After guiding the St George’s Episcopal Anglican Church for 13 years, Father Ronald Branche will be leaving the Territory for Trinidad.
Father Branche arrived in the BVI in 2002, and from that time to now, he served not only the church, but the wider community in many ways. His tenure at the church’s rector is highlighted with many projects, developments and accomplishments, but Father Branche is accepting little of the credit.
During an interview with The Island Sun newspaper he was quick to correct when it was mentioned that “he accomplished.” In fact, Father Branche told the newspaper: “Most of the time people say I accomplished, but it is not Father Branche who accomplished this much; it’s Father Branche and the Church who worked together to achieve the work in this part of the vineyard.”
“Yes it comes down to the leader, but if I didn’t have the cooperation of the people it wouldn’t have happened, so I thank God for the good synergy,” he added.
As he prepares to leave, the Church Leader said that his successor will have to take some time to understand, and learn from and about his environment. Most of all he said the incoming Reverend will need to pull from his experience. “It took me a little while,” he disclosed as he referred to his arrival time as the honeymoon period.
Father Branche described the rebuilding of the church as one of high points of his time at St George’s. He spoke affectionately of the Church’s education pursuits: “The schools are in good hands. We should move from strength to strength.” He spoke fondly of the secondary school as he said: “That is the school that I assisted to introduce in 2004.” He confirmed that the school is growing and achieving much.
“Throughout our graduation period the children have done well,” Father Branche stated before noting that many past students have completed their first degrees, and returned home, while others are going on to their second degree.
When asked if he feels that there is more that could have been done he said: “You will always leave unfinished business…you are not going to complete everything you wanted to do.”
Nevertheless, one of the unfinished projects was the attempt by the BVI Christian Council to have a code of conduct/ethics during elections. He said that the process begun but was stalled during the 2003 elections and due to a break in communication between the Council and political entities nothing became of the proposal.
Father Branche is known for his humour so there were many laughs during his stay, but it was the sad times that he remembers most. In sharing some of them he said: “In ministry we have to experience the sad times. Some of my sad times include the death of Hon. Paul Wattley who was the architect during the church rebuilding, I worked closely with him.”
“Then there was the death of Reverend Lester Bowers who I was very close to. In fact his children were here with me, so was his wife; and his passing left this community devastated. In fact I remember being at the hospital and trying to console the families going through the trauma.”
Now, Father and Mrs. Branche return to their homeland Trinidad to their Parish church, and although, Father Branche has never ministered at that church he said that he is fond of it as it is where he was baptised, and married. With excitement he said “I Never worked there before, I am going to help organise — there is a parish hall to be built.”
The Church Leader shared that his parting is indeed bittersweet as there is so much that he will miss about the BVI: “I will miss the sunrises, the sunsets, the beautiful sea, and the whole setting that is so enthralling. I was glad to see these things day to day.”
His parting wish is for more to be done to stamp out childhood obesity, and to assist the Family Support Network in their work to support domestic violence victims. Father Branche said: “The Family Support Network is doing a tremendous job with little resources, and I wish that the government can see it fit to give them even a little more than they do so that they can give more help.”
“Obesity is another thing — too many of our children are overweight and that is going to be a health problem down the road…These are matters that we can’t sleep on or they will become bigger problems,” he added.
The St George’s congregation organized various events to demonstrate appreciation to Mr. and Mrs. Branche. The first was a concert/social evening that was held on 13 September. That event will be followed by a banquet on 19 September and a special service featuring the Rt Rev. E Ambrose Gumbs on 20 September.