Reflection on Fr. Russell Ralph Sampson

By Fr. Andrew Roache
January 4, 2024

Fr. Russell Sampson was a man of authority. Authority within the Christian context means more than telling people what to do. One can be in a position of authority and not be a person of authority. A person of authority invites one to a deeper encounter. It creates the environment for one to grow and develop. It is an invitation for self-disclosure.

Today we lament the death of Fr. Russell Ralph Sampson, SFM who died on December 14 ,2023 at Presentation Manor, Scarborough, Ontario. He was born at Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, on September 23, 1938, and was baptized on the same day. He was the son of Patrick James Sampson and Margaret Elizabeth Sampson. He grew up with his two sisters Helen and Barbara in a loving household.

He entered Scarborough Mission Novitiate in 1965, then studied theology at Saint Francis Xavier Seminary, Scarborough, Ontario (1966-1970), obtaining a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree.

Fr. Russ was ordained to the priesthood on May 16, 1970, at St. Joseph Church, Sydney, Nova Scotia by Bishop William E. Power in the Diocese of Antigonish.

In 1970, Fr. Russ arrived in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines where he first served at St John the Evangelist Mesopotamia from 1970 to 1975. As a new priest he was happy to be in the presence of Rev Clement Paul and Rev Ronald Taggalie.

He later served as administrator of the Co-Cathedral from 1977 to 1987 and in the parish of the Holy Family from 1987 to 1990. After St Vincent and the Grenadines became a diocese in January 1990 Fr Sampson went on to work in Guyana until his retirement in 2009.

A primary concern of Fr. Russ was the development of the local church in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. He was a tower of strength and even found time to visit the seminary.

I am certain that the lives of many Vincentians were touched by the presence of this holy man of God. In fact, his physical presence was a source of healing and liberation. He will be remembered for his deep humility, his gentleness, and above all his love for the poor. As a priest he read avidly on current church affairs and on spirituality. He had more than 300 books on his Kindle reader.