By Lara Pickford-Gordon
If you’ve never heard of the 3Hs or MATs you missed some developments in 2019.
This year we were ‘baptised and sent’ from the first ever Antilles Episcopal Congress on Mission; the Archdiocese had reason to celebrate as six men were ordained to the priesthood; youths lobbied for the climate; and parishes rallied to meet the needs of a growing number of migrants from Venezuela fleeing their nation’s crisis.
Here are just some of the highlights of the past year.
It was a hectic year for the Archdiocese as the 3Hs—Hospitality, Hymns and Homilies, focus areas from the Archdiocesan Pastoral Plan were promoted to get all on board.
Archbishop Jason Gordon’s message in Catholic News (CN) January 27 announced the focus on the 3Hs in 2019 to “renew the Sunday experience”. The logo for the 3 H’s was launched. A series of articles from clergy on the 3Hs were carried in the CN in the following months.
Parishes were also asked to implement MATs – Ministry Animation Teams to assist with effective running of ministries and execution of the 3 Hs. The first sensitisation meeting, for the Northern Vicariate on the MATs took place at Benet Hall, Mt St Benedict March 30. Other meetings were held for parishes in the Eastern Vicariate, and Central and Suburban Vicariates (CN Apr 28).
Deacons Stephan Alexander, Kwesi Alleyne, Kenwyn Sylvester and Mikkel Trestrail were ordained to the priesthood September 14 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Deacon Trestrail who is blind is a founding member of the Companions of the Transfigured Christ and the first founding member of an ecclesial community to be ordained.
Archbishop Gordon said the ordinations were the third largest in local Church history. He told the new priests “…understand that there is no power or salvation except through the cross”. (CN Sep 22)
Deacons Jeffrey Supersad and Lindsay John were ordained to the priesthood March 24 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Archbishop Gordon commented that the ordinations were long in coming but God relentlessly pursued the men and brought them to that moment (CN Mar 31).
It was a 27 year wait for the Benedictines to witness an ordination of one of their own as Br Anthony Buaful OSB was ordained a deacon by Archbishop Gordon on November 30 at the Abbey church, Mt St Benedict (CN Dec 8).
There were other ordinations: Rev Ako Trevor Walker CSsR was ordained a Redemptorist priest by Bishop Gerard County CSSp of Kingstown at Assumption Church, Maraval on February 16 and Rev Jessie Maingot OP was ordained a priest August 7 at St Finbar’s RC, Diego Martin (CN Aug 25). Meanwhile, Br Mikhail Woodruffe O Carm made his profession of solemn vows August 24 at Our Lady of Mt Carmel, Middletown, New York. He was ordained to the diaconate September 7 (CN Sep 1). Jonathan Steele from Arima made his first profession as a Carmelite and Gregg Durham from St Joseph received his religious habit and began his novitiate at Middletown (CN Jun 16).
Catholic News reported February 17 on the meeting Archbishop Gordon had with 250 Confirmation catechists at Holy Faith Convent, Couva January 26 “to discuss the way forward on the preparation of candidates for the Sacrament of Confirmation”.
Archbishop Gordon stressed the programme was in transition and adapting was ongoing until “we get the right fit” for the young people.
First Communion catechists met February 9 to follow-up on consultation held March 2018. Change was also stressed in this session. Catechists were told by coordinator of the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office, Sr Juliet Rajah HF that the world had changed from when God was the backdrop of everything and this influenced people’s lives and decisions (CN, Feb 17).
AEC Mission Congress
CN February 24 reported that the general aim is to “give an important impulse to the process of strengthening Church life throughout the AEC arch/dioceses in accordance with Pope Francis’ vision of an active Church that powerfully witnesses to Christ and that has a missionary zeal”.
The Congress held September 18–22, had as its theme The Church of Christ on mission in the world. The first-time event was preparation for the Church’s Extraordinary Mission Month in October. The programme had rallies in Trinidad and Tobago specifically for students and other days was open to all. A grand AEC Mission Rally scheduled for the Queen’s Park Savannah to close the Congress had to be shifted to the Centre of Excellence, Macoya and the closing Mass moved up to the morning due to Tropical Storm Karen. At the close AEC President Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau commissioned all to “go out, teach, preach, sanctify the world in the way God has called you by virtue of your baptism”.
