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Transform hearts, take example from St Francis

Archbishop Gordon greets Chairman of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation, Martin Terry Rondon at the Sign of Peace.

Sangre Grande Parish celebrates 125th anniversary

The renewal of the Catholic Church will not happen through a programme or movement; it starts with renewal of the human heart and letting the light of Jesus Christ “shine in every nook and cranny”.

Archbishop Jason Gordon called rebuilding Church a “serious challenge” facing Catholics and noted conversion in the future would depend on authentic witness.  The archbishop presided at Mass for the 125th anniversary celebration of the St Francis of Assisi RC Church, Sangre Grande on September 2.

He advised the congregation that the naming of their church after a patron saint meant they were called to live up to the charism of their saint. “The name of the parish is so important in the life of that parish that it gives a characteristic to the people, to the community and to your mission and mandate here in Sangre Grande,” Archbishop Gordon said.

St Francis was known for his oneness with nature, and the mission given by St Francis and Pope Francis was to care for the earth, “our common home”.  Archbishop Gordon urged the parish to find a way to fulfil this mission while being a beacon of hope and light to the country.

“This is one of the urgent calls of the Church and of the world that we find a way to treat our creation differently and to find a way to live in harmony with creation much more and you have to build a consciousness of this not only for yourselves as a parish but for us as an archdiocese.”

In last Sunday’s Gospel (Mk 7:1–8, 14–15, 21–23) Jesus responds to  a question from the Pharisees and Scribes about the disciples eating with unclean hands stating it is what comes out of a person, from the heart, that makes a person unclean.

Archbishop Gordon said, “Because it is from the heart springs depravity, foolishness and indecency and fornication and lust and corruption and all these terrible things.” He added that hearts must open to allow the grace of Jesus Christ to transform hard hearts.

He asked the congregation if they would be happy if an app was invented which allowed others such as a wife, husband, child or parents to know what they were thinking and feeling. Some persons responded “no!”.

He said: “We can’t renew our Church, our society by external observances of the law or our religion. We come to Mass every Sunday. We turn up; we do what we do and leave and sometimes the grace of God evaporates before we leave the car park.”

The challenge presented in the Gospel and with the parish celebrating 125 years is: “How can we ask God to transform our hearts so that we would be completely available to God?”.  He said the Sangre Grande parish community, in good and bad times, nurtured generations of disciples. He urged parishioners to look again at discipleship and at their lives.

While Church worked by “authority” in the past; for the future it will work by “authenticity”.

“If we are not witnessing to the truth of the message of Jesus Christ then people will not listen to us and it’s as simple as that. The next generation will not be converted by the things people are saying, they are converted by the witnessing of our lives, by example to what Christ taught,” Archbishop Gordon said.