The Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs held its annual opening Mass for the academic year 2018–2019 on September 14. The chief celebrant was Archbishop Jason Gordon.
Concelebrants were those involved in the formation of seminarians, which included Seminary Rector Msgr Allan Ventour, Vice Rector Msgr Cuthbert Alexander, Fr Arnold Francis, Principal, Theological Institute, and Episcopal Vicar for Vocations and Priestly formation, Fr Matthew d’Hereaux. Other clergy present were former Rector Msgr Michael de Verteuil and Msgr Esau Joseph.
The congregation comprised students studying for the dioceses of Port of Spain, Barbados and Guyana along with the seminarians from the Holy Ghost order, the Benedictine order, the Aspirants programme, lay students and invited guests.
In his homily on the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, the Archbishop said that now is an occasion for the Church to step back and ask some hard questions as we live in an era that promulgates the ideology of “the prosperity gospel” which says that because one has given themselves to God and professed Jesus as Lord there is an individual expectation that their path in life is one that would be easy. “The problem of this ideology is that it is not Jesus’ way and not Jesus’ teaching.”
Referring to Matthew 16:24 “If any want to become my follower, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”, he said those who are humble will be exalted and those who exalt themselves will be humbled. He further stated that this is a centrepiece of the Christian mystery that we have lost sight of as an important anchor in our lives.
The Archbishop said because of individualism in which the ‘I’ is central we have lost this mystery of the cross. The cross for us should not be an adornment around our necks in our chapels and places of worship and our homes. “The cross must become a living sign of the invitation of Christ to see and to contemplate what true love is because it is a sign of love”, he remarked.
The Archbishop said “We have gotten so accustomed to the cross, so accustomed to having it pretty, so accustomed to having it as a decoration that we have lost sight of it as a sign of Christian hope. That is what the cross is.” It is in this cross that we understand the kenosis, the self-emptying of God himself, and it is through this that we understand what true love is, he said.
He ended saying “We do not come to true love by trying to get for ourselves—we come to true love by giving ourselves to others.
If we want to be theologians, ministers, priests, the people of God, then we need to gaze on the wood of the cross because from this cross salvation has come to the whole world.” – Paul Ramlogan, seminarian