In a few hours, we will wish farewell to 2017 and welcome 2018. We highlight just some of the events that occurred in the Church during the course of the year which we covered.
The year began with the unveiling of a 500-pound statue of the Lady of the Holy Rosary of Fatima, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Throughout the year, the statue was taken to parishes and select Catholic secondary schools across the Archdiocese.
From January to May, Confirmation catechists received training for the new Archdiocesan Confirmation Programme.
RIP: Dominican priest Fr Gerard ‘Donie’ Mc Mahon died January 6. He was at the time the oldest priest in the archdiocese.
The 21st National Conference of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal was held January 6–8 at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya, Tunapuna, under the theme Go (Mt 28:19).
In a January 9 letter to the archdiocese, Archbishop Joseph Harris issued a challenge to parishes to find ways of “raising our Church’s attendance from 18 per cent to 25 per cent” in 2017.
In one of his final acts as US Ambassador, John Estrada visited Our Lady of Laventille RC Primary on January 10. He toured the school, chatted with staff and pupils and presented stationery.
It was considered a sign of hope as the Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs was reopened January 26 with an outdoor Mass. The seminary had been closed in February 2010.
Archbishop Joseph Harris met with 19 Catholic secondary school principals on January 27 to discuss a number of issues. He encouraged them to inculcate a Catholic ethos.
A Mass for the archdiocese was celebrated by diocesan priests at the Cathedral on January 29, near the tombs of Archbishop Anthony Pantin and Bishop John Mendes.
The Catholic Religious Education Development Institute held its fifth graduation ceremony at the Assumption Church, Maraval on January 31.
Some 55 religious leaders, including Catholic clergy, from 14 Caribbean countries came together at the Hyatt Regency February 1–2 towards implementing recommendations to end the spread of AIDS.
Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Harris issued a pastoral letter for the Lenten Season, Return to Hospitality. In it he called on the faithful to take seriously the value of hospitality.
The Movement for Non-Violence, a multi-religious grouping of individuals and organisations working to curb the violence in society, began a series of activities with 40 Hours of Prayer on March 3.
A 24-hour prayer vigil was held March 3 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to pray for the Church and the nation.
Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Harris submitted his resignation to Pope Francis on March 19, his 75th birthday. For months there would be speculation on who would replace him. The answer came in October.
The first outdoor Youth 2000 Prayer Festival was held at the Green Meadows Estate, Santa Cruz, from March 31 to April 2.
Criminologist Renee Cummings spoke on violence and the family at the annual general meeting of the St Joseph’s Convent POS Past Pupils’ Association.
The Matelot Innovative Community Open School Project held its graduation on April 6 at the Matelot Community College.
Registration for all undergraduate degrees, diplomas, certificate and workshop courses for the 2017–2018 academic year was suspended by the Catholic Religious Education Development Institute. A CREDI Transition Team was appointed by Archbishop Harris to lead CREDI “to a path of long-term sustainability”.
Hundreds of pilgrims attended the start of Marian devotions on May 13, the centennial anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Mother in Fatima, Portugal. The statue to Our Lady of Fatima was crowned.
Catholic News celebrated its 125th anniversary on May 6.
The Bethesda Catholic Community achieved a milestone June 4 when six autistic children received First Communion from Archbishop Emeritus Harris at Trinity RC Parish Hall, Arouca. Bethesda promotes inclusion of persons with disabilities into liturgies through sensory-friendly Masses.
RIP: Sr Mary Jacinta Lee OP dies June 6. She was 100 years.
The Society of St Vincent de Paul celebrated its 160th anniversary this year with Mass at Rosary Church on June 11.
In the early morning of June 12, Fr Clyde Harvey was attacked and robbed while at the St Martin de Porres Church, Gonzales. He was tied up, the presbytery ransacked and a sum of cash and his mobile phone taken. In an interview, Fr Harvey empathised with citizens who were victims of crime whose stories never made the news and asked the public to pray for them.
Tropical Storm Brett which passed Trinidad on June 19 caused flooding to homes and also the Holy Rosary Church, Port of Spain. Infrastructure issues led to flooding at the church with the onset of the rainy season. Some Catholic primary schools also had damage to roofs caused by gusty winds.
Corpus Christi on June 15 marked 233 consecutive years of the observance. In his homily Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Harris said, “Have we moved or are we moving from individualism to communities of love? Are our weekly Eucharistic celebrations, celebrations of a loving of a community? Are we open to all others to celebrate with us, regardless of ethnicity or social class or financial possibilities? Is hospitality the virtue most lived?”
