In what is seen as a historical move, the new Custos of St. James, Bishop Conrad Pitkin, was also awarded the Order of Distinction, Commander class, following his installation as the number one citizen of the parish on Thursday, April 5, 2018.
Custos Pitkin’s appointment to the post late last year followed the resignation of his predecessor, businessman Ewen Corrodus, due to ill health, after eight-and-a-half years in office.
Governor General, Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen, headed the list of dignitaries that included Ministers of Government, Members of Parliament, Custodes of other parishes and Justices of the Peace, in attendance to witness the installation at the Montego Bay Convention Centre.
In his congratulatory address and presentation of the Grand Commission and the Magistrates’ Roll for St. James to Custos Pitkin, Sir Allen highlighted the time-sensitivity of the installation given the public scrutiny that has recently been forced onto St. James in its fight against crime and violence, adding that this type of leadership was needed now more than ever to provide moral direction for the citizens of the parish.
The Governor-General expressed his confidence as he formally presented the newly-instated Custos, pointing out that “he knows the parish very well, is a prominent and religious civic leader who is integrally involved in his own solving of the socio-economic and social problems”. The Governor-General reinforced that Custos Pitkin was not “entering uncharted territory because his efforts over the years to reach out to the grassroot communities to motivate and inspire young people, especially the unattached youth, has earned him the experience necessary to serve as their first citizen.”
The Governor-General urged Custos Pitkin to focus on the youth as they make up a large demographic of St. James.
Presenting remarks from the Prime Minister, MP for Northwestern St. James and Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang, acknowledged that the appointment of Bishop Pitkin as Custos of St. James would bring “great benefit to provide leadership and positive contribution to this community and this nation” being that he was a servant of the nation.
In his response, Custos Pitkin admitted that his appointment was “a humbling experience” and pledged to give of his best. He too expressed disappointment with the notorious activities spread across St. James and said this called for “decisive and transformational leadership, the kind of leadership that will instill hope in our citizens and at the same time create synergies that unite us as one people with a common goal; the goal to restore St. James to the place of peace and tranquility which we are accustomed to.”
Custos Pitkin remarked that, “a country’s most important resource is its people when they create a positive energy,” and as such, he extended an invitation for “all to join in partnership to unearth the solutions for a more peaceful and unified parish”, even as he also expressed optimism for the restoration of peace in a unified St. James.
As Custos, Bishop Pitkin supports the Governor-General on national and civic initiatives; promote the rule of law, public order and civic right; recommend the appointment of Justices of the Peace and supervises the execution of legislative functions.
Both the Governor-General and Custos Pitkin lauded former Custos, Ewen Corrodus for doing a sterling job and President of the Lay Magistrates’ Association – St James Chapter, Claudette Bryan, for her outstanding contribution while acting as Custos for nearly two years.
Preceding the swearing-in, there was a colourful ceremony in which the Governor-General took the Royal Salute and inspected a Guard of Honour.