By Raymond Syms, firstname.lastname@example.org
Bishop Robert Llanos became the fourth bishop of the Diocese of St John’s-Basseterre on Sunday before a packed Holy Family Cathedral, Michael’s Mount, St John’s.
Children danced their way to the sanctuary to the sound of the celebratory hymn ‘Nita Mwinmbiya Bwana’ (‘Sing now to God Our Saviour’) as the Mass of Installation began. Before the liturgy, Cathedral Administrator Fr George Williams escorted the Bishop-elect to the chapel where he knelt in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
Principal concelebrants were Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachuku and Metropolitan Archbishop Robert Rivas of Castries, St Lucia. Other bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) were present. Vicar General Fr Pierre Tevi-Benissan read the papal declaration appointing Bishop Llanos to the diocese, who then read his oath of fidelity.
After the signing of the documents, Archbishop Rivas presented the crozier to Bishop Llanos and vacated the cathedra (bishop’s seat), symbolically allowing Bishop Llanos to take full responsibility of the diocese.
He was greeted with applause from the congregation, which included Governor General Sir Rodney Williams and Lady Williams, Prime Minister Gaston Browne, government officials, members of the diplomat corps, family and friends from his homeland of Trinidad and Tobago, and faithful from parishes across the diocese. The congregation laughed as he joked, “Now it’s too late; all of you in trouble.”
The Mass continued with the First Reading done by Bishop Llanos’ sister Ann-Marie Delzin and the Second Reading, in Spanish, by Joender Lopez of the Hispanic community. Mounted television screens offered the English translation. Deacon Robert Harvey of St Lucia proclaimed the Gospel.
The Nuncio described the installation as “a spiritual marriage” between the bishop and the diocese in his homily, and invited a member of the bishop’s family and the archdiocese from which he came to say a few words. Delzin and Archbishop Jason Gordon of Port of Spain spoke in this segment.
Before the final blessing, Bishop Llanos thanked all who contributed to the Mass and placed himself “at the service of God’s will for His people” in the diocese which comprises the islands of Antigua & Barbuda, St Kitts & Nevis, Anguilla, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands.
“I look forward to working with my priests and deacons, religious and lay faithful in all these islands so that the reign of God and a civilisation of love may prevail in all these places without exception.” He continued, “I pray that the Catholic Church in these islands may be a living example of fidelity to God and His Church and a light to the nations.”
Refreshments were served after the Mass, and a private function held at the Hodges Bay residence of Sir David Shoul, non-resident Ambassador to the Holy See. Governor General Williams and AEC President, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau brought greetings.