The Reverend Gabriel Malzaire, a St. Lucian clergyman, was recently ordained as the ninth Roman Catholic bishop of Roseau at a ceremony attended by several regional ecclesiastical eminences, including Archbishops Kelvin Felix, a native of Dominica who serves in St. Lucia, and Everton Clark of Jamaica.
The appointment of Reverend Malzaire comes about a year after then bishop Edward Gilbert, an American, was ordained an Archbishop to serve Trinidad and Tobago. This is the first time in the 152-year-old history of the Roman Catholic Church in Dominica that a black clergyman has been appointed to lead the Catholic Church in Dominica.
Although Dominica has been predominantly Roman Catholic, the church, which at one time exercised a powerful influence on the Island has in recent years witnessed declining membership as other religious denominations continue to gain influence and members migrate to other countries.
For the recent ordination ceremony, the church had to resort to a telephone rally to raise funds as church finances have been adversely affected by the falling membership. Reverend Malzaire has indicated that he intends to concentrate on family life, young people and catechists as he seeks to provide guidance to the Roman Catholics in Dominica.