Archdeacon retires in wake of allegations
A former Archdeacon in the Anglican Diocese of the Windward Islands has had his license revoked and can no longer function as a priest in the midst of accusations of gross misconduct.
This revelation came during the announcements at mass of the St George’s Cathedral in Kingstown on Sunday, November 7 and was made by the Rt Reverend Bishop of the Diocese of the Windward Islands, C. Leopold Friday.
The former priest in question is J. Everton Weekes who was ordained a deacon on December 21, 1976, entered the priesthood on August 7, 1977, and took up the role of Archdeacon in St Vincent and the Grenadines on January 1, 2014.
Bishop Friday told the congregation that he had received a complaint against the former Archdeacon which speaks of events said to have occurred in the mid 1980s when Weekes was serving as a priest in charge at Grace River Doree/St Paul’s Anglican Churches, St Lucia.
“Upon receipt of [the] complaint in writing, we forthwith invited the former Archdeacon Weekes to meet with us at Diocesan Office, Anglican Pastoral Centre, New Montrose, Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines to address the complaint on Monday 1st November, 2021. At the meeting, we presented former Archdeacon Weeks with a copy of the complaint which he read. We then asked him to say whether the contents of the complaint were true. He responded in the affirmative and we sought advice from the Diocesan Chancellor and former Archdeacon Weekes was asked to suspend all ministry immediately,” the statement from the Bishop, which was later provided to SEARCHLIGHT, said.
The Bishop said that Archdeacon Weekes attained the age of “compulsory retirement” on April 5, 2021 in accordance with Diocesan Regulations 24:10 which mandates that: “A Clergy person shall vacate his/her Office on the last day of the month in which he/she attains the age of seventy (70). A clergy person shall be eligible for appointment as Priest-In-Charge or Assistant Curate by the Bishop. Such appointment shall be at the pleasure of the Bishop.”
Bishop Friday indicated that, “Former Archdeacon Weekes has subsequently submitted a letter giving notice of his retirement with effect from 1st November, 2021 in which he also formally acknowledged the veracity of the complaint. Due to the very serious nature of the complaint and being a matter which is repugnant to the responsibilities and vows of a priest and which the Church regards as abhorrent and does not condone, we the Bishop of the Diocese of the Windward Islands revoked our General License with effect from November 1, 2021.”
This means that Weekes can no longer function as a priest of the Diocese.
The announcement ends, “As We continue to address this matter, We invite you to commit it to your prayers.”
SEARCHLIGHT was told that the statement will be circulated across all churches in the Diocese come Sunday, November 14.
According to the Constitution and Canons of the Church, a deacon/priest may be placed on trial before the Diocesan Court, if a prima facie case is made out upon enquiry by a Commission that an offence justiciable in the courts ecclesiastical has been committed.
This is in absence of admittance of an accusation.
Possible punishments include deprivation of office with suspension of all ministerial functions either permanently or for such period as the court shall determine.
All sentences of deprivation, the rules say, shall be published during divine service in the Cathedral of the Diocese in which the accused was resident at the time the offence was committed, and in the church where the accused served.