by Dwight Logan

The Church in Petite Martinique is called the Church of the Sacred Heart. The symbol of a heart is used to help us understand God's great love for us as portrayed by Jesus.
    When we speak of a "heart" we often mean it to represents the whole person and all the love of which he or she is capable.
    The Sacred Heart directs our thoughts to God's love for us through Jesus. It strengthens the bonds of love that unite us to God and every member of the human family.
    Pope Leo XIII wrote that, "in the Sacred Heart there is the symbol and the express image of the infinite love of Jesus Christ which moves us to love in return."

   
     
 
   
 

It is hard to separate the history of the Church of the Sacred Heart Petite Martinique, from the history of the island of Petite Martinique, for the church has always had a great influence on the community.

The recorded date of the establishing of the first Roman Catholic Church on the island of Petite Martinique is unknown by this author. The Church of England or Anglican Church built the first church and school on the island on lands which were later purchased by Mr. Francis Clement, a senior member of the Roman Catholic faith. Evidences showed that Mr. Francis Clement died in 1854. The Roman Catholics on the island who out numbered the Anglicans because of the island's links to the French territories, took over the buildings which were used by the Anglicans and established their own church and school, paying a yearly lease to the Clement family. In fact, up until july 1907 the buildings used by the Roman Catholics as church and school and the lands on which they were located were all privately owned by the Clement family.

Evidence of this can be seen in the conveyance paper or deed of gift from Francis Clement Jr. to the Roman Catholic Church Body.
    Liber P7, page 336. Recorded on the 21st day of August 1907, at 2:12 pm.
    "I Francis Clement of the government of Grenada shipwright send greeting. Whereas on the said land is erected a certain Roman Catholic Church and whereas it is desirable that the said building should be made over to the said Roman Catholic Church and the land conveyed to the Roman Church Body for the use of the Roman Catholic Church... I the said Francis Clement as beneficial owner do hereby convey unto His Grace Patrick Vincent Flood all that lot piece or parcel of land part of Good Hope Estate situated at Petite Martinique a Dependency of the Government of Grenda containing an acre and two roods English statue measure by the same more or less..."

The first Roman Catholic Church building was a wooden building situated at the site opposite the post office. If you visit Petite Martinique, look for a small cistern opposite the post office. That cistern once formed part of the old church compound. A report stated that the old church was destroyed by a hurricane in the 1940s. The only recorded hurricane that struck Petite Martinique in the 1940s was on August 14th 1944. The present Church was built in the 1940s. The exact year of the start of construction stated and the date that the building was commissioned is not known by this author. However, the building was completed in 1947. The school children of the day played a major role in its construction. Every day each child had to carry a stone with him or her to school for the construction of the new church. The new church was built above the hill adjacent to the site of the old church.

In 1883 a monk resident in St. Vincent Abbe Guemigou recorded the baptism of 22 infants in Petite Martinique. A Grenadian Father Joseph Aquart, better known as Father Acar, appeared in the Petite Martinique Roman Catholic Church Baptismal Book on June 3rd 1897. A number of adults were baptized by Father Aquart that year. These included Arthur Kennaird age 25, Sussannan Coggminna age 75 both originally from Scotland. The baptism of these Scottish people indicated that the Scottish who came to Petite Martinique after emancipation either couldn't find a place to practice their faith or were not allowed to practice their religion on the island and were converted to Roman Catholic faith. However, it was not only the Scottish that were converted to Catholicism, but anyone who had intended to take up permanent residence on the island. For instance, Joseph Edgar Blair, age 13, from Barbados was baptized in 1904, Josephine cuffie age 7 from St. Vincent in 1906, Adina Joseph age 29 from St. Vincent in 1943 and Grefton Gregg, age 31, from Bequia in 1943 to name a few. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why Petite Martinique renamed 100% Catholics up until the 1980s.

It is said by the early 1900s Petite Martinique had the highest percentage of Roman Catholics in the Grenadines and they continually insisted on their importance. In 1912 they addressed a petition to the Archbishop in Trinidad.

Address from the Residents of Petite Martinique to Archbishop John Pius Dowling 1912.
   "We Pray that your Grace may give us a residential Parish Priest. We do not mean that Father Aquart neglects us in any manner but having much to contend with his principal parish he is unable to devote much time to us and as far as our sister islands are concerned (Mayreau and Canouan) he had hardly find time to visit them... Many there are who pass out of their mortal life without seeing the priest... Father Aquart erected a presbytery here so that some day a residential priest may be stationed in this island..."

In March of 2006 a Father Gregg McManus arrived on the island and became the first full time residential priest on the island. The Church of the Sacred Heart is anxiously awaiting the ordination of its first priest in that of Brother Hugh Logan, who will begin his final year come September at the regional Seminary of St. John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs

The Church continues to lead the way in terms of education on the island. The only school on the island is owned by the church of the Sacred Heart. The people of Petite Martinique are always serious about their religion and maintain a high percentage of Roman Catholics in its population to this day.