Reverend Graeme Thomson, who for some six years said Mass at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in West Bay, is now concentrating on a new way to serve the Catholic Church – running the Cayman Islands based-I Am Company (IAMCO) charity.
Parishioners found out in the parish newsletter on 7 May that Mr. Thomson no longer had the authority to say Mass and administer sacraments in the Cayman Islands.
‘Cardinal Maida informed us and Fr. Graeme Thomson recently that, since he is no longer exercising parish ministry here in the Cayman Islands, that he would not need faculties and therefore they have been removed,’ the newsletter stated.
‘We need to be clear that this decision only affects ministry within the Catholic Church in the Cayman Islands,’ the newsletter continued. ‘Obviously Fr. Graeme retains his faculties in his home diocese in England.’
Mr. Thomson’s leaving the local Catholic church created some upset and speculation from parishioners, some of whom felt he was pushed out.
‘I can understand why people would think that,’ he said. ‘The Catholic Church is run autocratically. It’s never in 2,000 years been run democratically.’
Mr. Thomson stressed that he had not left the Catholic Church.
‘I am still with the Catholic Church,’ he said, ‘Instead having a full-time faculty at a church, I’m running a Catholic charity.
‘I’m moving along and doing a different thing now,’ he said. ‘In the Catholic Church, you don’t necessarily have to work in the church.’
Mr. Thomson noted that he said Mass in the UK on a visit earlier this month. He said he could and would say Mass here in Cayman if the Church ever found itself in a pinch and asked him to.
The Catholic Church in the Cayman Islands has been under the control of the diocese of Detroit (Michigan, US) since 2000.
‘I only intended to help them for one year, but I ended up helping them for six years,’ he said.
Mr. Thomson said he is in regular contact with his diocese bishop in England who approves of his work with IAMCO, which distributed more than $5 million of aid to the needy last year.
IAMCO was formed in 2004 and ended up playing a key role in the post-Hurricane Ivan reconstruction efforts in East End.
Mr. Thomson said his sideways shift into another role in the Catholic Church was really just a product of IAMCO’s success.
‘I never knew it would be so successful.’
There are now efforts to have IAMCO recognised as a charity overseas for tax purposes so that it can expand its efforts.
‘This is a hugely new and exciting time for me,’ he said.
Parish priest Reverend Michael Molnar acknowledged Mr. Thompson’s work with the church. ‘I want to express my thanks to Father Graeme for all that he has done in helping us out over the last six years and pray he will continue to minister to the needs of those in need,’ he said.
Mr. Molnar said Cardinal Maida has already assigned a new priest to the Cayman Islands parish.
A work permit application for Reverend Alex Crasta, who is from India, has been submitted, and it is hoped he can commence work in the parish 1 July.