Anglicans celebrate life, ministry of former Archbishop
Front Page
December 7, 2012
Anglicans celebrate life, ministry of former Archbishop

The life and ministry of former Archbishop of the West Indies, the Most Reverend Sir George Cuthbert Manning Woodroffe, was celebrated this week, as family members and members of the clergy paid their final respects during his funeral.{{more}}

Woodroffe, the first indigenous Archbishop of the province, was laid to rest in the yard of the St George’s Cathedral in Kingstown, on Wednesday, six days after passing away at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.

He was 94 years old.

During the commendation, current archbishop of the West Indies Dr John Holder reflected on the life of his mentor and the effect his death had on persons whom he served while he lived and worked in Barbados.

“Archbishop was a caring person. This reflected in his relationship with parishioners, his students, his clergy, his fellow bishops and others.

“I had the opportunity of being associated and working with him in many capacities as rector in Barbados; as a bishop and a student of Codrington College where he served as chairman.

“I was readily accepted by Bishop Woodroffe while at Codrington as a student. He ensured… that all students who were in need got an abundance of prayers, a lot of encouragement and a little pocket money.

“….It was because of what he did then, that I am here today, as Bishop of Barbados and Archbishop of the West Indies, and for his kindness, and in many ways his vision, I am grateful.”

Holder related that on hearing of his death, many residents of Barbados called the radio stations, to express their condolences and share their fond and lasting memories of him.

Holder regarded Woodroffe as a great teacher and pastor, and most of all, a great Christian, who was ready to listen, which made him easy to relate to during his ministry.

“He was the grace that led us to a new era, and all of us who followed him are thankful for his ministry and leadership in this service.

“His humble approach to life and ministry made him very easy to talk to; he was ready to listen, ready to advise, and to guide.

The Right Reverend Leopold Friday, Bishop of the Diocese of the Windward Islands, who delivered the homily, said that like the psalmist David, Woodroffe believed God was a God of mercy and compassion, and also a God of order.

Like David, Friday said, Woodroffe was concerned about others and their relationship with God, and recognized that a spiritual relationship with God was central to life, a belief which was expressed not only inwardly, but through the relationship he had with others.

“As Bishop of the Diocese of the Windward Islands, he saw this clergy as his own sons, and sought to relate to them

as a father. He was one who always sought to resolve matters in a careful, calm and peaceful way; he was a man of

great diligence and care,” Friday said.

“Thus, being ever conscious of his own humanness, mortality and dependence on God, he was a man of deep devotion and prayer; he was a man of great humour and humility; he never forgot his humble beginnings and welcomed and embraced all; those who sat on the thrones, and those who had no bed to lay their heads,” he added.

Friday further stated that despite the challenges Woodroffe faced in his ministry, which came at a time of cultural and spiritual awakenings, he had the assurance that God’s grace and love was his, an assurance he had up to his death.

“He believed that our journey in life is one in preparation for death, not that we are to be cold and sombre, hard and fast or overtly pious. No. Rather, he believed that we are called to enjoy life to the fullest, to use the gifts that God had bestowed on us to its fullest, remembering always that we are to do so in accordance to God’s purposes, and that this world belongs to God.

“George Cuthbert Manning was called by God to be deacon, priest, bishop and archbishop. He experienced the abundance and generosity of God’s kindness and mercy, which he could not keep to himself, but sought to share with others.

“The diocese and province has lost a wise man of God, a holy man, a saint.”

Wednesday’s funeral service began with a procession through Kingstown to the cathedral, where a number of public officials, including Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, members of parliament, local and regional clergy, offered condolences to Woodroffe’s widow Eileen and children Andrew and Paula.

Also in attendance were students and faculty of the Bishops College Kingstown, some of them wearing Woodroffe House T-shirts. (JJ)