the Uganda Martyrs in 1974. He received his priestly ordination on July 17, 1985.

Upon his appointment as bishop-elect Rev Alleyne told Stabroek News he was coming into a new culture and has to learn and respect what is here; learn the paradigms in which people express themselves and what they are comfortable with.

Bishop Alleyne selected the phrase, "That all may have abundant life" for his motto. He explained that the verse from St John's Gospel (John 10:10) expresses his profound belief that through his ministry as a bishop, joined to the ministries of all priests, deacons, and religious brothers and sisters, mankind may come to achieve the ultimate of all life, that is Christ, in the eternity of Paradise."