Cathedral parishioner Marie Lawrence died October 19 at the age of 81. Tricia Hudlin-Cooper delivered her eulogy at the funeral. It has been edited for length.
1 Peter 4:10 reminds us, ‘Each one of you has received a special grace so, like good stewards responsible for all these varied graces of God, put it at the service of others’.
This teaching in scripture became the living testimony of Marie Lawrence. Arriving in Trinidad in 1961 from her beloved St Lucia, ‘Sr Marie’ not only became a productive resident of Trinidad and Tobago, but also continued her journey of faith becoming one of the most faithful and committed members of the parish family of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
She happily became involved in the Ministry for the Sick and Aged, giving over 50 years of service. She enjoyed visiting her aged brothers and sisters in faith, determined that they should not be forgotten, simply because they were no longer able to physically attend church.
Sr Marie was a woman of deep faith and this faith she nurtured not only by attending church every Sunday but by attending and participating in groups which taught the tenets of her faith. In this vein, Sr Marie had been a member of the Charismatic Prayer Group at the Cathedral for over 40 years, religiously attending their weekly Wednesday evening meetings.
Sr Marie was a committed member of the Apostleship of Prayer the Cathedral Chapter, where she not only attended their conferences but actively spread the devotion and encouraged whoever would listen to adopt a life of prayer.
Sr Marie’s prayer life cannot be spoken about unless and until one speaks about the deep love for Our Lady and her devout praying of the rosary. Fuelled by her love for our Blessed Mother, Sr Marie was a foundation member of the Cathedral Chapter of the Rosary Confraternity. You could not miss Sr Marie in her lily-white uniform, rosary in hand, sitting in the second quadrant of the Cathedral with the rest of the Confraternity members. She was also always in attendance at the Fatima Devotions at the national Marian Shrine, Laventille.
Sr Marie supported every venture in the parish, from harvests to prayer breakfasts, to fiestas to prayer rallies. Her unforgettable and distinctive St Lucian accent and effervescent laughter saturated the area she occupied, and your spirit could not resist being lifted.
Sr Marie had been part of the Pilgrimage Team for over 40 years, with Kenny Garib and Lynette Audain. She always spoke about her deep love for brother Kenny as she saw him as a true and faithful servant and she loved the company and dedication of sister Lynette who like Sr Marie, was a Girl Guide and they would both say “once a Guide always a Guide”.
She was particularly blessed by the Ministry of Fr Kenneth Assing during his time as Administrator of the Cathedral and boasted openly of her love for him as a Man of God which was rivalled only by how much she was devoted to praying for him especially and all priests in general. Sr Marie would always say “We have to pray for them; we have to cover them. They are serving us as God’s people and the devil is very busy, we have to pray for them”.
Sr Marie was a true supporter of young people. That was where I first encountered her and our love for each other germinated and flourished. As a member of the Cathedral Youth Group, we held open-air evangelisation sessions to the front of the Cathedral on Fridays, young people under the guidance of our then Spiritual Director Fr Dwight Merrick.
Sr Marie attended all, and would always come up to me afterwards and congratulate and encourage me to keep on preaching the Word. It was such a blessing as a teenager to have an elder in faith support and encourage you.
Because she was always in church, I told her you are a real ‘poteau l’eglise’ and from that, every time I saw her, I said ‘Poto’ and she smiled and called me the same. That became our name for each other.
I remember when I was about to get married, still a member of the Youth Group, still active in church, Sr Marie only heard that I was about to get married, she went and purchased a gift and sent it with my mother for me, with the message, “Give this to my girl, tell her I am proud of her”.
Sr Marie was indeed a true prayer warrior, intercessor, evangeliser, faithful servant of God. She counselled many back to faith in God and built up the faith of countless others. She remained profuse in her thanks for her Cathedral parish which she confessed, never gave her up, from the current administrator Fr Martin Sirju to all her sisters and brothers.
Marie Lawrence, Sr Marie, ‘Poto’ your legacy is rich and will live on. Your investment of prayer for your family, your parish, young people, and priests, has yielded and will continue to yield much fruit.
We pray that the angels welcome you into paradise, where your earthly pains would be exchanged for a garment of praise and where Lazarus is poor no longer, may you enjoy eternal rest.
‘Poto’ till we meet again.