The St Joseph RC has a “spiritual, cultural, religious” legacy and Catholics need to “get the word out” for its preservation said Fr Matthew d’ Hereaux, parish priest on February 18.
At 204 (1815–2015), this heritage site is older than the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Fr d’Hereaux said, “It has significance in terms of St Joseph being the first capital.” He said the restoration of the church had to be “on the plate” of Catholics and National Trust.
Underscoring the significance of “sacred spaces” to the psyche of Catholics in particular he said: “Restoration of a church building says the Church is important to you; sacred spaces are important to you. There must be some connection with love of God and love of the sacred because church is a place set aside to God, dedicated for God and to see a church deteriorate is to say something about our attitudes to the sacred, our attitudes to the historical, our attitudes to legacy.”
Responding to an email from the Catholic News, Fr d’Hereaux said a number of fundraising initiatives took place in 2018. He thanked all parishioners in St Joseph and throughout the Archdiocese assisting the restoration fund. The project has been divided into phases: phase one, TT$4 million; and phase two, TT$4 million. Fr d’Hereaux said the parish is not daunted and would work assiduously: “God will do the rest”. Upcoming events include a Poor Man’s Dinner on Sunday, April 7 at the St Joseph Girls’ RC School and Beauty and the Beast at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) Port of Spain Friday, May 31.
Interviewed at the St Joseph RC on February 18, he gave a “wishlist” of what he’d like to see happen with fundraising. First, for clubs, and non-governmental organisations to get involved; secondly, he hoped for an “an organisataion akin to friends of St Joseph,”. “I would like to see people come on board, people who are good at networking,” Fr d’Hereaux said.
St Finbar’s RC Diego Martin collaborated with a luncheon and Christ the King RC, Les Efforts made a contribution from their harvest. There are 600–700 parishioners at Mass on weekends, Fr d’Hereaux said they were “saturated” so he hoped for persons “who would be able to run a fair or a harvest in the Savannah, or Botanical Gardens who will be able to do concerts and organise artistes to put on a concert, who can look at the planning and execution.” He added, “That’s my wish list to network with the wider community—Catholics and non-Catholics who can help in this regard.”
Members of the public can contribute to the Restoration Fund with a cheque to RC ARCHBISHOP OF POS–St Joseph. They can also contact any branch of Republic Bank and donate to the account RC Archbishop of POS–St Joseph, account #350253965101.
Fr d’Hereaux appealed for help selling the tickets for the show at NAPA. “We are aiming to sell 1,200 tickets for the event. Parishes and/or individuals can contact us to help in this regard,” he said.