THE 35th annual meeting of the Association of Diocesan Clergy of the Province of Castries was convened at the Benedictine Monastery at Coubaril, St Lucia from Sunday, February 10 to Friday 15.
Priests and deacons from the five dioceses of the Province participated in this year’s meeting. The first official event was the Opening Mass at Our Lady of Fatima Church, La Clery. In the absence of the Metropolitan Archbishop Robert Rivas OP of Castries, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau and President of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) presided.
In his report on the provincial clergy meeting, Msgr William John-Lewis said that Bishop Malzaire in his homily, using the scriptures of the day as a point of departure, reflected on the challenges of evangelisation in today’s world.
He underscored the theme of the meeting and emphasised the importance of taking advantage of all the new technology available, having, the Bible in one hand “and the tablet, iPad, or iPhone in the next in our preparation for spreading the Good News.”
New Ways of Being Church in A Digital Milieu was the topic for study at the provincial meeting. Msgr John-Lewis shared that Tuesday was dedicated to the study and application of the pastoral letter.
In his contribution, he made an explanatory PowerPoint presentation highlighting the relevance of the document in the work of evangelisation. Following the initial presentation, he invited the participants to break into their respective dioceses to begin working on the Integrated Pastoral Communications Plan (IPCP) that is suggested as the ultimate goal of the document, namely, that each diocese would devise an IPCP which would be used in forming a similar plan for the AEC.
In the afternoon session, media experts were invited to share on the importance of the use of radio, and certain aspects of social media in implementing the pastoral letter.
Wednesday was dedicated to school visits as vocations promotion remains an important activity for the meeting. Both primary and secondary schools were visited, with clergy sharing their own vocation story and engaging students in reflecting on the possibility that God might be calling them to priesthood, diaconate or Consecrated life.
Msgr John-Lewis mentioned that over the past few years, a fundraising concert, with performances mainly from the clergy, has become an important aspect of the provincial meeting. This year, the concert, coincided with Valentine’s Day. The theme for that night was Love.
At the business session held Thursday morning, Msgr John-Lewis, the zonal Representative of the Catholic Biblical Federation, informed the meeting that the Biblical Federation was promoting 2020 as the Year of the Word of God, that is, from the First Sunday of Advent 2019 to the Feast of St Jerome, September 30, 2020. In this regard he suggested that the Association consider ‘The Word of God’ as the theme of next year’s meeting.
The last day of the meeting included a tour of the island, the highlights being the town of Soufrière with a visit to the Fond Doux Resort, a former cocoa plantation, for lunch; followed by a trek up the hill of Tet Paul with spectacular views of the imposing Pitons.
The next meeting will take place April 19–25, 2020 in the Diocese of St John’s–Basseterre, Antigua.