The People of Praise Community celebrates a major milestone, its 30th anniversary, this Tuesday, September 24. Winston and Debbie Garcia, two founding members, share its history and ministry.
People of Praise came out of the Word of Life Community, which was a central figure in the birth and spread of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) movement in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean.
In 1989, 26 young persons from Word of Life felt compelled to concentrate on youth and young adult ministry and became People of Praise (POP).
Very early in its development, POP became known locally and regionally for its vibrant praise, worship and evangelisation; three main charisms that fuelled and continue to fuel the excitement, growth and development of the Community over three decades.
Members of POP are actively involved in multiple areas of service in our home parish of Santa Rosa, Arima. Our music ministry has been joyfully singing for the Sunday evening Mass for the past 40 years—a ministry which began when we were just a youth group.
The Community reaches out to other parishes to conduct retreats, crusades, Life in the Spirit seminars, prison ministry and other evangelistic efforts. POP also supports CCR initiatives and features prominently in leading music ministry for conferences and rallies and is often called to spearhead music liturgy for Archdiocesan events such as ordinations, episcopal installations and will be serving at the AEC Mission Congress.
Beyond the Archdiocese of Port of Spain, POP has ministered throughout the region in Barbados, Grenada, St Vincent, St Lucia, Dominica, Guyana, Suriname, Curaçao, St Kitts, Jamaica, Saba, St Eustatius, US Virgin Islands and Antigua.
The most common requests from bishops and youth coordinators are for retreats, crusades, seminars, rallies, concerts and music workshops.
Our labour of love has been recognised as we serve as Community.
Some achievements include:
• Awards from the Arima Borough Council for ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Development of Youth’ in 1995 and for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Community Service’ in 2012
• Production of a CD of original musical compositions titled Kairos in 2000
• In 2014, we published Praise a Way of the Life: The Inside Story chronicling the history of the Community and our work in the mission field and produced Chaplet of the Holy Spirit on CD
• Official recognition as a Private Association of Christ’s Faithful in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain in 2018
As the Community matures and members assume greater responsibility for their family and career development, levels of commitment and enthusiasm are being challenged.
The leadership of the POP is discerning the Will of God with respect to offering members the opportunity to live out lay consecrated vocations to single and married life in covenanted service to the Community.
We believe our vision of “harvesting souls daily and perfect praise always”, mirrors that of the early Church. Firstly, we facilitate members having an encounter with the living Christ (through Life in the Spirit seminars, prayer meetings and retreat experiences) which then leads to the development of a vibrant faith in the power and love of God, personal prayer life and earnest yearning for others to have a similar encounter.
The desired outcome is the renewal of individuals, families, parish and wider Church.
The spirituality in which the relationship with God and each other is sustained is realised largely through our weekly prayer meeting which takes place on Fridays, at the House of Praise, Upper De Gannes Street, Arima, 7.30 p.m. –9.30 p.m.
We have developed a rhythm of life which includes programmes and activities geared toward human, social and spiritual development such as music ministry practices, intercessory prayer meetings, children’s ministry, youth ministry, home visitations, covenant meetings/retreats and counselling services which take place at our centre.
Through the years, People of Praise has evolved from a small youth group into a larger Catholic ecclesial community of some 200 active members and covenanted partners.
Over the last 14 years, we developed a Praise and Worship Conference, Sound the Trumpet, to keep alive our main charisms, to raise the standard of music in the Church, and to invite others to experience the beauty and richness of praising and worshipping God.
This year, ‘Sound the Trumpet 14, Let the Fire Blaze’, promises to ignite a passion for the gospel, the Holy Trinity and the Church. All are invited to attend.
Should you want more information about People of Praise Community or would like us to minister in your prayer group or parish, feel free to call the office at 667-1544 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.