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RC priest found dead in church
Roman Catholic priest Fr Henry Charles was found dead yesterday morning at St Mary’s RC Church, St James. Charles, 68, is said to have suffered a heart attack. His body was found in his study by parishioners who were waiting for him to officiate at a funeral service scheduled for 10 am.
RC Archbishop Joseph Harris said the news of Charles’ death came as a great shock. “I have not seen the report but I believe he died from a heart attack,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday after visiting the church. He said when time passed and Charles did not come downstairs for the funeral, people went looking for him and found him dead in his study.
“I was with him and a group of people last night (Monday) and he looked a bit tired but OK,” Harris said. “It was a big shock when I got the call this morning (yesterday).” He said Charles was one of the senior priests and described him as a great thinker and a provider of sound advice.
Charles, a former T&T Guardian columnist, was the parish priest of the church for about five years. He was appointed chairman of the Integrity Commission in 2009 but resigned a few days later, amidst accusations of plagiarism. His letter of resignation to President George Maxwell Richards said the canon law of the church prevented him from holding the post.
Harris said Charles was instrumental in plans to rebuild the church this year. “He was doing well...His death is a great loss to all of us,” Harris said. Harris said Charles thought a lot about the church and how it presented itself and oftentimes depended on him for his ideas.
He said, “He was nice human being and that is more important for all of us and therefore his loss will be greatly felt.” Charles’ only sister lives in England and is expected to return for his funeral, which is scheduled for next week.
More on Fr Charles
Born on January 9, 1944, he was ordained on June 27, 1971 by Archbishop Anthony Pantin. He attended St Mary’s College where he won an island scholarship. Charles attended University College, Dublin, where he did an honours degree in classics (Greek and Latin), with a minor in philosophy. He also attended the Gregorian University, Rome.
Charles held a master’s in ethics from Harvard Divinity School and a PhD in ethics from Yale Graduate School. In addition to being a priest, Charles was a qualified lawyer, with a law degree from the George Washington University in the United States and an LEM from the University of London. Charles has two brothers, one of whom is also a priest—Fr Herbert Charles, of St Patrick’s parish, Newtown, Port-of-Spain.
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