Monsignor Preston A. Moss, a retired Catholic priest and a “beloved brother and spiritual director”, died at his Lakeview Drive home yesterday afternoon.
He was 79.
Moss died just before 4 p.m. following ongoing treatment for stomach cancer.
He was ordained as a priest of the Roman Catholic church on June 4, 1965.
As the news of his death spread, tributes from people close to him poured in.
“He served the archdiocese as a priest for over 50 years in a number of capacities,” said Archbishop Patrick Pinder of the Archdiocese of Nassau.
“Over the last couple of years, he has been formally retired, but obviously still of service to the archdiocese.
“His passing certainly is a very, very sad moment for the archdiocese because he represents so much for us.
“He was an exquisite pastor. He was a man who certainly gave so much of his life to the archdiocese, and for that he will be greatly remembered.
“He had many, many friends whose lives he touched both within the Catholic community and beyond it; within the Bahamian community and beyond it as well, so certainly, it is a great loss to so many at this time.”
Pinder said he last saw Moss yesterday at his home, but he was unable to speak.
Former Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes, who was one of Moss’ close friends, called him a “truly noble prince of the church”.
He said Moss’ death has left the country bereft of one of its finest citizens.
“I was privileged to have him as a friend for many decades and to have been a witness to the flowering of his long and wonderful spiritual pilgrimage,” Sir Arthur added.
“Monsignor Moss was well-suited to the vocation to which he gave his life.
“He was a man of great empathy for others, deep insight into the human condition and the ability to lighten the lives of many with whom he came into contact.
“Even as a young man there was an extraordinary dignity about him which only matured during his life of service to his church and his country.
“As we mourn his passing at this hour we can be comforted by the faith which inspired him and celebrate for many years a life well-lived.”
In a post on his Facebook page, Education Minister Jeffrey Lloyd, who was a deacon in the Catholic church, referred to Moss as his, “beloved brother, spiritual director and friend” of 54 years.
Lloyd remembered him as “a man of measureless grace and compassion; humility personified.”
Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Fred Mitchell also remembered Moss as a friend and confidante.
“In his public life he was a priest’s priest,” said Mitchell in a statement.
“He served the church faithfully and did not waver.”
Mitchell, who is a former Fox Hill MP, said that Moss was a protector of that constituency.
“He was fully integrated into the community and knew how Fox Hill worked and what it took to motivate our people,” he said.
“…His life was a stellar example of how despite the burdens of personal physical frailty, you use whatever God gave you to the best of your ability.”
Mitchell also noted his father, Fred Mitchell Sr., was Moss’ godfather
“We have lost a great Bahamian,” he added. “I have lost a good friend. Fox Hill has lost a protector. Rest in peace monsignor.”
A statement from the Office of the Prime Minister noted last night that Moss was the pastor of a number of churches in New Providence, and served as rector of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral.
His ministry extended throughout the country, including missions in the Family Islands.
“He was a Bahamian prince who also served on a number of government boards. His half a century of ministry coincided with our national development as a sovereign Bahamas,” the statement said.
“Monsignor Moss played an essential role in our country’s development, and the indigenization of the local church.
“He was known for his holiness and pastoral care. His ministry of love, mercy and reconciliation touched many Bahamians over a number of generations. He walked with grace and dedication in the footsteps of Christ.”
Free National Movement Chairman Carl Culmer also offered sincerest condolences.
“His signature word ‘peace’ was very significant of the life he led which was one of simplicity and humility; his ministry, one of mercy, reconciliation and healing,” Culmer said.
“Monsignor Moss, having lost his parents at an early age, always said the highlights of his priesthood [were] encouraging family life and pastoring to those in need.
“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.
“Monsignor lived a full life and was ready to transition to see his master that he served so well.
“May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”
The archdiocese is expected to announce funeral arrangements soon.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications