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August 30, 2017
Heal our broken land
August 30, 2017

Priests ‘sweet hand’ to help schools

Photographer and St Mary’s, Mucurapo parishioner Anthony Aqui (right) serves AEC General Secretary Fr John Persaud some pepper shrimp at the parish’s ‘Men who Cook’ fundraiser in May. Later this month, Fr Persaud may be among the priests doing the serving. Photo: Lara Pickford-Gordon

Archbishop Joseph Harris will join 75 priests and deacons in showcasing their culinary talents at ‘Priests Can Cook’ September 29, 6.30 – 10.30 p.m. at St John’s Ambulance Brigade Compound. Proceeds from the fundraiser go toward assisting Our Lady of Laventille, Diego Martin Boys’, Petit Valley Boys’ and La Romaine RC schools with infrastructure and social programmes for parents and students.

The Education Ministry provides “a good portion of” funding for schools for salaries of teachers and operating costs of the school but “not all”. ‘Priests Can Cook’ will raise funds “to contribute in a greater way to the management” of RC schools.

Although students at Catholic schools have been excelling, there were others who may not be because of various reasons, said Sharon Mangroo, Chief Executive Officer of the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) at last Tuesday’s media launch at Archbishop’s House.

“We want to focus on providing a nurturing environment for those students; we want to be able to provide for them what in many cases might be missing. Research is showing in many cases when students are not performing at school they need some assistance at home,” Mangroo said. She added that the Catholic Church has always been there for this purpose. “We look forward to support and we ask everyone to join us.”

The event is spearheaded by staff of the human resource department of the Archdiocese and the CEBM. Rev Roy Raghunanan, Episcopal Delegate gave an overview of how the project came about. He said 75 members of clergy have committed to the event. He described the response from priests and parishes as “tremendous”.  “The tickets have been going well,” Rev Raghunanan said.

Archbishop Joseph Harris said his participation in ‘Priests Can Cook’ could be the first time an Archbishop of Port of Spain will be cooking at a fundraiser. He joked, “It is not surprising to me that priests could cook. What surprised me was when they wanted me to cook.”

He said in the past people easily volunteered their skills for the benefit of their children and the community but this did not happen as much today. Archbishop Harris said it was unfortunate that to do anything worthwhile these days required money.  Referring to the perception of the Church in the Caribbean as a begging Church, “with our hands stuck out all the time looking for funds from somebody,” he said this had to change.

“We are being urged by Rome to change that; our Church has to become a Church that looks after itself and doing things to look after itself and support itself. Among those things, of course, is Catholic education.” He highlighted Catholic education as one of the pillars in the evangelising efforts of the Church. The means had to be found to conduct Catholic education in a way that it helped the country’s development and people.“That is not easy, it costs quite a bit and so I give my full support to this enterprise,” he said. Asked about what dish he will be preparing for the event, Archbishop Harris was giving no hints saying only it will be a surprise.

Tickets for ‘Priests can Cook’ cost $250 and are being sold through parish offices. A ticket entitles patrons to a choice of three meats, two desserts, a wide choice of side dishes and drinks from the non-alcoholic bar. Live entertainment will be provided by Desperadoes Steel Orchestra, the Camejo family, Sacred Heart Girls’ RC, Take 5 band, and a DJ. – LPG