Fondly known as Fr Gerry, the Holy Ghost priest dedicated his life to educating young people, particularly those in marginal areas. He was the founder of Service Volunteer for All (Servol) which now operates across the country, with the main school in Beetham Gardens, Port-of-Spain. He passed away on Monday at the age of 85, at Spiritan House, Port-of-Spain.
Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral to say their final good- bye to the priest who 44-years-ago walked up the hills of Laventille, and became a part of the community.
Among those who attended the funeral mass were President Anthony Carmona, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, Zalayhar Hassanali, wife of the late President Noor Hassanali, and more than a score of Servol students.
Fr Pantin was described by Archbishop Harris as a man who possessed all the characteristics of the 21st Century Church. According to Archbishop Harris, the characteristics of the Roman Catholic Church are imagination, availability, inclusivity and martyrdom.
“To judge a person of the Church, it is important to know the characteristics of the Church, and to see whether or not the person who has been judged fulfils those characteristics. Therefore it is through these characteristics of the Church that we will attempt to look at Father Gerard,” the Archbishop said.
The first characteristic of the Church was imagination, and Archbishop Harris said the late priest showed how imagination within the Church could benefit the society.
“The first characteristic of the Church, especially the Church of the 21st century, is that the Church has to be imaginative. But not imaginative in the sense of a flight from reality, but the ability to look beyond the status quo, the ability to see what can be, what should be and the ability to find ways to put that into practice.
“Imagination, religious imagination is therefore essential for the Church. In 1970 Fr Pantin looked at the status quo, saw that it was not doing anything really for society. He saw what could be, and what should be, so he left his prestigious job teaching Sixth Form in St Mary’s, and went up the hills of Laventille to offer hope to people who had no hope. Out of this, Servol was born. Fr Gerry was a man of imagination, religious imagination,” the Archbishop said.
Another trait was availability. Archbishop Harris said two forms of availability are service and servitude. While service is something that is done with one’s generosity of time, servitude is done as an obligation. Harris said Fr Pantin dedicated his life to the service and servitude of the people, particularly young people.