Grand 'send off' for Bishop Ricketts and his two sons
Bishop Stephen Ricketts and his two sons, Chevorn and Sejue Ricketts, who were among six persons who died on July 16 when their motor vehicle plunged into the Rio Cobre, were laid to rest in a grand revival thanksgiving ceremony in Commodore, St Catherine, yesterday.
"A only Princess Diana did go home inna dem yah fashion and style yah, so it must be that the Lord has found some favour in this man make him can go home inna them fashion ya," Archbishop Dr Sulanch Lewis, one of the officiating ministers, said.
The Mount Maria Zion True Fellowship Church, where the service was held, could not host the amount of persons who turned up to bid farewell to the bishop and his sons. Many resorted to standing on the outside, where the streets were lined with dozens of vehicles. Multiple police officers were in attendance to ensure crowd control.
Inside the crammed church, the three caskets were propped up on a wooden alter, surrounded by multiple coloured candles. The benches were removed, allowing the revivalist worshippers room to dance and chant, while circling around the caskets.
Much of the ceremony, which started at 9 a.m. was dedicated to dancing and chanting in tongues around the caskets with the occasional ringing of bells. There were many sporadic instances of persons getting into 'spirit', where they moved about the packed church, seemingly uncontrollably.
At various intervals, the ritual was paused to give persons an opportunity to give their tributes to the deceased. In his tribute, Peter Abrahams, councillor for the Bog Walk division, told the congregation that Bishop Ricketts was his good friend, and a true Labourite.
"Steve is a honest, decent individual. I happened to come in contact with him a couple years ago, doing business in Bog Walk. We were there talking and that's when I realised he was a true Labourite," Abrahams said.
"I remember the last time when Andrew Holness was touring the area, there was a congregation over by the shop next door, not even me could calm down the people because Andrew Holness was late. Steve was the only man to step out of this church, and come over to the bar, and calm the people of the Linstead area. Jamaica, I know, is saddened by this sudden death," he recalled.
Archbishop Lewis, who is from New York, also gave tribute, calling the bishop a good friend, who always spoke the truth. "Before him tell you the truth, him woulda take a little drink. Him always tell me people say things, and I told him people will always talk about us because we are celebrities, and Steve a first- class celebrity so them haffi chat," he said.
Lewis might have been alluding to the fact that tongues have long been wagging about the bishop's character, as many persons had regarded his lifestyle as less than holy. But many of Ricketts family members and some community residents came out in support of him, denying the rumours. The family members claimed that things that were being said in the social and traditional media were very hurtful to them and only served to further taint the bishop's esteem character.
Ricketts along with his sons were finally laid to rest in the Commodore Cemetery minutes after 5 p.m. yesterday.