“My Story” Chapter 23

“My Story” – by Randall Butisingh.

(Reminiscences during my life beginning 1914)


Canon William Granville Burgan, after serving for twenty one years at Buxton’s St. Augustine’s Anglican Parish, which he called his coming of age, was transferred to another parish at Plaisance Village. He left with me a few books in the Urdu language which were left there by his predecessor Father Persaud; also a book on Islam, and the six schools of Hindu philosophy.  I have kept, until now, the Urdu prayer book and the one on Urdu grammar which I prized very much and used often as a book of reference…

His successor was a young bachelor, Rupert Taylor, with whom I ingratiated myself and found favour in his eyes.  I kept near to him and with the help of my pupils got the vicarage cleaned and polished and the window panes replaced on the church windows.  I was still Lay Reader, and now I was also financial secretary and member of the vestry.  I was as he puts it, his guide, philosopher and friend.

He was a man of lavish hospitality and he held parties at the vicarage for the elite.  I would be there serving him and his friends, while he wined and dined , and helping to tidy up when they leave.  A priest’s pay was not that much, but he told me he could not have held those parties, if he had not been getting money from home in Grenada.  Later, I found out that this was not quite true.

We had one thing in common.  We were both prolific letter writers to the press, but while I had to read, correct and read again to see that I made no grammatical errors or errors in spelling, sometimes using the dictionary to see if the word has the right connotation. He would type his letter quickly and without reading them, would fold them, put them in envelopes and dispatch them.

My writings were well received by the editor of The Graphic, a daily newspaper, who acknowledged my contributions by letter and invited me for a chat and payment for my articles.  I have most of my writings preserved.  These, I intended to put together for publication at some time.

I became very much involved in church work at this time.  I was lay reader doing matins and evensong, burying the dead and holding cottage meetings, though I did not wholly agree with its teachings.  There was never true fellowship among its members.  As member of one body, they were not all acquainted with one another.  They would rub shoulders with one another at the altar rail, drink from the one cup, but may not know one another.  I wondered why Anglo Catholics were the only Christians who drank from the same cup.  I knew many members did not like the practice.  They thought it unhygienic.  I knew of members who would try to get front seat so that they could get the first sip,  One young lady told me that after sipping after scores had sipped, went outside and spat the wine out.  I personally used to keep my communion to the minimum, three times a year, once at Easter which was compulsory.  As a lay reader, this was noted by the priest, who without calling my name hinted it in a sermon.  At one time, I could not hold my position as vestryman because one vindictive member noted that I had only two communions recorded on my card.  The acting priest was disappointed because I was a good worker, but that was the rule.

For one thing I could not accept the doctrine of transubstantiation.  I accepted that the Holy Communion was symbolic of the body and blood of our Lord who made the extreme sacrifice.  Another I failed to accept was that the priest could perform absolution whether he was a bad person or not.

Another practice, I failed to agree with was members spying on the lives of people, reporting them and barring them from Holy Communion; also members taking simple matters to court which could have been settled by the priest or the brethren.


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