Griev­ing daugh­ter says CCC showed no re­spect for dead fa­ther!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

FToni Ni­cholas or many Chris­tians, Catholics in par­tic­u­lar, Novem­ber is the “Month of the dead”—and sa­cred. On Novem­ber 2, “All Souls’ Day”, the faith­ful visit ceme­ter­ies to pray for their dearly de­parted and to place lighted can­dles at their gravesites. Prior to that is “All Saints’ Day” on Novem­ber 1.

Saint Lu­cia also com­mem­o­rates Re­mem­brance Day in Novem­ber, to hon­our war vic­tims. Also in Novem­ber the cas­socked lead their flock in med­i­ta­tion on the mys­tery of the Com­mu­nion of Saints—some­thing to do with the de­parted faith­ful who have al­ready ar­rived in Heaven; those still ex­pi­at­ing their sins in Pur­ga­tory, as well as the faith­ful still among the liv­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to Catholic cat­e­chism: “In this won­der­ful ex­change, the ho­li­ness of one prof­its oth­ers well beyond the harm that the sin of one could cause oth­ers. Thus re­course to the com­mu­nion of saints lets the con­trite sin­ner be more promptly and ef­fi­ca­ciously pu­ri­fied of the pun­ish­ments for sin.”

Which brings me to the ques­tion of re­course for the des­e­cra­tion of the rest­ing place of those souls. Lately there seems to be quite a lot of this go­ing on, which is not to say it’s any­thing new. Decades ago the calypsonian Mighty Mighty cap­tured the theme du jour in “Mak­ing Bread on de Dead.”

The song was in­spired by a par­tic­u­lar Angli­can priest who of­ten dared his con­gre­ga­tion to chal­lenge him. In a most con­tro­ver­sial move, he had sold a por­tion of the church ceme­tery for com­mer­cial pur­poses, with­out protest.

How­ever, much has been said about the des­e­cra­tion of the Hos­pi­tal Road ceme­tery in Castries, where the dead shared their rest­ing place with squat­ters. At the Choc ceme­tery graves are of­ten dug months after a burial to make room for new oc­cu­pants. For the Castries City Coun­cil, un­der whose purview the ceme­tery falls, it’s just business.

It was brought to our at­ten­tion this week that at least five tombs at the Choc Ceme­tery were des­e­crated by road work­ers in the process of con­struc­tion of an ac­cess there. By all ac­counts, fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of the road the bro­ken tombs were left un­re­paired.

One of the ag­grieved is Michelle Cal­len­der, a long-time em­ployee of the STAR. On May 13 this year she and her fam­ily laid Michelle’s fa­ther to rest in a tomb for which they paid $8,050. An ad­di­tional $300 was paid to the Castries City Coun­cil to have it cast.

Last week a friend no­ti­fied the Cal­len­der fam­ily that the tomb had been dam­aged. “My niece then called my sis­ter on Sun­day to in­form her, and my sis­ter in turn told me about the sit­u­a­tion,” Michelle re­called. “On Mon­day morn­ing I called CCC to find out whom I should speak to about the sit­u­a­tion. I was given a num­ber to call and di­rected to speak to Arthur, the ceme­tery’s man­ager.” It took sev­eral failed at­tempts be­fore Michelle fi­nally con­tacted him. “I was told by Arthur that he was aware of the dam­age to the tomb, but the CCC was not re­spon­si­ble. He blamed the road con­trac­tor. He added that the CCC had been en­coun­ter­ing dif­fi­culty in its at­tempts to reach him.”

Arthur gave Michelle a num­ber that he said was the con­trac­tor’s.

Although quite angry and dis­gusted by the ap­par­ent lack of in­ter­est on the part of the CCC rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Cal­len­der tried to reach the con­trac­tor via the num­ber Arthur had pro­vided.

“When I fi­nally got him, he sounded most an­noyed that I was call­ing about the tomb,” Michelle told me. “He said there was noth­ing he could do un­til next week or so.” A frus­trated Cal­len­der again con­tacted the ceme­tery’s man­ager to in­form him of what the con­trac­tor had said.

On Mon­day, Michelle Cal­len­der vis­ited the grave site. “I was ab­so­lutely shocked at what I saw,” she said. “There was a huge hole in the tomb, slabs were miss­ing and the inside was full of mud and de­bris. My heart sank. I can­not put in words the pain and anger I ex­pe­ri­enced. This was sup­posed to be my dad’s fi­nal rest­ing place. It was our fi­nal act on be­half of a fa­ther that I loved dearly. What kind of hu­man be­ing would treat another per­son’s tomb in such a cal­lous fash­ion?”

As me­dia con­scious as she is, Cal­len­der con­tacted DBS. After her in­ter­view aired, “a gen­tle­man con­tacted me to say his boss had asked him to re­pair the tomb. So I said okay, in­sist­ing that he re­move the mud and de­bris in the process.” She was about to leave when a CHOICE TV rep­re­sen­ta­tive ar­rived at the scene and asked for an in­ter­view. At this point, said Cal­len­der, “the in­di­vid­ual charged with fix­ing the tomb be­came ag­i­tated. He started car­ry­ing on and ask­ing why I was still com­plain­ing after they had promised to fix the tomb.” Arthur showed up, but said noth­ing. How­ever, that same evening dur­ing an in­ter­view on CHOICE News Now, he was heard say­ing he saw no rea­son Michelle Cal­len­der should have re­acted as she had. Ev­i­dently Arthur is more ac­cus­tomed to deal­ing with peo­ple who be­have like sheep in cir­cum­stances that call for wolf be­hav­ior.

The tomb has since been re­sealed. But Michelle Cal­len­der has de­clared her in­ten­tion to de­mand an apol­ogy from the Mayor of Castries for all she has been through and on be­half of her fa­ther who is in no po­si­tion to stand up for his rights.

“What peo­ple don’t get,” she said fi­nally, “is that even the dead de­serve re­spect. We live in a civ­i­lized Christian so­ci­ety that talks the good talk but ne­glects to walk the walk. It’s bad enough that peo­ple are treated as if we did not have the right to com­plain, but our at­ti­tude to the dead is even worse!”

A dis­traught Michelle Cal­len­der in­spects her fa­ther’s gravesite.

(Photo cour­tesy Pete Nin­valle/Stlu­ci­a­

The dam­aged tomb that orig­i­nally cost the fam­ily nearly EC$10,000.

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