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Pope, Cardinal congratulate Archbishop Harris on golden jubilee

Archbishop Harris receives a gift during his anniversary Mass in Paraguay. Photos courtesy Elizabeth Anne Olton.

Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Harris has been congratulated by Pope Francis and Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, on achieving 50 years of priestly ministry.

While the message from the pope was handwritten in Latin, Cardinal Filoni’s letter, dated July 6, was in English and reads: Your Grace

On July 14 you will celebrate your Golden Jubilee of priestly ordination. This milestone in your sacerdotal service is an occasion for rejoicing and thanksgiving for the manifold gifts from the Lord.

For the first years of your priesthood you were not afraid to bear the “odour of the sheep” as you ministered to God’s People in Paraguay as a missionary for 13 years until 1982. Later, after further studies in the USA, you returned to Trinidad as Rector and then Provincial Superior of the Spiritan Fathers. Up to the time of your ordination as Coadjutor Archbishop on September 14, 2011, you had been a pastor in several parishes, Judicial Vicar and Vicar for Clergy. You have also written several articles on Catechesis, Priestly and Religious formation and Canon Law.

As Archbishop of Port of Spain you strove to foster what Pope Francis calls a “missionary communion”. Sometimes you went “before [your] people, pointing the way and keeping their hope vibrant”. At other times you were simply “in their midst with [your] unassuming and merciful presence. At yet other times, [you had to] walk after them, helping those who lag behind and—above all—allowing the flock to strike out on new paths” (n 31, Evangelii Gaudium).

As you celebrate fifty years of priestly ordination, I extend to you my very best wishes of joy and peace. May the Lord, through the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, continue to bless you and keep you well in body and spirit! I assure you of the Holy Father’s gratitude for your many years of dedicated service, as well as prayerful support of this Missionary Dicastery.

Yours devotedly,

Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect

Archbishop Harris recently visited Paraguay, which he often calls his second home, where anniversary celebrations were held in the parish of San Jose Obrero (St Joseph the Worker) on July 29. Archbishop Harris ministered in the parish for ten years.