MONTEGO BAY — Anglican Dean for Westmoreland and President of its Lay Magistrates’ Association, the Rev Canon Hartley Perrin, was recently honoured for outstanding service to the parish by the Westmoreland Heritage Week Committee, and accorded the title of ‘Local Hero’ in the field of religion.
He was among seven ‘local heroes and heroines’ who have made outstanding contributions to the development of the parish, and were showered with accolades and awards at the parish’s National Heroes’ Day Salute in Norman Square, Savanna-La-Mar.
More widely known and referred to as ‘Father Perrin’, by both the young and older members of communities in western Jamaica, he is regarded as the consummate community worker/servant who has impacted hundreds of lives in Petersfield, Darliston and adjoining communities, for over 30 years.
Rev. Perrin was born in Petersfield, the product of a single-parent household and upbringing, his mother being a nurse and his father visiting occasionally. He attended a private preparatory school, where he gained a scholarship to Manning’s High School. After five years of high school, he successfully sat the GCE examination which qualified him to work as a pre-trained teacher at Petersfield Primary and Infant School for four years.
During this period, he decided to enter the priesthood. He enlisted at the United Theological College of the West Indies (UTCWI), where he underwent four years of intense preparations for his calling.
“That calling on my life is still very current, and I would not want to change to be anything else than what I am right now- a priest,” he confirmed.
When Father Perrin graduated from the UTCWI and the University of the West Indies (UWI) in 1978, he was assigned to St. Mary’s Church, Molynes Road, Kingston, for a year as Curate. Experiencing the ‘bright lights’ of Kingston, he began feeling comfortable, convincing himself that he was going to be in the city for a long time. But, Bishop Herbert Dacosta Edmondson, wanting to fill vacancies in the Diocese, had different ideas.
"He never knew that I was from Westmoreland, and so he just matched names with faces without doing due diligence. But, by the time he found out, he requested of me if I wanted to change, it would be OK … I chose to go back home to Westmoreland instead of Rural Hill in St. Thomas, to face whatever challenges awaited me there,” Father Perrin told JIS News.
“When I returned to Westmoreland, I told myself that having being swept away from the bright lights, I would come to the dark area and spend a year or two and then make my way back to the lights,” he added. That “year or two” has now gone over 32 years and counting, during which he has been able to serve his people and gain their respect and support, in return.
"I have been enjoying the journey, and truly making inroads in transforming lives in my area of service,” he pointed out.
Since 1979, he has been Rector of the Petersfield/Darliston Cure, which consists of five churches. His preaching and teaching skills have been well defined and enhanced, having been called to preach in the United States, Canada, Africa and the Caribbean.
He is employed with the Ministry of Education as a Work Experience Officer connected to the Petersfield High School and has, on more than one occasion, been utilized by the ministry to assist in the training of board chairmen.
For his significant work in the church and community, he was appointed a Canon of the Cathedral Chapter in Spanish Town, by the Diocese of Jamaica in 2008.
Father Perrin is currently the chairman of several school boards in Westmoreland, and has held several other positions of leadership in the parish, including Past President of the Lions Club of Savanna-La-Mar, Station Pastor for the Whithorn Police Station, Vice Chairman of the Westmoreland Parish Health Committee, Member of the Governor General’s Committee for Excellence and Chairman of the board of Clifton Boys’ Home.
He has been recognized by various sectors, including the Rotary Club of Savanna-La-Mar, for long and dedicated service to the community, in May 2003; the Prime Minister’s Medal of Appreciation for service to Jamaica, June 2003; and the Westmoreland Home Coming 2004, for service in the field of religion.
Looking back at what he has been able to accomplish, Father Perrin feels satisfied that he has impacted countless lives, and has accomplished his mandate to serve humanity and Westmoreland.
"I feel proud of my service to the people, especially when I see those whose lives I have been able to touch, both young and older ones, holding their own in society and making great contributions to the enhancement and empowerment of those around them, for me it is mission accomplished,” Father Perrin told JIS News.
By Glenis Rose, JIS Regional Office