Something for men
The National Catholic Men’s Ministry was launched March 19 (St Joseph’s Day) at the Cathedral. At the launch Archbishop Gordon said “we are calling forth men to the vocation, to contemplate your vocation, to discern it and to live it…”
Climate change lobby
More than 500 students from primary and secondary schools of Port of Spain and environs gathered at the grounds of Archbishop’s House May 24 for Laudato Si’ Student-Solidarity Climate March and Ceremony entitled: ‘Young Voices Cry: Respect Protect and Save the Planet Today for Tomorrow’.
They chanted “We demand change!” The students presented petitions to then Deputy Head of Mission of the Apostolic Nunciature Msgr Julien Kaboré, Vicar General Fr Martin Sirju, Chief Executive Officer Catholic Education Board of Management Sharon Mangroo and others.
The march was hosted by the Franciscan Institute for the 4th anniversary of Laudato Si’: On Care for our Common Home and joined with global activities with Catholic youth.
An academic forum ‘Hear the Cry of the Earth and the Cry of the Poor’ was held May 23 at the UWI Catholic Chaplaincy, St Augustine with discussion focusing on core themes of the encyclical.
The inflow of persons from Venezuela continued in 2019. CN June 9 reported on the work of parishes, St Dominic’s Penal, and the collective effort of Nativity, St Finbar’s, St Anthony’s, St Peter’s to also meet the spiritual needs of the migrant community with Spanish Masses.
A school was established by the La Romaine Migrant Support group providing basic literacy and numeracy and socialisation skills.
The Living Water Community, Ministry for Migrants and Refugees opened the St Therese Centre for Education Training on July 30. Located at Saddle Road, Maraval the focus of the centre is education and training initiatives. There will be English as a Second Language classes, vocational skills training and other programmes particularly for youth (CN August 11).
Bishop Jaime José Villarroel Rodriguez of Carupano diocese in Venezuela, had a pastoral visit to Trinidad August 22–25 during which he held meetings with representatives of the United States, United Nations, and the Ministry of National Security’s Counter Trafficking Unit. He visited the southern parishes of La Romaine, Penal and San Fernando to interact with migrants in these communities (CN Sept 1).
Simone Francois-Whittier was appointed coordinator of the Archdiocesan Ministry to Migrants and Refugees (AMMR) of the Catholic Commission for Social Justice. (CN Nov 3).
Fr Robert Stark SSS, regional coordinator of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Integral Human Development visited T&T December 17–20. During his visit he went to parishes in the Northwestern, Eastern and Southern Vicariates with migrant ministries. He also met with the AMMR and Living Water Community. Discussions were also scheduled with government and non-governmental organisations.
Generation S in collaboration with Catholic Media Services Ltd and the Catholic Youth Commission launched ‘Call on Canvas’, the latest vocations promotion in the Archdiocese (CN Sep 1). Young people and young adults were invited to use their artistic talents to depict the call stories of the Bible.
“…to indigenise the call story or, to put it in other words, paint or draw the call story in a way as if it was taking place in local space in our present time”, said Fr Matthew d’Hereaux, episcopal vicar for Vocations and Formation.
Rosary for Life
The 40-days Rosary for Life spearheaded by the Emmanuel Community focusing on prayer intentions for the unborn, children, family, the nation and Catholic Church started July 31 and ended September 8 with a candlelight Marian procession around the Queen’s Park Savannah. Archbishop Gordon held the praying of the rosary at Archbishop’s House August 21 at the midway point.
The Catholic Religious Education Development Institute hosted a leadership conference at the Centre of Excellence, Macoya August 1 to strengthen leadership in Church. Participants from the School of Liturgy (July 29–August 3) and representatives of parishes attended. The speaker was Chris Lowney, US writer, public speaker and leadership consultant.
The Corpus Christi Carmelites celebrated their centenary of arrival in Trinidad November 16. A series of articles were published on their history leading up to the anniversary date. The Port of Spain City Corporation presented them the keys to the city October 30. (CN Nov 10).
Morne Diable RC School attained 70 years as an educational institution and Corpus Christi College had their diamond jubilee September 8.
There were silver anniversaries for: The Caribbean Theology Today; The Caribbean School of Catholic Communications (CN Aug 11); Towers of Strength Community (CN Aug 18); Lady Hochoy Vocational Centre (CN Sep 29).
The Catholic Men’s Ministry attained 20 years. It was started in August 1999 by Winston Garcia, Christo Gouveia, Rev Paul Bousignac and Fr Dwight Merrick to bring men together for a day of prayer and fellowship.
Churches also marked history: Our Lady of Montserrat RC, Tortuga, 140 years. Parishioners declared 2019 a year of celebration for the many years of Marian intercession, protection and love. (CN May 20); St Ann’s RC celebrated 175 years in November (CN Nov 3).