The Diocese of Bridgetown heralded the commencement of CARIFESTA XIII with a lively and uplifting celebratory Mass led by Bishop Jason Gordon at the historic St Patrick’s RC Cathedral, August 20.
In delivering his homily, Bishop Gordon conveyed the festival as a holistic way in which Catholics embrace their cultural extravaganza. He said that the artistic and creative energies of people should be used in praise of God and to showcase “who God is and who God has formed us to be as a Caribbean people”.
The Bishop described CARIFESTA XIII as an amazing occasion to celebrate and share “the whole nine yards of cultural identity, all of which has made us who we are, the good, the bad and the ugly”, adding that the faithful should never see themselves as victims but rather people full of capacity to do great things.
“Rather than standing right there in the challenge and facing it head-on and making hard decisions, many of our people are opting out, sitting down and crying that they are victims and therefore they are not participating in the drama of Caribbean civilisation.” Caribbean people, he said, have had to navigate the tight space that is the Caribbean, and without institutions and academies set up properly, the Caribbean still produced world-renowned artistes.
Using Bob Marley, Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite, George Lamming and others as examples, Bishop Gordon said “What is essential to us in the Caribbean is the negotiation of those tight spaces … and (still) produce excellence.”
The Bishop’s message was absorbed by a largely youthful congregation wearing the national dress of their respective countries including 70 members of the diocese’s annual Catholic Information Course (CAINCO), now in its 40th year.
This year, Barbados hosted the CARIFESTA XIII for the second time since 1981. The 10-day August 17– 27 festival brought together some of the most talented artists, musicians and performers from the Caribbean and the Americas under the theme Asserting Our Culture and Celebrating Ourselves.
A proud moment for the Catholic family was the performance of ‘Make Us One’ by the combined youth choir and musicians. This song was written and arranged by Ashlee Tang, one of Barbados’ talented young artistes and a young Catholic.
The celebration continued in the churchyard after the Mass, with an injection of Barbadian culture in the spirited performances of Pompasette Tuk band led by ‘Froggy’ Smith playing the penny whistle, accompanied by ‘Mother Sally’ and Dancin’ Africa dancers. The Tuk band is a trio of musicians playing the kettle drum, bass drum and penny whistle. Everyone enjoyed this addition to the festivities and the delicious refreshments that completed the hospitality.
Attendees were also wowed by an art exhibition assembled in the church hall, featuring over 40 original paintings of members of the Catholic community under the theme Windows to the Soul. Some artists contributing to the amazing display of work included Chris Richards, Cathy Alkins, Patrick Forde and Chris Alleyne.
The diocese’s activities for CARIFESTA culminated with Bishop Gordon delivering a paper ‘The challenge and opportunity of technology to Caribbean culture and identities’, August 22 at the UWI CARIFESTA XIII Symposium. The bishop was also a participant on the Cultural Industries and Economic development panel.