Parish priest Fr Jose Marie Thekkikutte MSFS and the parishioners of Tortuga Parish celebrated the 50th Golden Jubilee anniversary of one of its communities, Sacred Heart RC Church, Gasparillo last Sunday. The Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was June 8.
Archbishop Jason Gordon was the chief celebrant; Arima parish priest Fr Steve Duncan, a former parish priest, and former parishioner Fr Wilfred John concelebrated. Deacons Simon Rostant and Tristam Mathura assisted.
The celebrations started June 1 with a nine-day novena to the Sacred Heart spearheaded by Mr and Mrs Keith Dass of Mayo community. A Mass was celebrated daily during the novena by a past parish priest, or a priest from the central vicariate. Different parish ministries were also delegated to assist with the liturgy at each Mass. Memorabilia was also available on sale: key chains, bags, mugs, coasters etc with a beautiful picture of the church.
Archbishop Gordon in his homily urged the packed congregation in the beautifully decorated church to be witnesses to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. He urged everyone to love one another and treat one another with dignity and respect. He placed emphasis on the strong need for families to be united and that all must move past unforgiveness to live united.
It was indeed a beautiful celebration and the combined junior and senior parish choirs sang beautifully. The 50th anniversary logo was designed by parishioner Joe Rivas. There was no doubt that the Jubilee committee spearheaded by Kevin Alphonso worked very diligently behind the scenes to ensure that everything ran smoothly.
Towards the end of the Mass, tribute was paid to the many persons who worked in the vineyard over the years. Some of the honorees were catechists, past Legion of Mary members, or past St Vincent de Paul members.
According to the history, a chapel was first built by Abbe Fitz Simmons in 1846 and it was dedicated to the Sacred Heart. Back then the two parish priests of both Gasparillo and Pointe-à-Pierre, Frs Ronan Cuzack OP and Peter RM Bennet OP planned combined parish events through their pastoral council comprising 50 members and 112 executive members.
The Sacred Heart Church was built in 1920 by Fr Robert Cantwell. It was then reconstructed by Fr Reginald Hezekiah who was the parish priest of Pointe-à-Pierre at the time. On July 22, 1968, the church was blessed by Archbishop Anthony Pantin. – Marisha Darneaud