President of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau (Dominica) has expressed concern for the crisis in Venezuela and the concomitant refugee situation as experienced in Trinidad and neighbouring countries.
He however commended the Archdiocese of Port of Spain for its efforts in creating a ministry towards the people they receive. Bishop Malzaire acknowledged that the bishops are “at a loss to know how else we can assist as a Conference, in a crisis which is escalating in magnitude”.
In delivering his address at the 63rd Annual Plenary Meeting (APM) in Cayenne, French Guiana, May 5–11, the AEC president spoke of other areas of concern to the Assembly of bishops.
He mentioned the functioning of the AEC Commission and “continued concern” of the status of the Caribbean Conference of Churches. “It would be a great achievement if we could leave this meeting with a clearer idea of how we can approach this impasse,” he said.
The bishop’s six-page document which was sent to Catholic News chronicled events and appointments since the last APM from April 2018 to February 2019. In it he commended the efforts of the AEC Communication Commission for the strides they have made with regard to the use of the web platform for convening meetings and facilitating online courses. This he said has significantly reduced costs associated with meetings and conferences.
Bishop Malzaire provided an update on the Integrated Pastoral Plan for Communication (IPCP). He outlined that since the last APM, 82 participants, including seven bishops from 11 arch/dioceses successfully completed a three-week E-seminar on Pastoral Communication: New Ways of Being Church in a Digital Milieu, facilitated by Sr Angela Ann Zukowski of Dayton University. According to his data, the Archdiocese of Port of Spain saw the most participants—14.
With regard to vocations in the regions, Bishop Malzaire said that there are signs of hope. He shared that presently there is an enrolment of ten students in formation at the Seminary of St John Vianney and The Uganda Martyrs. Additionally, the Archdiocese of Kingston has reopened its doors to a present enrolment of nine students which is expected to grow to about 20 in September.
The AEC president shared that during the Permanent Board Meeting in January, the idea of two seminaries serving as two separate facilities (Kingston for Philosophy and Port of Spain for Theology) was “entertained”.
Commenting on the vision of the AEC, Bishop Malzaire said that the bishops need to ask whether the available gifts of the Church in the region are being sufficiently harnessed for its required growth.
To this end, he said it’s necessary for them to continue to work on the areas highlighted at their last APM, namely: Biblical Animation of all Pastoral Life (ABP) in the Dioceses; IPCP; Stewardship as a Way of Life in Dioceses and Parishes of the AEC; Mission and Evangelisation in the Caribbean and working towards a Strategic Agenda for Catholic Education in the region. – KJ