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More than song and dance – Dec 4

More than song and dance – Dec 4 PDF Print E-mail

Revitalising Catholic Culture and IdentityBy Vernon Khelawan

On the Feast of Immaculate Conception, December 8, at 5.00 pm, Archbishop Joseph Harris will be installed as the 10th Archbishop of Port of Spain. Incorporated into the liturgy will also be the offering of Pastoral Plans for the Second Pastoral Priority Revitalising Catholic Culture and Identity by parishes, departments, schools, lay communities.

For many in Trinidad and Tobago, culture resides mainly in the realm of dance and calypso. So lewd dancing on the streets at Carnival time is blamed on culture; smutty calypsos abound and recently smut has crept into our local Christmas musical fare and this too, is regarded as culture, as is the indiscriminate use of alcohol during liming and other fete occasions.

But culture is more than that. It involves our food, our education, our sports, our Church and many other facets of life in Trinidad and Tobago, which in one way or the other impact on what happens in our Church.

Monsignor Allan Ventour, in addressing the priority during the 2009 Synod, said, “Culture is a way of life. As Catholics, our history and theology build our peculiar culture and make us unique.” He added, “God has blessed us here in Trinidad and Tobago in a very special way. He has given us the steelpan, which is a truly fascinating musical instrument.

“From the oil drum, we are able to produce beautiful sounds, which captivate us. It has become an integral part of our carnival celebration. The pan and the other forms of music, all point beyond themselves. They are included in our sacramental view of the world.” Parang music and chutney have been, over time, indelibly woven into the fabric of our culture.

Because of the diverse cultural mix which informs our society, the challenges facing Catholics in the Church’s efforts to revitalise our culture and identity, are many and varied and as such would require great resolve, excellent communications skills and determination from all, if it is to succeed.

And it is exactly because of this, we must be reminded of Monsignor Ventour’s words to the Synod almost three years ago when he said, “We must therefore be ready to uphold our Catholic Culture and Identity as living testimony to our faith and to the mission of Jesus.”