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Turning of the Sod Ceremony Highlights

The preparation for this occasion – Turning of the Sod, was so much like preparing for our annual fund-raiser – Fair and Tea Party, i.e. getting things ready……

The occasion was preceded with a meeting with Bishop Rivas, Sr. Antoinette Dickie O. Carm., Superior General of the Corpus Christi Carmelites, other Corpus Christi Carmelite members of the Board of Directors, and our Advisory Board Members (a few members were present).

The purpose of this meeting was to re-introduce the Board of Directors who remain primary the Corpus Christi Carmelites since they have been sanctioned to manage the Institution a few years after its establishment.

This was re-visited at this time when we seek to obtain a new chairman for our Fr. Roberts St. Benedict’s Charity in Canada.

It is also a requirement for the establishment of the Institution as a registered charity in St. Vincent, W. I.

We now have to work to complete the Constitution for the Institution. This was emphasized by Bishop Rivas.

The programme was as follows:

  • OPENING PRAYER: The Most Rev. Coadjutor Archbishop Rivas (of Castries, St. Lucia), Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Kingstown, St. Vincent, W.I.
  • WELCOME: Gary Miller, resident of St. Benedict’s
  • OPENING REMARKS: Sr. Antoinette Dickie, O. Carm., Superior General of Corpus Christi Carmelites
  • ADDRESS: Hon. Montgomery Daniel, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and Parliamentary Representative for the North Windward Constituency (including Georgetown).
  • GENERAL REMARKS: Coadjutor Rev. Bishop Rivas
  • BLESSING, TURNING OF THE SOD, PLANTING OF A MEMORY TREE, SONG: This is day that the lord has made
  • VOTE OF THANKS: Sr. Nyra Anne O. Carm
  • CLOSING PRAYER: Fr. Pio Antonio, Delegate to Rev. Bishop Rivas
  • CLOSING SONG: Give thanks with a grateful heart
  • VIEWING OF THE PLAN: Master Plan, First and Ground Floor of one unit.

Extracts From Thank You by Sr. Nyra Anne O. Carm.

After recognizing those present, Sr. Nyra Anne went on to say the following:
“I stand here this afternoon with joy for our children, knowing that this Project has moved one step forward as the journey continues. It is now my pleasure to give thanks”.

“Bishop Rivas thanks for making it possible for this ceremony of the Turning of the Sod and the launching of the Centenary year of the Corpus Christi Carmelites to take place today.  Thanks for leading us with the opening prayer and your inspiring messages”.

Bishop Rivas dealt with the history of the Institution from the establishment by Fr. Roberts, the arrival of the Corpus Christi Carmelites to manager the Institution to its present stage of being still needed and the urgency for rebuilding to continue its services.

Prior to the blessing and the turning of the sod, Minette arrived on the scene.  She was greeted and a corsage pinned on her.

Bishop Rivas proceeded with the blessing, turning of the sod and planting a memory tree.

The song: “This is the Day that the Lord has made” and: “We are standing on Holy Ground” was sung.

The ceremony took place in the presence of approximately eighty (80) people.

“Sr. Antoinette Dickie, thank you for being present and sharing the routes of St. Benedict’s as we celebrate one hundred years (100) of existence and also turning of the sod as a sign that in the very near future our Project will begin”.

Sr. Antoinette also shared aspects of the commencement of the Institution.  She also mentioned about the great work done by Mrs. Minette Cowan for the Institution for many years.

Sr. Antoinette invited the crowd to sing: “We are standing on holy ground….”
A corsage was pinned on Sr. Antoinette after her speech. (This was a surprise - not on Program.

“I wish to thank Hon. Daniel for sending a representative to deliver his message”.

Hon. Daniel’s message was one of encouragement and assurance that his government is willing to ‘partner’ with institutions which cater for the needs of children – he focused mainly on the institutes for day nursery. (Hon. Daniel also lent us two (2) tents for the occasion).

“I now wish to embrace the opportunity to give thanks to the Government of St.Vincent and the Grenadines for allowing us waiver of the 5 % purchase tax.  I wish to add that we now fall under the category of searching for millions to rebuild our dear children’s home.  Hon. Daniel, I am sure will put in a good word to his Government for us”.

