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He was disappointed but never bitter - Monsignor Richard Albert wanted to return to active priest duty

Published:Thursday | December 17, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Pall-bearers (left row, from front) Fabian Brown, Adam Stewart, Vaughn Bicknell and (right row, from front) Joseph M. Matalon, Kevin Hendrickson and Ian Forte exit the church with the coffin of Monsignor Richard Albert following the Mass of Christian burial at Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church in St Andrew yesterday.
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness (right) and former Prime Minister Bruce Golding take part in the Mass of Christian burial for Monsignor Richard Albert.
Father Joseph Burg (left) and others sing at the Mass of Christian burial.
Parliamentarian Daryl Vaz hugs Rita Mulvey, sister of Richard Albert, while Ryan Mulvey (left) looks on at the Mass of Christian burial at Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church in St Andrew yesterday.
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The reverberating tunes of cantor Kevin Williams at the Mass of Christian burial for the late Monsignor Richard Albert seemed to reflect the impact of the priest's life.

At a service which brought together high society and inner-city Jamaica in unusual proximity, the far reach of Albert's self-sacrificing mission was immortalised.

The homily, delivered by the Reverend Ronald Thwaites, spared no words in vindicating the monsignor, who, in life, was barred from performing priestly duties amid much controversy.

Albert was sent on early retirement approximately five years ago. The archbishop at the time was Donald Reece.

As he paid tribute to the monsignor, Thwaites pointed out: "Even when he could not say Mass in public for a deceased relative or marry a special couple ... because of his sins - real and imagined - denied natural justice, he remained faithful to the authority of the Church ... . He might have been disappointed, but he was never bitter."

SUBJECT OF GOSSIP

Thwaites revealed that the monsignor, in his final days, expressed a wish to be fully re-engaged in priestly duties and was lobbying the leadership of the Catholic Church in Jamaica to bring this about.

"The truth is that throughout his life and ministry, Richard Albert, as well as many of us, was the subject of what, to me, was the greatest malady and sin of the church and of the nation, and that is of gossip. We love to hear and tell stories about each other, and we don't determine always whether they are true or false, and even when they are true, do we respond in the spirit of Pope Francis and the Year of Mercy? Do we respond with a full appreciation that he who is without sin must cast the first stone?" he asked with fervent passion.

Thwaites told mourners that Albert died with regret that he could not perform the Mass before his death.

"It was because he knew what he was doing as priest that he could not leave the priesthood. He could not abandon his people. He checked for everyone, and I know of at least two attempts by different administrations to get Richard Albert out of Jamaica. Don't test me, I know what I am saying. He wasn't going to go to any monastery or some other place. He wanted to stay with his people, and there is virtue in that," Thwaites quipped.

andre.poyser@gleanerjm.com