The Dominican Sisters will celebrate 150 years in Trinidad and Tobago today, Sunday with a private Mass at St Finbar’s RC, Diego Martin. Sr Marie Thérèse Rétout OP concludes an overview of their history. Part 1 appeared on this page in last Sunday’s issue.
Here are the names of the disciples of Christ who came to Trinidad and Tobago to teach his commands and to render remarkable works of Christian charity:
16th Century: Two Dominicans from Spain came to Cairi (la Trinidad) and in 1521 were martyred by the natives as a result of treachery by the Spaniards.
17th Century: (1687–1708) Capuchins (branch of the Franciscans) came from Spain.
(1699) Three Capuchins were martyred, in what is today, San Rafael.
18th Century: (1758–1837) Capuchins established more Missions in the country.
19th Century: (1836) Sisters of St Joseph Cluny from France.
(1863) Holy Ghost (Spiritan) Fathers from France.
(1864) Dominicans (Order of Friars Preachers) from France
(1868) Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena from France
(1875) Dominican Nuns (Holy Rosary Monastery) from Venezuela
(1895) Dominicans (Order of Friars Preachers) from Ireland
20th Century: (1915) Benedictines (Order of St Benedict) from Holland
(1920–21) Corpus Christi Carmelite Sisters from England
(1947) Holy Faith Sisters from Ireland
(1970) Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother from Germany
(1989) Missionaries of Charity from Venezuela/India
The above gives an idea of the thousands of Christ’s disciples who came to this country, the successors of his early ones, to whom He gave this command: “Go and teach all the nations, baptising them in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you”, and Christ added, “know that I am with you always, yes, to the end of time” (Mt 28:19–20).
This land of Trinidad and Tobago, considering the results, has proven to be a fertile soil for implanting the commands of Christ, particularly by His chosen disciples. Not only religious and diocesan priests are now ensuring—though insufficiently—the sacred ministry in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain but some of them, by decision of the current pope, have been raised to the dignity of the episcopacy, not only for our country but for other Caribbean nations as well. These are:
Archbishop Robert Rivas OP (Dominican) for St Lucia
Archbishop Anthony Pantin CSSp (Spiritan) for Trinidad and Tobago (deceased).
Archbishop Joseph Harris CSSp (Spiritan) for Trinidad and Tobago
Archbishop Jason Gordon (Diocesan) for Trinidad and Tobago and Bridgetown
Bishop Sydney Charles (Diocesan) for Grenada (retired)
Bishop John Mendes (Diocesan) for Trinidad and Tobago (deceased)
Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB (Benedictine) for Guyana
Bishop Malcolm Galt CSSp (Spiritan) for Barbados (retired)
Bishop Robert Llanos (Diocesan) for Antigua
Bishop Gerard County CSSp (Spiritan) for St Vincent and the Grenadines
Bishop Clyde Harvey (Diocesan) for Grenada and Petit Martinique
This list is impressive yet one has to bear in mind that a number of members of the Episcopate, of Diocesan clergy and religious priests have aged, some are seriously ill and some have died.
Today as ever, Christ keeps calling disciples in our country, but those who are called must say ‘Yes’ to Him and be ready, with the support of their family to do His will, generously and joyously. There is no greater blessing for a family than a vocation to the priesthood or to the Religious Life.
My apologies to the religious congregations of the 21st century which have been omitted due to my limitations in obtaining information.