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A moment of grace

Deacon Stephan Alexander addresses the congregation with Deacons Kwesi Alleyne (from left), Mikkel Trestrail and Kenwyn Sylvester at their ordination Mass on February 23. Photo: Elmo Griffith

By Leela Ramdeen, Chair, CCSJ, & Director, CREDI

IT was with great joy that many of us gathered at the Church of St Philip and St James, Chaguanas, on Saturday, February 23 to celebrate the ordination to the Order of the Diaconate of Stephan Alexander, Kwesi Alleyne, Kenwyn Sylvester and Mikkel Trestrail—conferred upon them by Archbishop Jason Gordon. What a moment of grace!

I sat next to Lynette Frederick who whispered to me: “Yuh come home? I know where your family used to live in Chaguanas.” And Denise Singh, who was sitting in front of me, turned around to remind me that she, her brother, Dennis Singh, and I attended Sunday School together in that parish.

To my left was a 6th former from my alma mater, Holy Faith Convent, Couva, who reminded me that I had spoken to 6th formers there last year. I was truly among FAMALAAAY!

As Catholics, as followers of Christ through our baptism, we are all called to be holy. In Matthew 5:48, Jesus tells us: “You must…be perfect just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Prof William E May reminds us as well as “the universal call to holiness: The vocation common to all Christians…Christians are called to more specific vocations. These include the states of life to which individual Christians are summoned…

“Pope John Paul II emphasized, in…Redemptor hominis, that, for the whole community of the People of God and for each member of it what is in question is not just a specific ‘social membership’; rather, for each and every one what is essential is a particular vocation…one of our important tasks in answering God’s call to holiness is to discern our personal vocation and fulfill it.”

Stephan from Gasparillo, is a lawyer; Kwesi from Chaguanas, is an engineer; Kenwyn from Pointe-à-Pierre, is an accountant; Mikkel, from Petit Valley, is co-founder and Vice-Moderator of Companions of the Transfigured Christ Community, former Parish Link Co-ordinator with CCSJ and regular panellist on CCSJ’s monthly Ask Why TV programme on TCN.

Through their discernment process, they have responded to God’s call regarding their special vocation. The Meditation Hymn, sung during Mass and written by Stephan, says it all. Here is an extract: “Lord, I hear Your voice/Calling out to me/You reach out to me in love/Beckoning me forth/The sweet tone of Your voice/Echoes within me/You speak my name in love/Like none has done before/I long to do Your will…”

Archbishop Jason’s homily was powerful. It was important that he mentioned that our Church is “bleeding”. He said: “Vocation is to be called from and called to where the Church is bleeding, on every side—the result of our own folly.”

I thought of the four-day Summit (February 21–24) Pope Francis called to address the scandal of clergy sexual abuse. Pope Francis said at the final Mass last Sunday that abuse should never be covered up or tolerated. “We are dealing with abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the earth.”

According to reports, Pope Francis said the Church will “spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice” anyone who has committed the “crimes of abuse”.

Let’s work and pray that God will rid our clergy of those who dishonour Him, our Creator and those He created by violating their human dignity in such unspeakable terms, and those who cover up or deny such violations.

In the midst of this scandal, the ordination of the four deacons, on their way to priesthood, is a sign of hope in God’s merciful love. Let’s build a vocation culture in our Archdiocese, in which, through our constant prayers and our love for the Eucharist, we will discern our “calling” in life.

Whatever our vocation, remember that we are all disciples of Christ, called to build His Kingdom here on earth. Each of us has a vocation to become what we already are; to live in a manner worthy of our vocation (St Paul); and to use our particular charisms to contribute to the sanctification of the world. Let us strive to do so joyfully.

We affirm our Archbishop, priests, deacons, sisters, brothers, and monks in their ministry and thank them for their faithful service in the Lord’s vineyard. We ask Mary’s intercession that God will continue to fill them with grace to serve with courage, love, and unwavering dedication to their ministry.

May others be inspired by their example and respond to God’s call to serve in our Church and in society.