The Holy Father Pope Francis has honoured Haynes Baptiste who has served the Church and the wider UK society for many years.
He has been a strong and faithful presence in his parish, in the archdiocese, in CARJ and across the churches as a trainer, a leader and a prophetic voice.
Haynes has campaigned, prayed and laughed with us – and always challenged us to live up to our best ideals.
We congratulate Haynes and look forward to working with him in the future.
Haynes Baptiste came to the UK in 1956.
Having trained and served as a teacher in Dominica, on settling in Britain, he worked on the railways, in a mental hospital and then as a postman. He also worked for British Telecom, where he held a variety of jobs for more than 25 years.
During those years, he was active in St Gregory’s parish in Earlsfield and in the Southwark Diocesan West Indian Chaplaincy. In the ten years leading up to retirement, he took a cut in salary to become the Director of the Methodist Leadership Racism Awareness Workshops (MELRAW). Haynes has been a key figure in CARJ throughout its 30 years.
It is appropriate, and very meaningful in the wider context of church and society, for Haynes to receive a Papal honour at this time. He was a prophetic figure over half a century when the UK and the Catholic community were going through a transition – coming to terms with growing ethnic diversity.
Haynes worked collaboratively with colleagues, across ethnic, class and religious differences to support that process of peaceful integration, always proud to be a Catholic, always an articulate visionary and always accepting others while challenging them to live up to their best ideals.
It is a symbolic and meaningful moment, when a black Catholic leader is publically honoured for his role in changing society for the better. It brings to the attention of society, for reflection and inspiration, not just Haynes’s efforts but the sustained involvement of many Christians, alongside those of other beliefs, in the process of building community during a period of increasing diversity.