“To Mrs. Gisela Balcombe Nicholson and family, I say thank you for making this land available for the children.  Surely it was by Divine Providence”.

The land obtained is 119,987 sq ft (approx. 3 acres). It is in close proximity to our present Institution.  (I said by Divine Providence, because Mrs. Balcombe Nicholson was not selling any more land especially in this area.  Some people cannot understand the preference we have received from her.

“I must say a special work of thanks to Mr. Trevor Thompson, our architect and Mr. Simon Bailey our quantity surveyor, who have labored assiduously in preparing the ground work for this Project”.

We have on hand the drawings of the Master Plan for the land and the first and ground floor for one unit.

Thanks given to: Sr. Zita, our Superior of St. Vincent, and other religious and priest for their presence and support; Distinguished Guests.

In our midst was our Japanese volunteer who would be assisting us for the next two (2) years.  She arrived just in time to be present at the ceremony.

Our two (2) guitarists, our dear children on drums and Master Gary Miller, our resident with his special Welcome.

(Gary was applauded by the crowd. He really did very well with his short presentation of the welcome as follows:
“On behalf of Bishop Rivas, the Corpus Christ Carmelites, the Board of Management, and  our Care-givers, AND WE THE CHILDREN OF ST. BENEDICT’S!", (he extended his hands to the rest of the children of the Home who were present).

A few individuals were thanked.

Preparation of sandwiches, patties, preparing of the grounds, media, pictures, Master of ceremony, Emeritus Bishop Galt for closing Prayer.


“Any other persons who have contributed in any way towards today’s ceremony and who I may have forgotten, I say thanks”

Unmentioned were: Garifuna Bakery – loan of generator, Fr. Pio - Loan of P. A. System, Mrs. Colleen Da Briel (nee Tommy, St. V.), and Maggie, T’dad – Preparation of corsages.

“Miss Mary Szacik, Peace Corp volunteer, for preparing the programme and many more tasks performed – she will be leaving us soon, all the best Mary.  Mary will be very happy to know that Mr. Culbert James, Peace Corp Co-coordinator has given me the good news that we will have a replacement”.

“Although it has been said many times before, I must say thanks to Fr. Roberts who was a man of great vision and dynamism. In fact, he was a man before his time. We can say that he truly responded to the call of Jesus:

  • For I was hungry and you gave me food;
    I was thirsty and you gave me drink;
    I was a stranger and you made me welcome;
    Naked and you clothed me;
    Sick and you visited me;
    In prison and you came to see me.

“Today, as we continue the ministry which was a brain child of Fr. Roberts, we at St. Benedict’s challenge ourselves and say – The Children come First.”

Thanks to Mrs. Minette Cowan who has been a mother, a friend, a constant source of inspiration and an ambassador for St. Benedict’s over the many years.  In fact, she has encouraged all her relatives and associates to make us their pet project.”

“Thanks to our Board Members, both living and dead.”

“I am sorry that I could not have invited all those who have contributed in any to bring this project to this stage”

“I look forward to the grand opening of the new “State of the Arts” facilities. As you would have imagine many more dollars and cents are needed and I anticipate your generosity in realizing this goal."

“Please accept the contribution envelope which will be distributed along with a brochure later, for your generous contribution of your entire family”.

The envelop states: Centenary Year of the Congregation of Corpus Christi Carmelites, Please contribute a Donation towards the continuation of our Ministries – of which St. Benedict’s forms part of the works, therefore we took the opportunity to distribute these here to mark our Centenary year.

“Finally, I wish to take this opportunity to thank all our Benefactors, both living and dead, both overseas and locally, who have contributed to this Project and those who will continue to have this Project at heart by their generosity of time, talent and treasure.”

“We of this Institution will be thankful for the work to be spread for many more donors”.

“And last but not least, I wish to thanks Almighty God for today and for what has been and what will be.  I know that with His blessings, our plans will become a reality”.

"I now say to all, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, May God’s choicest blessings be with you and your family as we work together for the upliftment of His precious children”.

Viewing of the Plans and light refreshment followed on the grounds.

Priest, religious and a few associates who were present, proceeded to the Institution for lunch. This numbered approximately twenty-two (22) people.

The End

Back to work now for the continuity and completion of this mammoth Project for the children’s sake.