By Lara Pickford-Gordon
“Good!” “Blessed! “Revived!”
These were words used by the faithful who journeyed to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain to again touch and taste the Body of Christ. There were 89 days of waiting Archbishop Jason Gordon said at today’s Mass on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.
Many participated in the livestreamed Masses, understanding the changes were necessary because of the COVID-19 pandemic and closure of churches. Corpus Christi was no different as some viewed the Mass on television, online or listened to the radio stations with the broadcast, then headed to the Cathedral. Accessing communion albeit with precautions to prevent COVID-19 spread was an emotional experience.
Carla Raphael, St Ann’s said: “It is a relief. I feel fulfilled like I was missing something. It was really, really difficult not being able to come to Mass and worship, congregate and fellowship. Even this morning to view it online and then come here and go back to church [online]after, it feels good”.
She said of the experience receiving the communion, “I am almost to tears it feels so good.”
Daphne Carrington, Barataria said, “I feel very, very good I’ve been longing for this. My daughter is outside and she said ‘Mum, make sure and go down and get your communion today’. I feel very, very good.”
Carlton Lewis, San Juan said he had “mixed feelings” because he was not able to attend Mass for Corpus Christi but could receive the Body of Christ. The latter, made him “feel a little joyous”. Lewis said when the Cathedral was closed, he recited the rosary every morning. “That used to keep my faith so that I can honour what I am doing,” he said. Lewis said he did not have a television to view the Masses. Patricia Bedassie his wife, said it felt strange after so long but added, “as it is Corpus Christi, I feel so blessed in my heart that we could at least get the Body of Christ.”
WPC Jamilla Joseph and two colleagues were passing by and she decided to receive communion, “It feels good to get the Body after so long. It is a revival of not just the carnal body but also the spiritual body as food for the soul after so long.” PC Eshwar Ramesar, who is not Catholic said it was nice to see everybody enjoying themselves and coming back together and enjoying their religion.
MP for La Horquetta/Talparo Maxie Cuffie said, “it feels great!”. He attended Mass daily and said it was difficult to go without communion. On days he could not get the host, he did Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the Cathedral or St Ann’s RC. After the lockdown everything stopped.
Cuffie’s voice choked with emotion as he said, “I’ve been through a long, dry period”.
Andrew Buckmire, from the Morvant/Laventille Pastoral Area and another parishioner went to Our Lady of Laventille Shrine but as they waited found out communion would not be available there.
He said, “We had to find out where is the next available—Cathedral, and they said 10.15 a.m. so we rushed down and we were just glad to get in here on time and receive,” he said. His 87-year-old mother would have liked to come along but heeded the request for persons who are vulnerable to COVID-19 to remain at home.
There was a slow flow of persons to the Cathedral. Persons entered via the main gate, wearing masks, santised their hands then proceeded to one of six spots in the carpark where Eucharistic Ministers and priests were stationed.
Marks on the ground indicated where they should stand. After receiving the Host they were directed to exit through side gates. Upon leaving they were given envelopes of seeds to plant. The tradition of planting on Corpus Christi is being promoted by the Archdiocese as a family activity and in commemoration of the 5th anniversary of ‘Laudato Si’. It is a show of solidarity with the persons and organisations networking towards food security. The liturgy continued with Benediction.