THE early morning’s light rain may have been God’s way of showering blessings on seminarians Stephan Alexander, Kwesi Alleyne, Mikkel Trestrail and Kenwyn Sylvester who were ordained deacons last weekend.
Families, friends and well-wishers of the candidates gathered February 23 at the St Philip and St James Church, Chaguanas to witness the young men take another step in their faith journey. The ordination Mass also streamed live on Facebook. A combined choir with members from GRACE, Gasparillo, San Raphael, El Socorro, Chaguanas parishes and Mt St Benedict led the lively singing.
The nearby Max Murphy Centre on the church compound had additional chairs and a television screen to accommodate those unable to find seating in the church for the special liturgy.
The First Reading was taken from Exodus 3:1–6 and 9–12 (Moses meets God in the form of a burning bush) while the Second Reading was Hebrews 11:1–7 (faith and faith building). Rev Lindsay John proclaimed the Gospel from Mark 9:2–13, ‘The Transfiguration’.
Chief celebrant Archbishop Jason Gordon centred his homily on each of the readings focusing on God’s grace and the importance of faith in our lives. He said that when God hears the cries of His people, He sends out persons who can help. This was the call to the candidates.
Archbishop Gordon said “Vocation is to be called to” and that “in this time when the Church is bleeding on every side” with the haemorrhage “open for all to see because the wound is foul and festering, the result of our own folly… God called you to be a deacon, and, God willing, one day to be a priest.” He said it was only through faith that one can answer His call.
Faith, he continued, is not a thing, but a relationship with God, and to keep our faith in God “we must be able to keep that relationship alive”.
Archbishop Gordon also stated that it was by faith that then Archbishop Joseph Harris reopened the seminary and the candidates answered the call to service. He added they walk by faith and not by sight, noting that Trestrail is visually impaired.
Seminary rector Msgr Allan Ventour led the Rite of Ordination after the homily. Archbishop Gordon laid his hands and prayed for each of the candidates. They were presented with the Book of the Gospels and vested in their stole and dalmatic by family.
After being vested, they were introduced by the Archbishop and were greeted by the clergy. The newly ordained deacons were then escorted to the Max Murphy Centre to a cheering congregation.
Deacons Alexander, Alleyne and Sylvester began their journey at a seminary in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, as the seminary at Mt St Benedict was closed at the time. They returned to Trinidad to complete their studies when the seminary was reopened in 2017.
Deacon Trestrail, a founding member of the Companions of the Transfigured Christ, completed his course of studies in theology at the seminary, and also studied in the USA.
All four deacons contributed to the vote of thanks, thanking all who contributed on their journey: archbishops, clergy, parish communities, families and friends. The four new deacons will, God willing, be ordained priests later this year.— with reporting by Marisha Darneaud, Tortuga Parish