Bishops & Clergy
The Right Reverend Claude Berkley
Growing up in Pembroke, Tobago, Bishop Claude Berkley’s early life centred around the Church, his Schools and his Community –
He understood responsibility and learnt that one simply did not, ever, say ‘No’ when the Church asked for something to be done. From a very early age he was a Server in the parish of St Mary’s – under Fr. Peter Willis and later Canon Cyril Grazette. Both these men, together with his parents and godmother, were the primary influences on his young life.
He graduated from Valsayn Teachers’ College, Trinidad in 1982 and returned to Tobago where he taught at Delaford Anglican, and then Pembroke Anglican Schools. He continued to teach at Sunday School and was a Lay Minister, assisting throughout the large dispersed parish. He was also Sports Master and a TTUTA official and was deeply involved in his Community’s Best Village programme. . He married his wife Dawn, also a teacher, in 1984, and has two daughters Safiya and Fayola.
Canon Grazette’s sudden death along with encouragement from Bishop Abdullah, prompted him to heed “the call to the Ministry” and he entered Codrington College in 1989. He graduated in 1991 with a B.A. - TheologyHons., earning the Colin & Pearl Kirton Prize for Doctrine. In 1992, he obtained the Diploma in Pastoral Studies, taking the St. Catherine & St. Mark’s Prize for Preaching. He was ordained as a Deacon on August 6th 1992, and served at St Patrick’s, and later St Mary’s. He was ordained as Priest on October 28th 1993.
Inspired by his success at Codrington, he applied for and was offered a one-year full scholarship for the M.Phil. Degree in Contextual Theology, at the University of Birmingham, England. While in the UK, he assisted at the parishes of St Barnabas in Worcester, and at St Edmund’s in Birmingham. His thesis, ‘Partnership in Mission’ explored the relationship between the USPG and the CPWI and earned him the Constance Naden Medal.
In November 2000, he returned to Tobago and served at St Patrick’s and St Mary’s, while teaching at his alma mater, Bishops High School. In 2001 he was elevated to the rank of Canon- stall of St Chad. In August 2002, he was transferred to All Saints in POS Trinidad and in 2009, he retired from teaching, so as to devote his time to the Church.
At the Synod of the Diocese in May 2010, Bishop Bess announced his intention to retire in December 2011. As a result, Bishop Claude was elected as Coadjutor Bishop in the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago in October 2010 and was consecrated as Bishop on March 17, 2011, at a ceremony at the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity in Port of Spain.
His integral involvement in all Diocesan and Provincial activities, (among them Chairman of the North West Region, Member of the Diocesan Council, Chairman of the Education Board, Chairman of the Capacity Building Committee, delegate to Provincial Synod and a member of the Provincial Standing Committee) points to an energetic and passionate Community Worker, striving to build and challenge the people of God into living practical Christian lives.
How does he do it all? In spite of his humility, Bishop Claude is a man with the stamina, spiritual strength and possibly a measure of stubbornness, to do all that has to be done and to do it well. To know his ‘guiding principle’ might help us to understand his strength and determination. Luke 9:62 - ‘no-one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God’.
He is particularly concerned about the Youth in this Diocese and recognizes that new tools and technologies are needed to create and embrace a more intimate relationship with the youth. He has advised that he will seek to develop new ministries that will relate real life to real vocation and so provide guidance, while inculcating the fact that Vocational Discernment is for anyone who wants to experience transformation in his or her life.
The experience gained by Bishop Claude in managing the Diocese’s Capacity Building Exercise provided him with a sound base for guiding the future direction of the Diocese. He has resolved to transform this Diocese into a New Wine Vineyard… “where the entire community of stewards, labourers, tenants and others know and love God in unity with each other; resulting in a high-quality abundant yield of New Wine.”
The Right Reverend Calvin W. Bess
The Right Reverend Calvin W. Bess was made a Deacon in the Anglican Church on December 21, 1965 and was ordained Priest at the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity on June, 11th, 1966. The Revd Fr. Bess served as the Assistant Curate of St. Andrew's Parish in Scarborough, Tobago from 1966-1968, after which he went on to the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity in the same capacity until 1969.
After his stint at the Cathedral, he returned to Tobago as the Priest in Charge of St. Patrick's Church in Mt. Pleasant. In 1972, Father Bess made his way back to Trinidad to become the Assistant to the Rector at St. Paul's Church in San Fernando until 1977. He then moved over to the Holy Cross Church in Marabella where he remained as the Priest in Charge for 23 years. During his tenure at Holy Cross, he was appointed to the Cathedral Chapter in the Stall of St. Patrick (1995).
It is often said that God has two dwellings, one in heaven and the other in a meek and thankful heart. We see this so evident in Bishop Bess. Thankful for the opportunity to serve both God and the Church in all humility, Canon Bess was exalted to the Bishopric when he was elected Coadjutor Bishop of Trinidad and Tobago on October 31, 2000; succeeding Bishop Rawle Douglin. He was consecrated on December 21, 2000 and enthroned on April 21, 2001.
Bishop Bess continues to live and serve God and others, in an attempt to leave the world and the Church a little better than he found them. We as the Body of Christ are grateful to have him as the 'Gardener' who helps make our souls blossom.
Bishop Rawle E. Douglin
The Right Reverend Rawle Ernest Douglin, descendant of Reverend P.H. Douglin (deceased), was ordained to the priesthood on March 13th 1960. He served at the parishes of St. Stephen’s, Princes Town (1963), The Good Shepherd, Tunapuna (1967) and All Saints’ Church, Newtown (1971). Father Douglin was made Canon in 1969, and became Dean and Rector of the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity in 1973, succeeding Dean A.T.P. Harrison. He also served as teacher to the Richmond Street Boys’ Anglican School (Christus Rex).
Dean Douglin succeeded to Bishopric of Trinidad and Tobago following the retirement of Bishop Clive Abdulah and his election as Coadjutor Bishop. He was consecrated as Bishop on September 29, 1992 and was later enthroned as Diocesan Bishop one year to that date.
Bishop Douglin has enjoyed a brilliant episcopacy, and his ability and influence continues to be felt and recognized throughout the diocese. He now serves as Priest-in-Charge of St. Peter's, Pointe-a-Pierre.
Bishop Clive O. Abdulah
Bishop Clive Orminston Abdulah B.A., S.T.M., F.C.P., D.MIN., D.D, was the first Native to be unanimously elected and Consecrated as Bishop of Trinidad & Tobago. This was at a most difficult time in our nation – the aftermath of the Black Power disturbances and a State of Emergency. His consecration on September 29, 1970 was very welcome, and one may still be able to recall that propitious day.
A graduate of Queen’s Royal College, Port of Spain, Abdulah then went on to the University of Pennsylvania, where he became the first Black President of the Canterbury Club, and graduated with a B.A in 1950. His thirst for knowledge did not end there, for he later went on to
Trinity College, Toronto to obtain his Bachelor’s Degree in Theology. It is said that “The foundation of every state is the education of its youth,” and Bishop Abdulah clearly illustrates this. He continued on, graduating with a Master's Degree in Theology in 1965, and the degree of Doctor in Ministry in 1993 from the Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, USA.
Bishop Abdulah’s career began with his ordination as deacon in Trinity College, Toronto for the Diocese of Jamaica, May 17, 1953. One year later, June 27, 1954, he was ordained Priest in the Parish Church of Kingston, Jamaica. While still in Jamaica, he served as Rector of Highgate, Rural Dean of St. Mary (1957-66), and Stony Hill (1966-70).
In 1984, Bishop Abdulah was made a Fellow of the College of Preceptors [F.C.P. (Honoris Causa)], London, England. He had the degree of Doctor of Divinity (Honoris Causa) conferred upon him at the Trinity College, Toronto in 1971. He is the only Bishop who from 1971 to 1975, has served as a member of the University Council, U.W.I., and as Chairman to the Government appointed Commission of Enquiry on Prison Reform from 1975 to 1980. Bishop Abdulah, not new to “first” experiences, is the first West Indian Bishop to serve on the Board of Directors of the Anglican Centre in Rome, 1992-95.
Given his long and illustrious career, Bishop Abdulah retired as Bishop of Trinidad & Tobago in 1991, and now serves as assistant priest in the parish of Holy Saviour, Curepe.