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Monsignor Richard Albert dies suddenly

Published:Tuesday | December 1, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Monsignor Richard Albert

The local Roman Catholic Church has been plunged into mourning following the sudden death last night of noted priest, Monsignor Richard Albert, who served the mission in Jamaica for almost 40 years.

The 69-year-old died at the University Hospital of the West Indies in St Andrew.

West Portland member of parliament and close friend, Daryl Vaz, found Albert "labouring to breathe" at his St Andrew home minutes after 11 yesterday morning, after a phone call to the outspoken priest went unanswered.

"This morning, I called Monsignor to remind him of a Mass he was going to do for me. He didn't sound good. He complained to me that he thought his sugar level was low. I said to him he knows what he needs to do to get his diabetes under control. About an hour later, I called him back to check up on him and there was no answer. I know that he lives alone, and I went up to his house and found him sitting down labouring to breathe."

Vaz Called doctor

Vaz said he called Albert's primary physician, who instructed that the priest be taken to hospital.

"He was fully coherent and knew what was happening. When he went in, he was speaking and explaining to them [health worker] and then he started to complain bitterly of pain in his back. And then all of a sudden, he became unresponsive. They were able to resuscitate him and got back a pulse. Thankfully, we were able to get his last rites to him before he actually passed," recounted Vaz, who is seeking to assure friends and family that Albert was not alone during his final moments.

The parliamentarian praised Albert for his contribution to Jamaica's development.

"What Father Albert has done in this country, as somebody who came here as a foreigner, is more than many billion-dollar corporations could even think of doing for the people especially the inner city," Vaz said.

Albert joined the Catholic ministry in Jamaica 39 years ago after arriving here from New York. He was instrumental in creating and facilitating the establishment of many social intervention projects like the St Monica's Home for the Aged, The St Patrick's Foundation, and the Stella Maris Foundation.

In 2006, Albert drew spotlight on Christians in Jamaica when he declared that "the Church has lost its guts" by being reluctant to speak out against corruption and injustice in the country.