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Challenging lectures for 25th Caribbean theology conference

Story by Kaelanne Jordan,
Email: kjordan.camsel@rcpos.org
Twitter: @kaelanne1

Theology is not an exercise of the elite as certain expressions such as ‘God don’t sleep’; ‘Heaven and hell right here’; ‘God’s mill grinds slowly’; ‘You can’t fool God’ are examples of faithful reflecting on their experiences and theologising.

“And this is the exciting project to which we invite you from Monday 24 [June] to Friday June 28,” Vicar General Fr Martin Sirju said at the launch of the 25th anniversary of Caribbean Theology Conference last Tuesday at the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) office, Gray Street, St Clair, Port of Spain.

Panellists at the launch were Fr Sirju, moderator Rhonda Earle, and Planning Committee Coordinator Bernadette Salandy. AEC Secretary Fr Donald Chambers of the Archdiocese of Kingston, Jamaica was in attendance.

The theme of this year’s conference is Confronting the Waves: 25 Years of Caribbean Theology Today.

The conference involves two public (free) lectures. The first lecture will have two of the three Conference founders: Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Harris CSSp and Msgr Patrick ‘Paba’ Anthony of St Lucia. Fr Michel de Verteuil CSSp, the third founding co-ordinators, died in January 2014. Msgr Anthony will present Monday 24, 6 p.m. at the Assumption RC Church, Maraval followed by Archbishop Harris’ response.

‘The Spirituality of Carnival’ with an emphasis on David Rudder’s music will be explored Wednesday 26 by US anthropologist Dr Alison Mc Letchie at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando from 7 p.m.

Archbishop Jason Gordon will be the main celebrant at the 5 p.m. Opening Mass at Assumption. The rest of the conference takes place at the Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs.

Fr Sirju said that the Conference though it began in 1994, its origins can be traced to the Black Power Movement in the 1970s—the “engine” for Caribbean theology. He highlighted the Conference’s “continuity” from a Catholic base to an ecumenical Conference.

While the Conference has always invited “clergy in general”, formation has to filter down by those who attend—priests, catechists, pastoral workers, lay ministers, eucharistic ministers—so that Caribbean theology will not be a foreign word but a “respected” word.

Fr Sirju added that this year, a special effort was made to invite those in the seminary and persons working in the parishes. “We are more deliberate now in our target audience so that things will start getting down in the pews so that priests can use them in homilies and challenge people to explore their circumstance and without knowing it, doing theology right there in their parishes.”

Commenting on the themes and talks, Fr Sirju said the conference is like a “little Caribbean feminist lecture”. He mentioned that there will be interesting presentations led by female theologians including Dr Anna Kasafi Perkins on ‘School days and School daze’. There will also be papers relating to Music by Jill-Ann Walters-Morris, Dr Francisca Allard (see CN May 19, pages 12 and 13) and Dr Mc Letchie, to name a few.

“And the whole purpose of all this is to really make us forge a Caribbean identity because theology really can be used in the purpose of regional integration and helping us to understand who we are and confronting the waves already implies that we need to face the challenging forces that are before us….”

Registration is open for persons interested in participating at this year’s Caribbean Theology Conference. For more information, contact 772-3012 or 771-1300 or visit them on Facebook ‘25th Anniversary: Caribbean Theology Today’.