By Lara Pickford-Gordon
Giving thanks before the liturgy began, at the centennial celebration at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception November 16, Prioress General of the Corpus Christi Carmelites Sr Petronella Joseph O Carm said it was “a legacy of love”.
Thursday, November 14, 1919 was the date of arrival in Trinidad of three Carmelite Sisters from Leicester England (see page 12). Sr Petronella said the Carmelites have received graces and blessings over the century.
“Indeed, the richest source of blessings have come through you the people of God including the bishops, priests, deacons, religious, our Carmelite family, friars, tertiaries, Handmaids of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, and all of you who continue to journey with us.”
Sr Petronella said the Sisters responded without fail to the needs of the people. Today their ministries spanned helping persons “from the cradle to the grave”. “All bear testimony to the labour of love as the work of our Sisters have been referred to in recent time” she said.
The Carmelites have served in Grenada, St Vincent, St Lucia, Guyana, South America; they also worked for a time in Antigua, Barbados and Dominica. Sr Petronella took a moment to publicly ask for forgiveness on behalf of the Congregation and on her own behalf for any hurt the Carmelites may have caused while reaching out to others.
“As we continue to celebrate our journey, the joys, the triumph, sorrows of a hundred years we give thanks for the courage, the wisdom and vision of our founder through whose spirit we shall work with even greater zeal to serve the Lord with gladness,” she concluded.
The Sisters were lauded by Archbishop Jason Gordon for their “dedicated service”, “amazing work”, and “amazing witness”.
Archbishop Gordon gave thanks for the Corpus Christi Carmelite community and the many people whose lives they touched in 100 years. Highlighting their work at the L’Hospice, Observatory Street, for senior citizens he said, “That’s an amazing work of mercy; you would be a sign of God’s mercy in this Archdiocese, a sign of God’s love and grace.”
The World Day of the Poor observance was Sunday, November 17, and he commented that the Carmelites have shown “amazing witness” in the way they ministered to the marginalised, the little and the least in society. In so doing they proclaimed God’s love and Good News and showed the Church has been true to the gospel.
“As amazing as the ministry has been over the last 100 years that is only part of what religious life is about… The work is an outward manifestation of something else …that inner disposition, that inner mystery of Christ that fills us with an abundance of love,” Archbishop Gordon said.
He told the Carmelite Sisters, “What the world is crying out for today is for authentic witnesses for that mystical Catholic tradition that the Carmelites are the heralds and custodians of.
Fr Mario Esposito O Carm, Prior Provincial, North American Province of St Elias extended congratulations and prayers from all the friars of the First Order as the Corpus Christi Carmelites mark “this beautiful centenary in this Archdiocese of Port of Spain”. He was confident the Holy Spirit will continue to be present in the Carmelite charism and they will serve the Lord with gladness and zeal.
Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Bishop Emeritus Malcolm Galt and clergy concelebrated. Among the attendees were Bishop Paul Schmitz of Nicaragua, Mayor of Port of Spain Joel Martinez, and patron of the Lady Hochoy homes and centres, Zalayhar Hassanali.