Deacon Derek Walcott cautioned followers of Catholicism from being identified only by their attendance at Masses. “How are we manifesting our faith in our workplaces?” he asked at the noon Service last Monday, the first day of the Catholics in the Workplace TT (CiWTT) Lenten retreat at the Holy Rosary RC Church, Port of Spain. The theme was: You shall be my witnesses in the workplace.
He presented a figure of 300,000 Catholics but of these only five per cent was exercising their faith.
Quoting Pope Francis, Deacon Walcott said, “Today’s world stands in great need of witnesses, it is not so much about speaking but rather speaking with our whole lives, living consistently.” At Mass on January 26, the Holy Father stated in his homily, “the spirit of timidity goes against the spirit of faith”.
Deacon Walcott observed persons from other Christian faiths stood up and proclaimed ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’ but Catholics kept their mouths closed. “We have scripture; we have the sacraments; we have tradition; and we say nothing.” He mentioned Pope Francis’ urging Catholics to not be timid in a workplace: “Shame on those who say ‘yes, I have faith’ but cover it up so it is not plainly seen.”
Testifying to the Catholic faith was not just about the prayers recited or Mass attendance every Sunday but relationships with others. “How do we love our brothers and sisters…how do we forgive? Are we compassionate in the workplace? Do we work together as a team or is it all about me and I and how fast I can get to the top so I don’t care who I have to stand on, who I have to mauvais langue…who I have to complain about.”
He questioned if the Catholic worker reached out to their colleagues who were “catching their nennen”—experiencing hard times.
Deacon Walcott referred to author Kevin Lowry’s book Faith at Work: Finding Purpose Beyond the Paycheck (2011). “Our primary call as Catholics, Christians is to evangelise…it is in taking Jesus’ love to others that we are his beloved disciples,” Walcott said. He added there were countless ways to live the faith without being offensive to others of other religions.
With some workers spending more time at work than with their families, the workplace provides “one of the best opportunities in our daily life to grow in holiness”.
All that is needed is the right perspective and a willingness to let God lead, said Deacon Walcott. He suggested initiating prayer at work so co-workers can pray for each other, the work they do, and the challenges they face.
He said praying together brought compassion to the workplace because when God is invoked in the workplace: “He brings all His love”.
CiWTT Coordinator Mark Carmino said, “This retreat is for persons who may not have had an opportunity to go to a retreat and also to encourage people to join CiWTT.”
The group promotes spiritual practices like the Examen, Lectio Divina, Sacrament of Reconciliation, the Rosary, Christian Meditation, The Angelus, First Friday Holy Mass. Catholics are encouraged to “take up these practices” and Carmino said CiWTT can be contacted to explain them.
“At the end of the day we want to show that you cannot be a Catholic on Sunday morning or Saturday evening in church and you are a different person otherwise. You have to build that life 24/7.”
The retreat continued for the week with Archbishop Jason Gordon the homilist and celebrant on the last day, April 5. -LPG