Bishop Malzaire (right) performs final rites before Fr. Charles was laid to rest

Bishop of the Diocese of Roseau, His Lordship Gabriel Malzaire has hailed the work of Roman Catholic priest Fr. Charles Vermeulen C. Ss. R who died on December 4, 2016 at the age of 85.

Hundreds of mourners, including President of Dominica His Excellency Charles Savarin and his wife, priests from Dominica and overseas, religious brothers and sisters, deacons and Catholics from all over packed the island the Cathedral Chapel to bid farewell to him on Thursday afternoon.

In delivering his homily, Bishop Malzaire said that “there is a feeling in the air…a feeling of lost, a terminal feeling” at the death of Fr. Charles.

“We are gathered here to pay our last respects to a man of God, a priest, a pastor, a brother a friend,” he said.

Fr. Charles’ passing, he said, marked the end of an era, the end of the Belgium era in the diocese.

“You will recall the glory days when we had in this Diocese, Belgium missionaries in large numbers. In the Cathedral only we had up to 67 priests serving the pastoral area at the time. They played their part and played it well. Fr. Charles therefore represents the end of that era,” Bishop Malzaire stated.

He explained that the gospel reading used for the funeral (John chapter 12 versus 23-28) gives a positive insight as to what could otherwise be seen as morbid, and a real experience of loss.

“Fr. Charles can be likened to that single grain of wheat which falls into the ground and dies, yet, your knowledge of him would indicate that throughout his almost 60 years of ministry here in Dominica and other parts of the region, he allowed himself to be buried in works for the sake of the church and the sake of God’s kingdom. Such is the life of a missionary. Essentially, it is the journey of dying of life to bring life to others. No one can doubt that Fr. Charles did so in flying colors,” Bishop remarked.

Fr. Charles, he continued, was “a missionary and from all accounts a good one to0.”

Missionaries, Bishop Malzaire, said move on living behind them persons who have been given the message to preach.

“There are many things that we could learn from him…a church builder, he was builder of people, a pastor of souls, a builder of community, a generous man… he had a keen sense of diocese,” he noted.

According to him it is true to say that Fr. Charles was one priest who had a problem with retirement.

“No one would doubt his genuineness, he honestly loved people. He was energized by his ministry with and on behalf of God’s people,” Bishop Malzaire said.

Fr. Charles was laid to rest at the Roseau Roman Catholic cemetery on a reserved plot for the religious priests, brothers and sisters.

See photos from the funeral below.