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Thursday 15 November 2018
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Devoted men of God

Fifty years ago, three young Trinidadians, Knolly Clarke, John Metivier and Ivor Ottley (now deceased), were ordained Anglican priests by Bishop Frank Chamberlain at the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity in downtown Port-of- Spain.

Last Saturday (July 9), the date of the anniversary of their ordination, a concelebration of the Votive Mass of Christ The Eternal Priest, took place at the cathedral for the two retirees, former Dean of Trinity Cathedral Canon Clarke and Canon Metivier, who had studied for the Diploma in Theological Studies at Codrington College, Barbados, at the same time. And although they have lived in two separate parts of the world since 1978, they have always celebrated milestone anniversaries together - the 35th in London at St Michael’s and the 40th at Trinity Cathedral.

Officiating clergy were Co-Adjutor Bishop Claude Berkley, Father Ashley Mungal, Reverend Lyris Bailey and Canon Kenneth Forrester, a former Archdeacon in the Diocese, who preached the homily, giving glory, praise and thanksgiving to God for having called the two celebrants to the priesthood.

“Together, with the late Reverend Ottley, they have given 150 years conjointly in faithful and devoted witness to the Word of God ... We must be alert and answer the call to serve, fostering and nurturing vocations to the sacred Ministry. It does no good complaining we have no priests. Let us celebrate three sons of the soil of Trinidad and Tobago who have given the sacrifice of time, talent and expertise,” Forrester said.

The rafters of the old church also raised with powerful music by The Choirs of the Cathedral, The Trinity All Generations Steelband, and The Lydians, who, with dancers and tassa drummers, chose to sing parts of the Mass from their successful presentation last Christmas of Jose Maria Vitier’s Misa Cubana.

At the end of the two-hour long service, which was attended by retired Bishops Clive Abdulah and Rawle Douglin, the Co-Adjutor Bishop, in the absence of Bishop Calvin Bess, blessed both priests, who renewed before God and those present their commitment to the life of priestly service.

Said the Bishop-Elect: “Fifty years of quality service, you are champions for the Lord, serious warriors, who must continue to offer to serve in whatever way they can be used.”

Tokens of appreciation were then presented to the two priests, and many words of appreciation came from members of the congregation.

The former Dean, who has been instrumental in giving advice and prayerful support to the trade unions, and acted as the mediator in the 1990 attempted coup by the Jamaat-al-Muslimeen, was praised for his work in the Diocese.

I had the privilege of sitting next to Ver Morris-John, who did not go forward to the microphone, but whispered to me that she had attended primary school in South Oropouche with Canon Metivier, who was always “a very nice and quiet person”.

Canon Metevier has lived and worked in England for the past 33 years. Born in Mayaro, seventy-nine-year-old Metevier married an English nurse, Elizabeth, in 1968, and they are parents of Michael and Ruth, who read the New Testament Lesson; and grandparents of Sophie and Emily. After primary school, he attended Naparima College in San Fernando.

“I always wanted to be a priest,” he said as we chatted outside the cathedral earlier in the week, “but I also liked other things, such as being a sailor or farmer. Looking back, God had a plan and he was working it out because I had about five jobs in as many years ... Now I realise that often times God has to close a door in our face to get us where he wants us to be.”

And so in 1956, he entered Codrington College, Barbados, was ordained Deacon in 1960 at St Michael’s Cathedral, Barbados, and became assistant to the Rector of St James Parish, Barbados.

After his ordination on July 8, 1961, the soft-spoken priest served at St Crispin’s and Princes Town. In 1964, Metivier obtained a BD and M Div at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in California. Always on the move, he went to England in 1966 and worked with the USPG: Anglicans in World Mission. While doing a Holy Week Project in Bushey, he met his wife and in 1967 went to the Cambridge College of Arts and obtained a London University Arts degree externally. In 1968, Metivier came home and was appointed Rector of St Mary’s, Tacarigua, and in 1977 Rector of St Andrew’s Tobago. In what was to be his last move, he returned to England in 1978 as Rector of All Saints, Great Berkhamstead in the Diocese of St Alban’s, and in 1982 became Vicar of St James Goffs Oak, Hertfordshire, also in St Alban’s. In 1990 he was made Vicar of St Michael the Archangel, Wembley, in the Diocese of London, and was appointed a Canon of the Cathedral in Trinidad. In 1995, Canon Metivier became Bishop’s Commissary in the United Kingdom and eventually retired in 2001 to St Mary The Virgin, Kenton, Harrow, Middlesex, and still does services in this church and others as well.

His interests include reading history, theology, mysteries, biographies and autobiographies; service on the board of St Simon of Cyrene, on the USPG council and on the Afro-Caribbean Aids Society. He also served as Chair of Friends of the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago and the Provincial Representative on the Society for the Advancement of the Christian Faith. Metivier returns to England on July 26.

The 73-year-old former Dean of the Cathedral, Reverend Clarke, a Canon of the Cathedral Church, holds a Doctorate in Inter-faith Studies and still lectures in Moral Ethics and Values at Cipriani Labour College in Valsayn. He is very involved in the Diocese and heads the local Chapter of Codrington College’s Diploma in Theological Studies, which is run by priests from several Christian churches, and teaches extra-mural classes both in Trinidad and Tobago towards this diploma.Canon Clarke is third vice-president of the Inter Religious Organisation (IRO) and Chaplain to the Mothers’ Union Movement and National Scout Movement, and has received the Humming Bird Gold for Community Service and Social Work. Canon Clarke has served as a member of several Commissions on Ecumenism, Social Concerns and Human Rights, and has a number of publications bearing his name. His, is a life of true service to both church and community and he is always willing to serve wherever his expertise is required.

Born in Tunapuna, Clarke wanted to be a priest from his student days at Tranquillity Intermediate and Progressive Private School. At first, however, he wanted to be an engine driver. “My father was Station Master in the old days of the railway. My vocation started at Good Shepherd in Tunapuna as a server, and my mentor was Bishop Benjamin Vaughan, Dean of the Cathedral. After leaving school I taught two years at Richmond Street Boys’ Primary, and then went to Codrington, where on completion of the Diploma in Theological Studies I was ordained Deacon at St Michael’s Cathedral in Barbados, returned to Trinidad, and after 1961 priestly ordination was assigned as Assistant Priest at St Stephen’s in Princes Town.”

In Princes Town, Rev Clarke met and married nurse Estella Millington, a union that has produced three children, Christopher Martin, Marisa and Marcus; and two grandchildren – Soule and Damra.

In 1963, Reverend Clarke went to All Saints in Newtown as assistant curate, during which time he decided to further his studies and obtained his first degree at the University of Western Ontario, came home and went back to Mc Gill in Montreal to complete his Masters, and finally obtained Doctoral degrees at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. After another stint at St Stephen’s, he was made Canon in 1974 and transferred to St Agnes where he spent seven years. Canon Clarke later spent 12 years at St Paul’s in San Fernando and finally in 1994 was appointed Dean of the Cathedral. .

As a priest, Canon Clarke’s four main concerns –Youth Membership, the empowerment of the laity, the ecumenical and interfaith relations, and the social responsibilities of the Church - led him to afford space and opportunity to initiate programmes through music and other forms of cultural activities, and vacation Bible schools, especially for lay persons, not only of the respective parishes, but others from around the areas he served.

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