Ray Funk and Andrew Martin
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Fr Hildebrand Greene was like good wine—Harris
Celestial hymns like Hosea wafted across the august Mt St Benedict Church, St John’s Road, St Augustine, yesterday.
Occasion was the Eucharistic celebration and burial service for the late abbot Fr Hildebrand Greene. Among those who had gathered to pay their respects were Abbot John Pereira, Archbishop Fr Joseph Harris and Fr Clyde Harvey. They were joined by a Guyanese contingent led by Bishop of Georgetown, Guyana, Francis Alleyne and former Abbey boys including Joseph Berment-McDowald, Enrique Bonapart, Gary Matthews, Joseph Habib and Yunus Ali.
In eulogising Greene, Pereira said his mother had Greene “in her late 40s when she had almost closed up shop.” Asked to share his sentiments on Greene, Harris said he first met Greene as a student. “He taught me the liturgy. He was committed to inter-religious dialogue. He was like good wine. As he aged, he became more noble.”
Pausing to bless a medal for mourner John Abraham, Alleyne said, “Greene was larger than life. He was more than six foot. So we had to have a special coffin built for him. He was a great consoler. He was given to service to God.”
Having flown in from Pennsylvania, USA, Greene’s cousin Kathleen Siepel said: “He was beloved by all the family. His relatives in Ireland and Guyana are mourning him. I was involved with him and the work he did in Bartica. He would go into a room with convicts and encourage them to meditate. The tense atmosphere would get relaxed. He was truly a giant among men.” While reminiscing with Berment-McDowald, he remembered being guided spiritually and scholastically by a “consummate Caribbean citizen.”
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