Canon’s swansong

Bittersweet moment for retiring house chaplain

After 28 years as chaplain of the House of Assembly, Canon Ivan Harewood has called it a day. The clergyman, who is reportedly the second longest serving in the Lower House, performed his religious duties for the final time at the start of last Tuesday’s sitting.

The 77-year-old later told Barbados TODAY it was a bittersweet moment.

“Twenty-eight years is a long time, and I really enjoyed being there. Even though it is not a major part of what happens, you have to prepare spiritually and emotionally for it; so I felt perhaps I could take a rest from that.

Canon Ivan Harewood has spent 28 years as chaplain  of the House of Assembly.
Canon Ivan Harewood has spent 28 years as chaplain
of the House of Assembly.

“I’ve had such a good time doing it, I thought it might be an opportunity to give another person the joy of the experiences that I’ve had and that I treasure.”

The Anglican priest said that during his time in the House he set out to put everyone at ease, and to let them know he was available.

Canon Harewood in the pulpit.
Canon Harewood in the pulpit.
Canon Harewood speaking with Governor General Elliott Belgrave.
Canon Harewood speaking with Governor General Elliott Belgrave.

“I think I brought me to the House: my lifestyle, my approach to matters, the dignity of the office. And, therefore, everyone in the House, not only the elected members but all the staff in Parliament as well, and the people who work in the yard, and the policemen, I felt a responsibility for,” Harewood explained.

Asked about his next step, he said that answer was easy.

“I was formerly the rector of Christ Church [Parish Church], which was a demanding responsibility, and I retired from that; and my son, who is also a priest, is the rector of St Barnabas; so now I work assisting my son. So we function as a team, except he is now the stronger man in the team; but that works well,” the canon said.

Yesterday, Speaker of the House Michael Carrington led off tributes to the clergyman, who has been present at the start of almost every sitting.

“Since I took up this post in 2008, he has been with us on almost every occasion, guiding us through the spiritual aspects of what we do here; and I just want to put on record our very sincere appreciation for the job he has been doing and also his general advice on a number of things,” Carrington said.

Speaking on behalf of the Government, Minister of Health John Boyce said the canon’s quiet manner had served him well.

“Certainly, Father Harewood gives you the feeling of absolute calm whenever he presents to you and, of course, he has been blessed with a voice that is an asset to anyone who is looking to become a priest,” Boyce said.

Leader of the Opposition Mia Mottley, the parliamentary representative for the religious leader, recalled knowing him for the majority of her life. She said Harewood had served the House with “honour” and “absolute distinction”.

“I have been impressed with him; not only [because] of his words from the pulpit or from his prayers in this chamber; but Canon Harewood has always exhibited a dignity and provided a calm assurance that nothing could go so wrong as we confront life, once you had that bearing and that faith that he exhibited through his manner and his demeanour,” Mottley said.

“I feel that the absence of Canon Harewood at the commencement of the proceedings will be a loss, and it will be a loss to us because he reflects the best of what we believe that Barbados and Barbadians ought to be.”

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