Newly appointed deacons during their ordination at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.

He is best known as a judge who has presided over some tough criminal cases in the High Court, but yesterday Justice Malcolm Holdip answered the call to the religious life and was ordained as a permanent deacon in the Roman Catholic church.

Justice Holdip, who currently sits in the Court of Appeal, was among 15 new deacons who were ordained by Archbishop Jason Gordon at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port-of-Spain.

After the ceremony, reflecting on the five years of study that preceded his new role as a minister of religion, Holdip said: “I feel very elated that the journey has been won. I can feel that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

He said he is not too worried at the prospect of balancing his service as a judicial officer with the pastoral work he will now be called upon to do.

“I wouldn’t call it a challenge, it’s a new awareness of my spiritual journey. Regarding balancing work and religion, both of them have always been interrelated. Work is a form of worship and worship has always been a form of work,” he said.

“It’s going to take up a lot of time, but it is something to which I’ve grown accustomed.”

Holdip, a member of Holy Family RC Church parish in Mt Lambert, said he was encouraged to become a deacon by the late Bishop Vincent Darius of Grenada, his former parish priest Fr Cornelius Phillip and members of his church community.

A widower and father of three, he has been active as a lay minister in the Roman Catholic church for many years. With his elevation to deacon, he has taken on the first of three ranks of the clerical state in Catholicism—deacon, priest and bishop.

A release from the Port-of-Spain Archdiocese issues ahead of yesterday’s ordinations explained that usually before a man is ordained to the priesthood, he is ordained to the transitional diaconate for a short period of time.

“The permanent diaconate, however, is the stable vocation to which men are called to serve Christ and His Church. Though most permanent deacons are married men with families, single or widowed men are also eligible for the vocation of the permanent diaconate. If a man is single at the moment of ordination, he is obligated to take a vow of celibacy.

“Liturgically, the deacons exercise pastoral leadership in communion with a priest in a parish in the care for the people of a parish. As such, they prepare and perform the sacramental duties of baptism and marriages, assist the priest at the altar in the celebration of the Eucharist, administer viaticum to the dying, conduct funerals and lead the community in prayer and worship.

“Permanent deacons, however, do not celebrate Holy Mass nor celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession).”

Justice Holdip has held many prominent legal positions across the Caribbean. He served as Director of Public Prosecutions in St Kitts and Nevis from 1991 to 1994 and served in the same position in Grenada from 1997 to 1999.

He was also General Counsel of the National Bank Group of Companies in St Kitts and Nevis, was a member of the legal team of John Benjamin and Company in Anguilla and also held the prestigious position of President of the Bar Association.

He had been happily married to Dianne Marshall-Holdip, a former assistant registrar at the Hugh Wooding Law School and cultural activist, for 34 years until her death in November 2017.