by Anmar Goodridge-Boyce
It was more of a celebratory than sombre mood at the St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral Jemmott’s Lane, St Michael this morning, as Catholic leaders from across the region joined with family, friends and other well wishers in bidding a fond farewell to Father Peter Thomas Clarke, who passed away in hospital here on March 27 at age 86.
The Dominica-born Clarke was a devout Catholic, who dedicated 60 years of his life to the priesthood.
Delivering the homily at the service of thanksgiving which was presided over by Archbishop of Port of Spain Jason Gordon and attended by several other Caribbean clerics, Father Charles Dominique described his late colleague as a high-spirited individual who impacted the lives of many.
“He was always cheerful and ready to give anyone a big ‘hello’ and hug. He enjoyed life. He enjoyed singing and dancing. Father Peter could connect with anyone and that is a great thing. You don’t often see that in people,” Father Charles said, adding that “[Father Peter] did not stop living even as his body showed wear and tear and that is something we can learn.”
He also suggested that Father Peter had used his time on earth wisely and was able to leave behind a positive mark.
“How long we live doesn’t determine the quality of our life. No matter how long we live our lives must be lived in such a way that it leaves a positive mark on the world and I think we all agree that Father Peter had a long time and a lot of time to put his mark on the world.
“He lived his life in a way that he knew God and did what God asked him to do and that, in the process, many lives were impacted in a positive way,” he stressed.
Father Dominique also called on members of the congregation to live a life pleasing in the sight of God, while suggesting that there was no need to fear death.
“Death can happen at anytime, but if you want to have a place up above, you must follow the commands of God and always do what is right,” he said, while stressing that it was “important to live our lives with our eyes fixed on heaven even here on earth”.
In a brief tribute, Archbishop Gordon said Father Peter was true to his profession as an administrator in the church.
“That wicked, impish smile that he would give to you is an inner purity, a childlikeness, and that impressed me most about him. Father Peter was a true priest and when ever he could not act as priest was when he most agitated, but when he could be a priest he was very happy and what ever was asked of him he was happy to do it.”
Today, as Father Peter’s brown mahogany casket was escorted out of the church by fellow priests, the hymn To God Be The Glory rang aloud as mourners sang all the way to burial site, located in the churchyard.