|Coastal celebrations – Jul 22
By Vernon Khelawan
In the recent past, I visited three coastal parishes as they celebrated their patronal feasts with varying levels of pomp and pageantry, but rich in their own cultural expressions. The spirit of revitalisation really shone through brightly in Blanchisseuse last weekend, when the parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, was virtually overwhelmed, as supporters from all corners of the archdiocese converged in their numbers on the one-street village, to the great delight of new parish priest Fr Leslie Tang Kai.
Intermittent rain failed to dampen the spirit of celebration, with participation shared almost equally by young and old. When Catholics from all walks of life and economic circumstances would travel to this sleepy, far-flung fishing village on the North Coast to celebrate their feast day, it has to be recognised as a refreshing and revitalising event.
The other two experiences were celebrations marking of the feast of St Peter in Mayaro and in Carenage, which share the same patron saint. The dilapidated church in Mayaro has not stunted attendance at weekend Masses, and the lively Mass by Fr Trevor Nathasingh I attended, was not lacking in vibrant music and singing by the church’s enthusiastic choir.
This seaside church, badly in need of urgent renovations or a complete makeover was full to overflowing, maybe because of the children making their First Communion, but the enthusiasm generated by a congregation not negatively impacted by the condition of their place of worship, was a true revelation of Catholic culture and identity.
Finally at, perhaps, the most popular observance of the feast, St Peter’s in Carenage, the traditional annual ritual of the blessing of the fishing boats was conducted once again by parish priest Msgr Cuthbert Alexander to the delight of parishioners and visitors.
That this particular ritual has endured over decades, speaks volumes for Catholic culture, as expressed in Carenage. Villagers – Catholic and non-Catholics – will tell you St Peter’s Day without the blessing of the sea and the boats will not be accepted, not only by parishioners but residents as well.