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December 31, 2017
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December 31, 2017

Remain in Christ, turn tests into testimonies

Pope Francis clasps hands with a person at the "Regional Hub," a government-run processing center for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, in Bologna, Italy, Oct. 1. The pope is seen wearing a yellow ID bracelet with his name and a number, just like the immigrants and refugees at the center. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano) See POPE-CESENA-BOLOGNA Oct. 2, 2017.

By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ, & Director, CREDI
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Today, the last day of 2017, we have an opportunity to review the past year and to plan for 2018.

It was on December 28, 2016 that my father, Balgobin Ramdeen, passed away in hospital in London. My siblings and I were angry as we felt that he died because of hospital negligence. I quarreled with God. His funeral was held on January 5, 2017 and I had to deliver the Eulogy.

God calmed me as I reflected on what a privilege it was that God had placed my siblings and me in Pa’s care. I was not going to let my anger steal the joy of having had such a wonderful father to teach and guide me. My dear mother, Ruby Ramdeen (nee Manning), had died in 1995. Together, Ma and Pa raised us well.

Always remember that if you are not connected with God, if you don’t have a relationship with Him, it is easy to let negative emotions spiral out of control.

As we approach 2018, reflect on the words in John 15:5: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty.” I am sure that like me, you have learned many important lessons over the past year. Let us go forward into 2018 wiser and turn our tests into testimonies.

On Monday we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and the World Day of Peace. As Pope Francis said in 2017: “To begin the year by recalling God’s goodness in the maternal face of Mary, in the maternal face of the Church, in the faces of our own mothers, protects us from the corrosive disease of being ‘spiritual orphans’… Celebrating the feast of the Holy Mother of God makes us smile once more as we realize that we are a people, that we belong, that only within a community, within a family, can we as persons find the ‘climate’, the ‘warmth’ that enables us to grow in humanity…

“To celebrate the feast of the Holy Mother of God reminds us that…we are God’s People… We want to meet her maternal gaze. The gaze that frees us from being orphans; the gaze that reminds us that we are brothers and sisters, that I belong to you, that you belong to me, that we are of the same flesh. The gaze that teaches us that we have to learn how to care for life in the same way and with the same tenderness that she did: by sowing hope, by sowing a sense of belonging and of fraternity.”

It is this sense of fraternity that is reflected in Pope Francis’ World Day of Peace Message 2018 entitled: ‘Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in search of Peace’ .CCSJ’s Newsletter for January will focus on the six sections in this message and will be available on our website.

The Holy Father reminded us that there are “over 250 million migrants worldwide, of whom 22.5 million are refugees” who risk their lives in their search for somewhere to live in peace. Inter alia, he said:  “In a spirit of compassion, let us embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands. We know that it is not enough to open our hearts to the suffering of others. Much more remains to be done before our brothers and sisters can once again live peacefully in a safe home. Welcoming others requires concrete commitment…”

Read the Message to learn about his strategy that could help countries offer “asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and victims of human trafficking an opportunity to find the peace they seek”. Currently, there is no legislation in T&T that deals specifically with asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants.

UNHCR, the United Nations refugee agency, through its honorary liaison with Living Water Community’s Ministry for Migrants and Refugees continues to work with the relevant authorities to put in place policies and legislation that will address this human rights issue.

Happy New Year. May God’s love light our way.