Caribbean Cardinal Kelvin Felix dies at 91

Pope Francis at Mass for the repose of the souls cardinals and bishops who died this year in St Peters Basilica Nov 4 Credit Daniel Ibanez CNA Size Pope Francis offers a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for the repose of the souls of cardinals and bishops who died the previous year. | Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

Cardinal Kelvin Edward Felix died in his home on the island nation of St. Lucia on Thursday, the solemnity of Corpus Christi, at the age of 91.

The Dominican cardinal led the Archdiocese of Castries in St. Lucia from 1981 until his retirement in 2008. In 2014, in his first-ever consistory, Pope Francis made Felix a cardinal, the first from the Antilles.

After his retirement, Felix lived on the island nation of Dominica, where he assisted the local Church.

The Archdiocese of Castries said the retired archbishop moved to the Benedictine Abbey of Our Lady of the Assumption on St. Lucia in 2023 to receive medical care for health problems that required him to withdraw from most public functions.

“Frail from age and medical complications he eventually succumbed after days of constant prayer for the Church and for vocations to the priesthood and religious life,” the archdiocese said in a May 31 press release.

Felix’s funeral will be held at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Castries, on June 12. According to the Archdiocese of Castries, the cardinal’s wish was to be buried on the grounds of the cathedral of Dominica.

Pope Francis sent his condolences to the Catholics of the West Indies on Saturday, recalling Felix’s dedication to the education of young people and his contribution to the Church throughout the Caribbean.

Felix studied for the priesthood at seminaries in Dominica and Trinidad before being ordained a priest on April 8, 1956, for the Diocese of Roseau.

He later continued his education, receiving a diploma in adult education from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, and a master’s degree in sociology and anthropology from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

From 1967–1970, the priest studied sociology at the University of Bradford in England while serving the Caribbean community of the West Yorkshire region. His experience with the difficult economic conditions of his flock in Bradford led him to start the Bradford Credit Union, which still serves Antillean immigrants in the United Kingdom today. He received the Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II.

In the Caribbean, Felix taught at the regional seminary and was principal of St. Mary’s Academy in Dominica. He served as associate general secretary of the Caribbean Conference of Church and later as its president.

He was appointed metropolitan archbishop of the province of Castries by Pope John Paul II in 1981 and was president of the Antilles bishops’ conference for six years, from 1991–1997.

As archbishop, Felix promoted the formation of priests, religious, and lay leaders, and was in charge of the organization of Pope John Paul II’s visit to St. Lucia in 1986.

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