Rev. Ian Ernest

MBC announced in its 1930 News Bulletin of Sunday 19 December 2010 the sad news of the demise of Venerable Gerald Ernest, father of Mgr Ian Ernest, the Bishop of Mauritius and Archbishop of the Indian Ocean Province. He was laid to rest at St. John’s Churchyard, Reduit at 1000 hours on Monday 20 December 2010.
I would like to pay tribute to this great Mauritian who has dedicated a large chunk of his ninety years to a noble cause, that of service to his nation. He studied in Mauritius and in England before being appointed priest at St James’s Cathedral, where I had accompanied The Reverend Peter Challen, my guest and friend from England to lead a Sunday morning mass a couple of years ago.
To-day we boast of a proud literacy rate, universal free education, of our manpower as our best resource, world-class education and our welfare state. At the same time, let us not forget that the first seeds of education and social welfare were sown by our forefathers. Reverend Gerald Ernest forms part of the Club of those visionaries like Jean Lebrun, Right Rev. Bishop Ryan and Dr. Livingstone who, after the British conquest of Isle de France, devoted their lives to educate the liberated slaves and indentured labourers.
The first Protestant pioneers like Jean Lebrun set up charity schools and a convent which was later converted to an Old People’s Home and the Powder Mill asylum for leprosy inmates. Their concern was to save the soul of the poor. They campaigned and brought to Mauritius priests who could deli
ver sermons in French and in at least 4 of the 8 different languages spoken by Indian Immigrants. The number of services slowly increased and a floating church was made available to the sailors and chaplains were deployed during weekdays to attend to the sick in hospitals and the vagrant depot.
The flame was passed to Reverend Ernest who was really focused and dedicated in all he did and who, during his time of service, created the St. Barnabas College, now known as Rodrigues College, in keeping with the policy of his predecessors. Reverend Edward Ernest was also responsible for the Anglican convents between 1961 and 1970 and has served in nearly all the parishes of Mauritius.
Thank you very much Reverend Ernest for what you have done to early Mauritius in your fulfilled priestly life. I can safely say that your church and the world need you but the Good Lord who has called you to himself knows why He has done so. God of mercies and Giver of comfort, kindly console all who mourn Reverend Ernest. May they all know the consolation of your love and peace.