Sat | Oct 21, 2017

Richard Albert was subject of Church's greatest sin - Thwaites

Published:Wednesday | December 23, 2015 | 12:00 AM
The Mass of Christian burial for the late Rt Rev Dr Monsignor Richard Albert at the Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church in St Andrew last Wednesday.

The following are excerpts from the sermon delivered by The Reverend Ronald Thwaites at the Mass of Christian burial for Monsignor Richard Albert, held last Wednesday at the Stella Maris Roman Catholic Church in St Andrew.

1) Richard Albert was a mischievous man in his own way, you know. I remember this story many years ago because he was on Bay Farm Road at the corner of Olympic Way and a taxi man had bad-driven him. And he pulled up beside him, as he told me, and so did the taxi man. As it turns out, he did like this to him. And the next day, the taxi man found his way into my office, and he said, 'Mr Thwaites, you had a big Catholic Church, too. Do talk to Father Albert for me because I feel that him put some spirit on me.'

When I look, he rolled up him pants and said, 'Mi foot start swell already'.

2) And his desire to return to full ministry. He asked me to speak to certain people and to encourage and speak of a yearning, nagging vision to be fully incorporated in the only life that he knew: that of priesthood.

3) I remember Richard Albert again many years ago. There was an old deacon. Some of you will remember him, brothers. And he lived in Portmore, but he was assigned to Kingston. A beautiful daughter of his was mercilessly mowed down by a road driver at the bus stop one morning on her way to work, and the family was in grief and the case eventually found manslaughter and something went to court, you know. The man was convicted because he was unrepentant, and, just as there had been discourse between Richard and this man who lost his daughter, and I knew of it, just before the sentence was passed, that man got up in the back of the courthouse and said, 'Please, may I speak? I have forgiven him. I don't want you to send him to prison. He has a family just like mine, Please be merciful.' That was the spirit not only of that good clerk, but also, it was the inspiration of Richard Albert.

4) I am sure that there are many faults and misleading ... about him, but I won't forget a walk that he took with Tony Riley and Forbes to their death on the gallows of St Catherine district prison and how he looked into their eyes and bore the gaze of remorse and regret and, with others, the protestation of innocence when I myself could not look into their eyes, so fearful of death was I. So resolute in his understanding of the worlds of life, and the prospects of abundant life after death, was this man.

5) The truth is that throughout his life and ministry, Richard Albert, as well as many of us, was the subject of what to me is the greatest sin of the Church and of the nation, and that is of gossip.

We love and tell stories of each other. We don't determine always whether they are true or false. And when they are true, do we respond in the spirit of Pope Francis and the Year of Mercy? Do we respond with a footing of appreciation that anyone who is without sin, cast the first stone?

St Paul said, never let evil talk pass your lips. Say only the good things men need to hear, things that will really help them.

Do nothing that will sadden the Holy Spirit.

Get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander and malice of every kind. Be kind to one another, compassionate and mutually forgiving, just as God has forgiven you in Christ.

We are good at the theory of mercy and reconciliation, but the practice often eludes us. We need generosity of spirit. Jesus never cursed his detractors. He never demanded an eye for an eye. The recruits to the great banquet of the kingdom, they would have many faults and many crimes on their rÈsumÈ.

All of us have serious thorns in the flesh. Richard had them and many he never conquered. He was more like we are, like those lame, crooked and distorted ones - like most of us here.