The People of Praise Community celebrates a major milestone, its 30th anniversary, this Tuesday, September 24. Winston and Debbie Garcia, two founding members, share its history and ministry.
People of Praise came out of the Word of Life Community, which was a central figure in the birth and spread of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) movement in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean.
In 1989, 26 young persons from Word of Life felt compelled to concentrate on youth and young adult ministry and became People of Praise (POP).
Very early in its development, POP became known locally and regionally for its vibrant praise, worship and evangelisation; three main charisms that fuelled and continue to fuel the excitement, growth and development of the Community over three decades.
Members of POP are actively involved in multiple areas of service in our home parish of Santa Rosa, Arima. Our music ministry has been joyfully singing for the Sunday evening Mass for the past 40 years—a ministry which began when we were just a youth group.
The Community reaches out to other parishes to conduct retreats, crusades, Life in the Spirit seminars, prison ministry and other evangelistic efforts. POP also supports CCR initiatives and features prominently in leading music ministry for conferences and rallies and is often called to spearhead music liturgy for Archdiocesan events such as ordinations, episcopal installations and will be serving at the AEC Mission Congress.
Beyond the Archdiocese of Port of Spain, POP has ministered throughout the region in Barbados, Grenada, St Vincent, St Lucia, Dominica, Guyana, Suriname, Curaçao, St Kitts, Jamaica, Saba, St Eustatius, US Virgin Islands and Antigua.
The most common requests from bishops and youth coordinators are for retreats, crusades, seminars, rallies, concerts and music workshops.
Our labour of love has been recognised as we serve as Community.
Some achievements include:
• Awards from the Arima Borough Council for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Development of Youth’ in 1995 and for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Community Service’ in 2012
• Production of a CD of original musical compositions titled Kairos in 2000
• In 2014, we published Praise a Way of the Life: The Inside Story chronicling the history of the Community and our work in the mission field and produced Chaplet of the Holy Spirit on CD
• Official recognition as a Private Association of Christ’s Faithful in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain in 2018