As the year 2018 comes to an end, Catholic News recaps some of the news highlights from the wider Caribbean Church.
Church/State affairs: As Mustard Seed Communities celebrated 40 years of caring for Jamaica’s most vulnerable in October, founder Fr Gregory Ramkissoon, pleaded with the Jamaica Government and charitable organisations for greater assistance in supporting the cause.
Ahead of the March 13 elections, Bishop Clyde Harvey of St George’s-in-Grenada warned that Church leaders should not directly involve themselves in partisan politics by seeking to be candidates for political parties or by urging Church members to vote for any particular party.
In February, Archbishop Patrick Pinder of Nassau, Bahamas called for a serious, sincere, national dialogue on illegal immigration led by government with members from business, law enforcement and the legal profession.
St Joseph of Cluny Sister Marie Claire Joseph was awarded the St Lucia Medal of Honour (Gold) for distinguished service in education and community service at a ceremony in March.
In April, Church leaders from Jubilee Grenada and Jubilee Caribbean appealed to the governments of the Caribbean and international financial institutions to establish debt relief as an instrument for emergency support and reconstruction ahead of the onset of the 2018 hurricane season.
The Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Bridgetown, Archbishop Jason Gordon of Port of Spain said that the decision by the Caribbean Court of Justice in July to declare as unconstitutional and a violation of the right to life, the mandatory death sentence for a conviction of murder in Barbados is a step in the right direction.
In May, the bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) expressed concern for order, justice and peace in Suriname as they awaited the verdict of a court matter. They further called the international community, especially CARICOM to help seek a lasting solution to the political impasse in Venezuela.
Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB of Georgetown, Guyana apologised to the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Queer) community in March, acknowledging that the Church has not always interfaced with LGBTQ persons in the best manner.
Last month, two prominent Puerto Rican religious leaders called for the diocese’s debt to be restructured in ways that diminish austerity, reduce the island’s high child-poverty levels and encourage sustainable growth.
Ordinations and appointments
The Diocese of Bridgetown boosted its clerical pool with four ordinations in June—Rev Dr Winston Layne, formerly of the Anglican faith, to the Presbyterate, and Michael Gonsalves, Fabian Alexander and Alphonus Joseph to the permanent Diaconate. All four are married with children.
Msgr Max Leroy Mésidor was installed Metropolitan Archbishop of Port-au-Prince in January. He replaces Archbishop Emeritus Guire Poulard who served from 2011–2017.
Deacon Maria Lucas Gunalan Joseph Elango was ordained to the priesthood while seminarians Mario Anthony Murton and Lawrence K Muvengi, were elevated to the Order of Diaconate for the Archdiocese of Kingston, Jamaica in August.
Fr Donald Chambers of the Archdiocese of Kingston, Jamaica, was appointed General Secretary of the AEC with effect December 1. He replaces Fr John Persaud of the Georgetown diocese who served a term of four years.
Trinidad-born Fr Christopher Llanos SJ of the Canadian province was appointed Regional Superior of Guyana in August. He succeeds Fr Paul Martin who was regional superior since 2011.
Fr Cassio Santos da Silva Oliveira, 27, arrived in July for a four-year mission to Suriname. Meanwhile, deacon Guillaume Woei A Jin was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Paramaribo in November.
Pope Francis appointed Bishop Robert Llanos to the Diocese of St John’s-Basseterre. The appointment was made public December 18. Bishop Llanos’ installation will take place on his 61st birthday, February 3, 2019 at the Holy Family Cathedral, St John’s, Antigua. He was Apostolic Administrator of the diocese from June 20, 2016.
His Excellency Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Apostolic Nuncio for the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) presented his letters of Credence to Governor-General of Barbados Dame Sandra Mason. His
Excellency was accredited as ambassador to Belize and Barbados, as of September, and Grenada in August.
Barbados Catholic faithful, regional clergy, family, friends and other well-wishers bid goodbye to long-serving priest Fr Peter Thomas Clarke OP who died in hospital March 27 at age 86.
Bishop Ganesh Benedict Singh—the diocese’s first Guyanese bishop was buried in the crypt below the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Brickdam, Georgetown. He was 90 years old.
Bishop Emeritus Sydney Anicetus Charles, 92 died at the General Hospital, St George’s, Grenada September 4. He was buried September 28 at the crypt below the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
The Marriage Encounter (ME) movement in Suriname celebrated its 30th anniversary with a convention in May at the retreat centre in Paramaribo.
Living Water Community celebrated its 15th anniversary of Barbados mission in March.
Trinidad-born Fr Leonard Alfonso, priest in Barbados celebrated his 80th birthday with a Thanksgiving Mass July 12.
Chancellor of the Diocese of Georgetown, Msgr Terrence Montrose celebrated his 44th anniversary of priestly ordination August 10 while Msgr Paul Jervais celebrated his 35th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.
The Christoforus Internaat—a boarding school for young boys and girls in need of education, housing, care and guidance celebrated its 50th anniversary last July.
As of July, all operations at the Holy Redeemer Retreat house in Dominica were ordered to cease as the facility closed its doors following heavy damage suffered during the passage of Hurricane Maria September 2017.
The St Rose’s High School in Guyana which has been in existence for over 150 years was demolished in July to allow for construction of a new modern building.
Church Abuse Responses
In light of recent allegations and worldwide reports of child sexual abuse and other forms of abuse by clergy, Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of St John’s-Basseterre, Bishop Robert Llanos condemned the actions of the abusers and firmly support the victims. He said the RC Church, including his diocese is committed to helping anyone impacted by such sexual abuse.
In a statement in November, AEC President Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau, Dominica extended fraternal solidarity and prayerful support to the Pope as he recognised an orchestrated effort to place a burden of responsibility and even guilt for the sins and crimes of others on the Holy Father.