The Jesuits in Guyana
Caribbean: Barbados, Trinidad, Jamaica

For two hundred years, British Guiana (as it was then) and Barbados were linked ecclesiastically in one Vicariate Apostolic and Jesuits served both territories. When, in 1956, the dioceses of Georgetown (Guyana) and Bridgetown-Kingstown (Barbados and St Vincent) were formed, the Dominicans assumed responsibility for Barbados. The Guyana Jesuits retained one parish, St Francis of Assisi, on the west coast of Barbados. A small cinema was purchased and converted into a church and a simple but beautifully proportioned house was erected. This building serves as parish presbytery and “villa” (holiday house). The church and house are in a stunning position overlooking the Caribbean Sea and it provides a haven for rest and retreats for Jesuits from Guyana and elsewhere. A single Jesuit of the Guyana region, Fr Michael Campbell-Johnston, is stationed in Barbados. Besides his duties as parish priest and he helps to support the small Catholic community in Barbados as well as offering a welcome to visitors.

Some years ago the Jesuits in Guyana planned that some of the formation of their young men should be in Trinidad at the Regional Seminary of St John Vianney. The plan to send scholastics and brothers to Trinidad has proved to be unworkable. But the Guyana Jesuits have discerned that they are in a position to offer help in staffing the seminary where most of the English-speaking diocesan priests in the Caribbean are trained. At the request of the bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference, Fr Eddy Bermingham has been appointed Dean of Studies at the Seminary. It is hoped that suitably qualified Jesuits from other regions can be attracted to supplement the courses offered at the seminary. A small residence, close to the seminary has been purchased where these visiting Jesuit professors can live together in community.
Besides Guyana, Jesuits serve the Church in the Caribbean in Jamaica and Belize. The Jesuits who form the Jamaican region of the Society came from New England and Canada. Belize forms part of the Missouri Jesuit province. Over the years Jesuits from Guyana, Belize and Jamaica have made efforts to plan and work together. Distances between the three territories have proved to be a hindrance. Air fares to Jamaica from Guyana cost almost as much as fares to the United States. Flights to Belize from Guyana involve over-nighting in the US. Nevertheless, Guyanese and Jamaican Jesuits have managed to forge close links from which Belize has not been excluded. The Guyana and Jamaican regions share a common novitiate, situated in Jamaica. Recently two men from the Jamaican region have joined Fr Eddy Bermingham in Trinidad to offer course at the Seminary. Plans for joint meetings for the Jesuits in formation from the Jamaican and Guyanese Regions are being discussed.