Over 200 New York-based Guyanese Catholics and friends gathered for the 29th annual Guyanese Mass, at the St Francis of Assisi-St Blaise Church, Brooklyn, New York, Sunday, October 7. The tradition was well attended by faithful from out of State, Canada and even a few visiting from Guyana.
Of Guyanese parentage, Fr Mark Bristol, parochial vicar at St Anastasia Parish in Douglaston, Queens, New York, was the chief celebrant. New York-based Guyanese Deacon Joseph Dass, in a Catholic Standard report said that although attendance was lower than usual, the 2 p.m. Mass was joyful and with the usual Guyanese hospitality and generosity.
He shared that one anonymous congregant donated US$1,000 towards the collection and an airfare donation from Fly Jamaica was “raffled off” during the social gathering after the Mass.
Deacon Dass mentioned that worshippers were reminded of the main intention of the Mass: to pray for our “Motherland” and especially the poor, unemployed, and children in Guyana and the US.
The traditional Guyanese Mass was established by Guyanese-born Msgr Paul Jervis in 1989. Guyana Chronicle reported that the former altar boy of St Pius X Parish at La Penitence, Georgetown had migrated to New York while in his teens to advance his education. He later had a calling to the priesthood and was ordained there where he has been serving ever since.
However, Msgr Jervis has always kept in close touch with his homeland, Guyana, and visits every year and celebrates Mass at his former parish, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Brickdam and Sacred Heart RC.
The report stated “during the turbulent years of Guyana’s recent history, the then young priest was moved with compassion for his fellow Guyanese back home, and took action in organising a special Mass at which New York-based Guyanese Catholics and friends would attend, pray for their country, and make financial offerings to send to Guyana for various identified projects”.
One such project over the years has been the financing of the ongoing Brickdam Parish Soup Kitchen which feeds hundreds of needy every month on a daily basis in Georgetown. Other projects include financial assistance for the repairs or rebuilding of Catholic churches in various areas of the country.
Another tradition of the event is that of inviting a Guyanese priest to be the chief celebrant.
In previous years, the chief celebrants included Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB of Georgetown; Chancellor of the Diocese of Georgetown, Msgr Terrence Montrose; Frs Andrew Morrison SJ; Oliver Farnum; John Persaud; Malcolm Rodrigues SJ; Harold Wong SJ; Hildebrand Greene OSB; Floyd Grace; Andrew Chan-A-Sue; and Marlon Innis SJ.