Rev Aaron Dumas - No topic too taboo to tell the pastor
"I get the satisfaction of knowing that I am assisting folks. No money in the world can take that away from me." These are the words of Dr Pastor Aaron Dumas, more popularly known as Dear Pastor, author of the popular Tell Me Pastor column in this newspaper.
Dumas, who has garnered national fame through his column and radio show, says it has been one of the joys of his life helping people with his platform over the years.
"What I can tell you is I have enjoyed doing so," he said referring to writing the columns. "Because I get the satisfaction of knowing that I am assisting folks, that I am helping people. People would call me and say thank you because what you said really helped me. That gives me great satisfaction. No money in the world can take that away from me."
Dumas, who majored in counselling at the Jamaica Theological Seminary, began his writing journey at the Daily News newspaper, writing a column in The Sunday Sun, its flagship product. After the paper folded, Hector Wynter, then editor of The Gleaner , asked him to write his column for THE STAR .
The rest, as they say, is history.
Dumas said his column is one that offers counselling for family matters, love problems, sex, money, and other problems that people face in relationships. The pastor said that he has strived to give people the best advice possible.
"While they wouldn't talk about these things because they are in the church, young people are talking to me about them. So for churches to say no, no, no, no, they lie. They lie! They lie! They lie!"
Dumas says he credits his literate congregation with his willingness to address these topics. "I have a literate congregation, we talk about attending university, going on to do postgrad work. We talk freely but I am respectful to them and they are to me, and I hope that will continue until I have given up or can't go on anymore."
Dumas recalled one example of these 'taboo' topics that he covered that stuck with him over the years. "She wrote, 'I am from a rural parish', she did not know that her mother was also her sister."
Pastor went on to explain that the young woman's mother was impregnated by her own father. The young woman only found out about her parentage while she was signing up for Common Entrance and realised this was common practice for her grandfather, who was also her father.
The ridicule she faced in her life struck a special chord with Dumas.
"That girl wrote to me and I have kept that letter. There's so many that I don't know if I have but I kept that letter."
"That thing bothered me a lot," he lamented. "Well, she became very good friends and I helped her. So that's one of the letters I have never forgotten, one that indeed has touched me."
While many are sceptical that some of Dumas' entries are fake, he says that if he were to share the full letters in the paper, it would shock people. "I told a man one day if you don't believe some of these things, why don't you come to my office. I said do you drink? You can have some white rum and then come and I'll show you some. Of course, I wouldn't let him see anybody's name and I said then you would understand that what we put there we have had to edit them because we can't put some of the things that people write."
According to him, over the 40 odd years of Tell Me Pastor , he has yet to see something that surprises him, but is ready to wait for the thing that does.
"I don't know if there's anything that would surprise me, really and truly, because I've covered so many topics. I am yet to face something that will surprise me but if there is a matter, I am willing to learn. I am always willing to learn."
"I thank God that THE STAR has been able to carry my column all these years and I will continue as long as THE STAR would like me to do so."