11. Memories of 50 Years Ago
Resources > Parish archives > 50th Anniversary Magazine
1952 January: Father McHale reported on his visit to Cayman, 6-16 January, 1952. But this was not his first visit, since Larissa and Arthur Webb have vivid memories of his welcome, but unannounced visits.
Much of the original antagonism toward Catholics seemed to have disappeared by 1952 as Father McHale wrote: "People are more accustomed to me and I am tolerated."
Indeed, the Webbs remember that not everyone liked the Catholic Church and certainly not every Catholic and not every Jamaican Catholic, was tolerated. Young boys would often pick fights with some of the Webbs, just because they were Catholic! But with five brothers and two nephews, young Arthur and his siblings were more than able to defend themselves. Still, there was some ridicule for being Catholic.
Certainly things have come a long way in 50 years, thank God!
But just getting here was a chore in those days was a chore. Father McHale got word from Father Martin on 27 December to go to Cayman. Passage aboard the vessel Caymania had to be booked by 31 December. "It is not a luxury liner, but it is not bad," he commented once on board.
The vessel left Kingston 10.20 am, 6 January. Father got sick at lunchtime, but noted he had "Cabin alone. D.G. (Deo Gratias) Slept, improved." But he felt dizzy later and stayed in his berth almost all day on the 7th. The vessel passed Cayman Brac, where five more passengers were picked up from the Lanna, which was stuck on a reef. Father ate nothing: "Orange juice, very miserable, head and stomach, nausea."
The Caymania anchored at George Town at 3.00 am, coming in to dock around 7.00 am on 8th January. "Mr. Ernest Panton had me sign a paper twice and I got to Capt. Ben Grainger’s by taxi and went to bed." On 9 January Father got a return ticket by plane and turned in the boat ticket, losing 10/- on the refund.
He held "evening class" on that same date and two persons were present. But Father notes that he also "talked religion with Capt. Ben and W. DaCosta." On several mornings, only one person, referred to as Jennings, was present. On 11 January, the word had spread that a priest was on island. Thirty people attended evening class: "Small boys many." On that same date, Father "tacked up pictures in church" and "fixed step of church" the next day, but he doesn’t say where this was.
Father McHale had brought with him "a lantern and slides" and film. Did he use these for his evening lectures? After one evening he wrote, "Coloured pictures with small lantern very good." On another date he wrote, "In evening I had Fatima picture and Peter picture. Radiophone worked all right. About 40 present in the hall and many outside."
On 15 January he touches on numerous subjects. The first: "After Mass I baptised Mrs. Lorrisa Webb and her infant." That was Mrs. Webb who had married Arthur Webb and the infant was Deanna Marie, who is now the Director of Social Services for the Cayman Islands government.
The Bishop intends to acquire land, start a school, get sisters and a permanent priest here, Father McHale continued in this notes: "I will work on the land problem." Much of his report concerned various parcels of land, mostly in the Mary Street area. He doesn’t wantthe church on Airport Road: "Too wet and rocky." He rejects another site:"The North side (is not) for me. I don’t feel like seeing Mrs. Anderson about land in the central part of town." He also noted that at that time, whites and blacks lived in separate parts of town (Mary Street and off Shedden Road) so he wanted a location somewhere in between.
The Bishop had given Father McHale 40 pounds for his trip. The boat ticket was 10.0.6, (but the plane fare is not stated). He paid 8.10.0 for eight and half days stay at with the Graingers. Hall rent paid to W. Nixon was 2.12.0. He mentions that there were dances in the Town Hall and Nixon’s Hall the night before he left, probably in conjunction with a visit of the HMS Sparrow?
3 June 1952: Father McHale arrives in Georgetown by plane from Palisadoes Airport. Paid two pounds eight shillings for 58 pounds excess baggage. Went to Capt. Grainger’s. Three adults, two children at instructions. "Mosquitoes bad." W. Nixon raises rental of (dance) hall from 6/- to 10/- per day.
5 June 1952: In his diary, Father McHale writes that Mrs. Grainger says all colours attend same school and eleven out of twelve Caymanian children are able to pay for an education.