10. Few Priests Available for Cayman in 1950
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Prior to 1950 there was a shortage of priests in the West Indies and so it was not possible to send one to Grand Cayman regularly. In addition, transportation was difficult to arrange in those days and there were few Catholics on Grand Cayman. Nearly all of the estimated 10-15 Catholics had been transplanted to Cayman from elsewhere, many from Jamaica.
Bishop John J. McEleny, appointed as the first Bishop of Kingston, was given jurisdiction and responsibility for the Cayman Islands and Turks and Caicos. He sent Father William McHale, who came every few months by boat.
Lorissa Webb (nee Frankson) remembers coming to Grand Cayman herself by boat in June, 1949 from Kingston.
Here, she would marry Arthur Webb of the Webb family, who were Catholics from Jamaica. But there was no church and she and Mr. Arthur recalled that it was only when a priest showed up off the boat from Jamaica that you knew mass was going to take place.
The first official Mass according to church records was celebrated and the first Baptisms were performed on 8 September 1950 by visiting priests from Jamaica, Rev. Henry Martin SJ and Rev. Gladstone Wilson DPh, STD. Venue for Mass was the verandah of the home of Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Barrington Webb, father of Arthur and Billy Webb. Rev. Wilson represented the Bishop and was Superior of the Jesuits.
Mrs. Webb remembers that among those at the first mass was an Indian lady and a man named Joe or Jody Deslands, who may have been from the U.S. Also at mass was Ivan Palmer, a barber from Jamaica and Sybil Webb. Also, a woman from Trinidad who had married a "Mr. Christian" from West Bay attended and she eventually brought her children into the church. One of those children was Eugene Christian.
1951 - Mr. Ivor Smith, Commissioner of the Cayman Islands, confirmed in August that the Governor had appointed Father McHale to be a Marriage Officer, following the Bishop’s application.