By Kaelanne Jordan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Archbishop Jason Gordon has reiterated that welcoming migrants and refugees in T&T will greatly contribute to the next evolution of the economy. He thus called on Christians to “dig deeper”, change ways of thinking and become good neighbours to those in need.
In CAMSEL’s Ask the Archbishop live chat last Wednesday, Archbishop Gordon said while T&T is facing an economic crisis, “we still have enough to keep going; and enough to share with someone else.” He made reference to displaced Dominicans affected by Hurricane Maria, adding that T&T was the “most generous country”.
“And that’s the best of who we are. That’s our deepest identity. I am not sure why with Venezuelans and the other migrants and refugees coming, that quality that is so true to us is not the quality that is also to the fore,” he said.
The archbishop denounced the view that migrants are a drain to the economy and affect jobs and wages. He highlighted that in 1810, a period which saw an influx of refugees and migrants from Venezuela resulted in an impetus for a prosperous cocoa industry in T&T between 1870 and 1920.
Responding to a question from a Facebook viewer about focusing on T&T before helping others, Archbishop Gordon replied that charity begins at home but if it only stays at home, it is not charity. “Christianity is asking us to extend ourselves beyond our comfort zones and beyond what is actually comfortable to us,” the archbishop said, as he alluded to parables in the Bible, specifically of the Good Samaritan which dealt with hospitality.
The archbishop also mentioned that there are Caribbean migrants all over the world living in England, America, Canada and contributing to those societies.
Including the differently-abled
During the live chat, Archbishop Gordon spoke about his struggles as a dyslexic and how technology assists him with reading. He mentioned the dyslexic has some disadvantages, but also possess many advantages because they become integral thinkers. “Dyslexics are constantly challenged to think outside the box, problem solve and look at things again and again. They don’t think in silos. The brain of a dyslexic is wired to think creatively and to think in many different ways.”
Archbishop Gordon, who is scheduled to give the opening address at CREDI’s ‘Hidden Disabilities Conference—What you cannot see’ on Wednesday, mentioned that some well-known “high performing” dyslexics include, theoretical physicist Albert Einstein, inventor and businessman Thomas Edison and polymath Leonardo da Vinci.
Commenting on the Church’s plans for inclusion of differently-abled children in First Communion classes, he referred to the work being done by the Bethesda Community. It has received support from the archdiocese for the introduction of sensory-friendly Masses and training differently-abled children to receive First Communion.
Archbishop Gordon suggested Confirmation programmes need to have a “developmental component” to assist children who are having challenges in the teen years. “We’re going to have to work on it. We should help that child while that child is in the Confirmation programme…so at the end of their programme they should come out feeling the programme was amazing and they got a lot [out] of it.”
The archbishop also addressed how the Church would approach meeting the needs of Catholic youth and young adult. Referencing Pope Paul VI ‘concept of integral human development’, he said his approach was to meet people where they are and show them a path forward to keep growing pass developmental challenges and ultimately become people of God.
He said the problem facing youth and young adults is not offering opportunities for this kind of growth. “Development is not separate from spirituality; the education, the psychology, the adolescent challenges and all these pieces are integral to this human being.”