Story and photos by Laura Ann Phillips
St Theresa’s Parish, Woodbrook, and the students of St Theresa’s RC Primary celebrated their patronal feast September 30 with Mass and a brief procession.
Chief celebrant, Archbishop Jason Gordon, told the congregation of about 500 that having attended both St Patrick’s, Newtown and St Theresa’s in his youth, he had “lived his teenaged years between two great saints”.
Contrasting St Patrick’s life as the great missionary to Ireland with St Thérèse of Lisieux’s hidden life in a Carmelite convent in France, he pointed out that both found their particular paths to holiness. And, with God’s help, anyone could.
“We are all called to sanctity,” he said. “God has given you every gift and grace to become a saint,” with none too sinful to qualify. For “as we make our journey to Christ, we have a figure to guide us.”
St Thérèse, also known as the ‘Little Flower’, died of tuberculosis at the age of 24, yet her life and writings continue to inspire people to desire the holiness that is within reach.
“With St Thérèse, everyone can follow her way,” said Archbishop Gordon. “Each person can do great and extraordinary things in their lives. How many times a day are we faced with the choice of doing the loving thing or the other thing?”
Or, he added, find ourselves being harsh with someone, whom we may really love, in an honest attempt to help them? He advised St Thérèse’s way. “Pouring love on them is the quickest way to change someone because we wind up being the changed person.”
The parish of St Theresa’s, he mused, “refers to a geographical space… a whole community of people under the patronage of St Thérèse”. A patron saint, “gives us a sense of how we have been called, as a parish, to serve God.”
Considering “the different ways in which God calls people to become saints,” said Archbishop Gordon, “it is certain that each person has a particular path to holiness…Pray to find the path of sanctity God has called you to; ask God to show you that path. Make that the most important thing in your life!”
Among those attending the Mass was concelebrant and parish priest, Fr John Theodore CSSp and the Holy Faith Sisters based in Woodbrook. The Irish order was invited to Trinidad in 1947 to assume responsibility for running the school. Today, they continue to serve there and in the parish.
Past pupils, some from the years when the school included a secondary education department prior to 1980, were also seen dotted among the congregation, some of them currently in active ministry in the parish.