Bulldozing began on the Our Lady of Immaculate Conception Church, Matelot on June 24, which was blessed by Archbishop Anthony Pantin August 5, 1968. The church had deteriorated due to sea blast and termites.
Catholic News reported on June 16 on the reassignment of Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Nicola Girasoli to Peru.
July 4: 11-year-old Jaden Alexander of St Dominic’s RC Penal placed fourth overall in the Secondary Entrance Assessment Examination May 4. Results were released in July. Alexander’s success came despite classes being held in the Penal Community Centre.
Deacon Simon Peter Ango was ordained to the priesthood July 15 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Fr Ango celebrated his first Mass at St Peter’s Church, Mayaro, where he was ordained to the diaconate on New Year’s Eve 2016.
July 14–16: Jesus Explosion (JE) was held at the Trinity East Secondary School, Trincity. The theme was Repentance. Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Nicola Girasoli presented the Official Medal of Pope Francis for “joyful commitment in evangelisation announcing the good news among young people”. JE was established in the US Virgin Islands in March, and Slovenia in June.
JULY 21–23: The first Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) Vocations Conference was held at Emmaus Centre, Arima. The theme was Building a culture of Vocations.
Fr Clyde Harvey was ordained the new Bishop of St George’s-in-Grenada (see Caribbean Church review).
Liturgy school celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. A supplement was published in the July 30 edition.
August 7: Launch of the AEC Bishops Pastoral Letter New Ways of Being Church in a Digital Milieu. The document is the Church’s response to the challenge of evangelising in the age of digital media.
The Archdiocese of Port of Spain issued Praxis Parochorum 2017 and a companion document Pastoral Administrative Manual, both were dedicated to the theme of Hospitality. Archbishop Harris said the documents combined the governance dimensions of the archdiocese with a prophetic and priestly underpinning and best addresses the ongoing commitment to full implementation of the SYNODAL decisions.
Belmont Boys Secondary announces it will from September be called St Francis Boys’. The name change was intended to reflect the school’s Catholic identity.
August 14–22: The novena to Santa Rosa saw collaboration between the Santa Rosa Parish and the Santa Rosa First Peoples’ community. The theme was Knowing Our Story and chief of the community Ricardo Bharath Hernandez gave a talk each night on different topics which provided insight into the rituals and traditions of the First Peoples.
August 20: Trinidadian Jesse Maingot made his Solemn Profession in the Dominican Order at St Finbar’s Church.
RIP: Fr Cuthbert van de Sande OSB died at the age of 93 on August 28. His funeral Mass was on September 2.
CAMSEL’s General Manager Lucille Nathu was elected the third President of SIGNIS Caribbean at their Annual General Meeting September 3–5 in Barbados. Other members of the new board are: Vice President Lisa Bhajan of Trinity TV, Shelly Ann Hee Chung of Barbados, Secretary Feroz Aboelrazak of Suriname, Treasurer and AEC General Secretary Fr John Persaud. Msgr William John-Lewis replaced Bishop Jason Gordon of Bridgetown as the theological advisor.
On September 5–6, Hurricane Irma damaged about 90 per cent of Barbuda’s infrastructure causing the evacuation of the population, less than 2,000. Other islands within the diocese of St John’s Basseterre—British Virgin Islands, Tortola, and Virgin Gorda also had damage. The Catholic News reported September 17 Apostolic Administrator Bishop Robert Llanos appeals for persons to share “from their safe places”.
Mother Nature was not done as Dominica experienced devastation with the passing of Hurricane Maria September 18. The island’s communication was cut off and buildings damaged. Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau was overseas at the time but appealed for moral support. The damage caused to the islands led to a massive show of solidarity with those affected and rallying of relief supplies. The Living Water Community, other non-governmental organisations, schools, all showed generosity in helping our regional brothers and sisters. The first shipment of relief supplies left Trinidad and Tobago for Antigua and Barbuda on September 21 and another September 22.
RIP: Sr Anne Marie Rodriguez SJC passed away September 8. She was a former principal of St Joseph’s Convent, St Joseph, Provincial and Novice Mistress for the Cluny Sisters; former Chancellor of the archdiocese.
The National Awards’ ceremony, which traditionally took place on Independence Day, was held on Republic Day. Among the recipients were educator Thora Best (Hummingbird Medal Gold for National Development and Public Service), Steve Williams (Public Service Medal of Merit Silver) and Professor Courtenay Bartholomew, Order of the Republic Trinidad and Tobago.
September 26: Archbishop Joseph Harris issued a statement on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s announcement that restrictions would be waived to accommodate nationals of Dominica affected by Hurricane Maria. There had been negative responses from some locals to Dr Rowley’s appeal for citizens to accommodate their friends in need from Dominica. Archbishop Harris called for Trinitarian love. “The two hurricanes which swept through the Caribbean a few short weeks ago have left a trail of destruction unparalleled for many years…The many rendered homeless, the destruction of so many schools, the total lack of resources medical and otherwise call us to ask ourselves how can we help?”
September 29: The first Priests Can Cook to raise funds for Catholic primary schools saw attendance by 1,000 patrons gathered at St John’s Ambulance Hall to sample dishes. The event was organised by staff at Archbishop’s House and the Catholic Education Board of Management with support from St Mary’s College Past Students Union. The aim was to raise funds for Our Lady of Laventille, Diego Martin Boys’, Petit Valley Boys’ and La Romaine.
RIP: Clive Pantin, former principal of Fatima College (1972–1981), sportsman, philanthropist, former Education Minister, founder of the Foundation for the Enhancement and Enrichment of Life, dies on September 30. His funeral Mass was held at October 3 at the St Theresa’s Church, Woodbrook.
RIP: Fr Roland Quesnel CSSp died at age of 90 on October 11. The funeral Mass was held October 16 at Assumption Church, Maraval.
October 15: The series of Laventille Devotions for 2017 ends. Fr John Theodore CSSp told the gathering of the power of the Rosary for saving sinners and conversion of persons involved in crime.
October 19: Bishop Jason Gordon of Bridgetown was announced as the Archbishop-elect of Port of Spain. The announcement was made at Archbishop’s House by Msgr Julien Kabore of the Apostolic Nunciature. Bishop Gordon was also appointed Apostolic Administrator of the Bridgetown diocese. Archbishop Joseph Harris was appointed Apostolic Administrator of Port of Spain in the interim.
October 21: Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Harris was inducted into St Mary’s College Hall of Fame along with former teacher and first female member of staff, Carmen Acham-Chen, labour leader Quintin O’Connor, former National Joint Action Committee head Makandal Daaga and Rev Everson Sieunarine, Presbyterian minister.
This year’s Justice Peace and Community Week (October 21–28) put the spotlight on the plight of refugees at its opening ceremony. The Catholic Commission for Social Justice and Living Water Community hosted the event at the St Dominic’s Pastoral Centre, Diego Martin.
RIP: Sr Mary Imelda Beharry OP died October 21.
November 8: St Joseph’s Convent Hall of Excellence inducted Child Psychologist Allyson Hamel-Smith; Foundation for Human Development Chair Angela Hamel-Smith; former music teacher Jocelyn Monica Pierre and educator Sr Annetta Juliana Alexander SJC. Former legal secretary Margaret Gittens and past principal Sr Jean Devenish Huggins SJC were inducted posthumously.
RIP: Sr Christina Ali SJC died November 14; Sr Dominic Allum OP passed away November 19.
Catholic Engaged Encounter celebrates its 35th anniversary, November 26 which was the Solemnity Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. The theme for the anniversary celebrations was Our Family, a Circle of Strength, founded on Faith, joined in Love, blessed by God.
November 27: Presentation College, San Fernando became the first school in Trinidad and Tobago and Caribbean to pledge to become carbon zero. Principal Dexter Mitchell said “As a Catholic college we acknowledge our Pope’s call for conservation of our environment.” CEO of the Environmental Management Authority Hayden Romano hoped the project would drive a “bottom up” approach in the country.
December 4–8: Archbishop Harris visits the nation’s prisons. Catholic News December 10 reported his call for citizens to keep lobbying for human rights to be respected, even in prisons. He said prison should be like “a rehabilitative centre where we can treat them”.
At the Mass to celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 at the Cathedral Archbishop Harris urges young people to develop habits and live lives which will benefit the country in the future. He told the congregation God can change infertility to fruitfulness.
December 17: Archbishop Harris pleads for authentic discipleship. He hoped in his six years leading the Catholic Church if there was one thing people learnt was that God wants authentic disciples and everything else was “so much fluff”.
December 27: Archbishop-elect Jason Gordon is installed the 11th Archbishop of Port of Spain at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.