The residents of the parish of St Philip pride themselves on having an identity of their own which emphasises community spirit, and it came to the fore tonight when hundreds of the residents of that eastern parish turned up at Long Bay to join in a candlelight vigil for the four young ladies who lost their lives early Sunday morning in a horrific car accident on Two Mile Hill, St Michael.
Heading the procession, which ended a few metres away from the home which cousins Shakira Sheperd and Shameka Shepherd shared with other relatives, were St Philip North MP Michael Lashley and St Philip South MP Adriel Brathwaite.
It was at this location that the heads of the religious denominations which cater to the spiritual needs of the Long Bay community offered prayers for the departed and paid tribute in song.
Pastor in charge of the Salvation Army Church in Long Bay, Envoy John Coultrust, remembered the two cousins as smiling young girls who grew up in the district.
Coultrust told the grieving relatives that the members of his church were willing to share their pain because they felt as if they were part of their family.
Later, members of the Salvation Army choir paid tribute in song to the departed souls with the rendition of two hymns “Strength” and “Power of Your Love”.
Another church choir from the surrounding district also paid tribute in song with “My God is Awesome” and “How Great Thou Art”.
National songbird Kareen Clarke moved some members of the crowd to tears with a smooth rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer”.
Also attending tonight’s candlelight vigil and prayer session were Pastor in charge of Restoration Ministries Reverend Dr David Durant, who resides at Fortesque, St Philip; St George North MP Gline Clarke and Barbados Labour Party caretaker for the St Philip North constituency Indar Weir.
Meanwhile, in a brief address to the crowd, Brathwaite said the tragic passing of the four young women brought back memories of the loss of his son, Adondre Brathwaite, who drowned in St Croix at the tender age of 14 on October 14, 2013.
Recalling the tragic death of his son, Brathwaite said he began to question how a God who sees everything and knows everything could allow his son to die under such circumstances.
“I questioned God and asked, ;How is it that a God who sees everything and knows everything could have taken my 14-year-old from me?’. I was annoyed. There are times when I am still annoyed, but then there are times when I give praise and say, ‘thank you God for the 14 years Lord. Thank you for the fact that I was able to have such a beautiful child.’ He passes by me every once in a while and says hello, because the memories are there. In fact, if two or three days pass and I do not think of him, I am saddened. I still keep him close to me by doing things we shared together,” the Attorney General said.
In an equally brief address, Lashley reminded the crowd that it was not a case of St Philip North or South, but one big St Philip family sharing in the grief of some homes.
The Minister of Transport and Works told the crowd that tonight represents the love, the regard and the respect they have for each other and the four young ladies who died.
“The country was shocked, the country was shattered, by that tragic incident on Sunday morning. Not only does this incident touch me as a representative, but it also touches me personally given the fact that Carmale, Waveney Johnson’s mother is extremely close to my family. She is like an adopted sister in my family. I want to say to everyone tonight that we must continue in the way we are going, in that we must show and continue to show the love and continue to comfort the families,” Lashley said.
He announced that just 30 minutes before he began to speak, he received a call indicating that Nakisha Shepherd, the lone survivor of Sunday’s accident, who remains hospitalised, has “tremendous hope of recovery”. (NC)