Stabroek News

Bishop Benedict Singh passes away

Bishop Benedict Singh

Bishop Benedict Singh has passed away at the age of 90.

A statement from the Roman Catholic Church in Guyana follows:

It is with great sadness that the Roman Catholic Church in Guyana announces the death of our beloved former bishop, Bishop Emeritus Benedict Ganesh Singh. He was admitted to a private hospital one week ago suffering from an unspecified illness.

He was 90 years old.

Bishop Singh, was born on December 2, 1927 in Lusignan, Demerara, Guyana. Son of Joseph Alexander and Matilda Amanda (Fredericks) Singh.

His ordination to the priesthood took place in Rome on December 7, 1954.

He obtained his Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Propaganda College in Rome in 1957. His thesis was “The Theory of Relevation in Hindu Philosophy and Religion”.

He returned to serve the church in Guyana in December 1957 when his first appointment was to Meadow Bank Church.

From 1958 for ten years he was in charge of the long coastal strip from Malgretout to the Essequibo Islands.

In 1968 he was named the first Guyanese-born Chancellor of the Diocese. In that capacity he acted as Vicar General and administered the diocese on several occasions during the absence of Bishop Guilly from the country.

On February 18, 1971, Pope Paul VI appointed Father Benedict Singh to be the Auxillary Bishop of Georgetown.

On Sunday 18 April 1971, in Brickdam Cathedral which was filled to its utmost capacity, Benedict Singh was led to the altar to be made the first Guyanese Bishop of the Roman Catholic Church his titles being Titular Bishop of Arsenaria and Auxillary Bishop of Georgetown. An August 12th 1972 he succeeded Bishop Guilly as Bishop of Georgetown, a position he held until his retirement on 10th November 2003.

Bishop Singh inherited the leadership of the church in Guyana at a time when everything in it seemed to revolve around the clergy. He however recognized the important role not only Guyanese clergy but also of lay people in the work of spreading the good news of salvation.

To this end he was responsible for the introduction of the Parish Lay Assistants (PLA) training programme very soon after he took over as Bishop. This took place not only on the coastland but also in the vast interior regions where lay people assumed more responsibility in the work of the church taking on tasks of instructing and organizing the local communities, even in the management of parishes and specialist areas such as heading the diocesan office for youth and religious education.

His tenure will also be most remembered for the courage and zeal he showed in the struggle for democracy justice and peace in Guyana during the country’s more turbulent years. 

He was the recipient Cacique Crown of Honour Government of Guyana in 1993.

Commenting on his death current Bishop Francis Alleyne said “I join with the Church and the Nation in giving God thanks for the life of Bishop Benedict Singh who died on Wednesday 12th September 2018 after a short illness.  Fifteen years ago I was appointed to succeed Bishop Singh as Bishop of Georgetown; to put on the mantle that he carried for thirty-two years.  During my time in office, as I have come to better understand and gain insight into the events and circumstance in the Church and in Guyana over the period of his tenure, I have come to very much appreciate and admire the quiet and formidable strength and resolve of this Churchman.  This Son of the Soil has served Church and Nation nobly.  May he rest in Peace “.

His funeral service will take place from Brickdam Cathedral on Monday, September 17 at 3.00pm

Eternal rest grant unto him, 0 Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Roman Catholic Diocese