By Cheryl-Ann Mader, CFC Handmaid
The Couples for Christ (CFC) Handmaids of the Lord’s (HOLD) Caribbean Conference was hosted this year by the Spice Isle of the Caribbean, Grenada, July 14–16. With three days of intense training, sharing and caring, the theme of the conference focused on Stand Firm in the Faith taken from 1 Corinthians 16:13–14 with the personalised HOLD theme, My heart in your hands. The sessions were held at the parish hall of the Blessed Sacrament Church, Grand Anse.
On the Friday evening, leader of the CFC National Council in Grenada, Bobby Williams and his wife Indra welcomed all and asked that we enjoy, not endure, the conference. These words turned out to be prophetic as there were some delays to the start of the evening’s agenda because of technical difficulties with the PowerPoint presentation and videos ‘Handmaids on Tour’.
Mere minutes into the presentation, there was a blackout in the area. We could not have even seen our noses! Undaunted, we continued with praise and worship. Not long after, it was as if God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.
Each of the five sessions were spiritually nourishing as we explored topics such as: ‘Journey of Faith’; ‘Crisis in Faith; Spiritual Warfare’ – becoming more aware of the devil’s tactics – deception, division, diversion and discouragement; ‘Warriors on our knees’, and lastly ‘My heart in your hands’ which referenced 1 Corinthians 16:14 ‘Your every act should be done with love’.
There were periods of reflection and activities geared toward cementing what we had learnt, imparted by the various Caribbean speakers and Sylvia Delacuesta, Regional Co-ordinator for HOLD Caribbean.
Saturday evening’s cultural event was unforgettable. After the lavish dinner, the entertainment began. The Grenadians performed a beautiful folklore story which grabbed everyone’s attention. Though the Trini contingent never practised any routine, no-one would have known as the four ladies who represented the group owned the stage and danced to the tune ‘Trini to d Bone’ as if they had some experience with a professional dance troupe. At end of the night, those who were able took to the floor to show their electric-slide moves.
Sunday morning soon came and Fr Clifton Harris OP delivered a powerful homily, encouraging parents never to give up on their children. He referred to 2 Timothy 1:18, highlighting that we must bear our share of hardships which the Gospel entails, comforted by God’s mercy and encouraged us to ‘look, learn and love’.
He emphasised that correction must be done with firmness and love, never arrogance. Referencing Pope Francis, he said, “Pastors must smell like their sheep”.
Bishop Emeritus Malcolm Galt CSSp was also very supportive and concelebrated one of the Masses. In his fine style, he gave the vote of thanks on behalf of the Handmaids and prayed a blessing over all at the close of the conference.
It was announced that the annual conference will be hosted next year, July 12–15 in Trinidad and Tobago as we celebrate 20 years of CFC’s presence in Trinidad and Tobago. Planning for this mega conference has already begun as we stand firm in living out our motto, ‘Families in the Holy Spirit, renewing the face of the earth’.