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100 years living in service

CN file photo: Corpus Christi Carmelites at the POS Mayor's office

The Port of Spain City Corporation has recognised the decades of service by the Corpus Christi Carmelites at the L’Hospice. Neila Todd, a Tertiary of Carmel (lay Carmelite), attended the Wednesday, October 30 event at the POS City Hall and shares a bit of history about the Carmelite institution.

The City Corporation of Port of Spain was just six years in existence when three young English women left their convent in England to sail to this last island in the Caribbean archipelago, Trinidad. Their Congregation was also only two years older than the Corporation.

These ‘adventurers’ as they called themselves had come because of the ecclesiastical wisdom of the Archbishop of Port of Spain, Archbishop Vincent Spaccapietra who had heard about the foundational work of their leader  who by the end of the century, would become the Servant of God, Mother Mary Ellerker of the Blessed Sacrament, O Carm.

The then fledgling group were invited to take over the administration of the L’Hospice from the French Creole nuns who had begun this charitable work.

From these shores, Mother Foundress would expand her initial foundations into the United States, Guyana, other Caribbean islands and Liberia.

The Congregation would be made a Pontifical Institute, the Mother House based in Trinidad. Moreover, Mother Foundress’ cause for beatification made her the first person in these parts to be so selected.

The L’Hospice Spaccapietra is the official name of that beloved institution situated on Observatory Street. Geographically, it is in the beating heart of the city. It has been witness and participant to urban vicissitudes of life.

It has been succour to the many waves of migrants from Syria, Lebanon, and Portugal as well as dispossessed descendants of Africans and indentured Indians who had served their time on the sugar plantations.

The L’Hospice has therefore seen fortunes made and lost. Its doors remain open to all those in need, whatever those needs may be: spiritual or temporal. Grateful Trinis in the diaspora dream of the L’Hospice and return there as soon as they come home to visit.

There are also those persons who go once weekly, a perpetual engagement that they fulfil, apart from attending the renowned, annual Pound Day.

The City Corporation sought to commemorate the milestone anniversary of this venerable institution by bestowing the Key to the City.

His Worship, Mayor Joel Martinez presented this artifact to the Prioress General Sr Petronilla Joseph O Carm, who gratefully and humbly accepted this golden key in the presence of proud members of the Carmelite family, City Councillors, Aldermen, the media and the public.

This event was indeed an occasion of true reciprocity. Both institutions unstintingly deliver to the people of Trinidad and Tobago all that is required for the enhancement of their lives.

Both institutions are committed to the re-gentrification of the City of Port of Spain. They both seek and appeal to a more genteel, compassionate population so that the goals and objectives of civil living can be achieved again. Both are therefore renewed in their commitments to the most vulnerable in our society, those domiciled here or those who will come.

Long live the work of the Corpus Christi Carmelites and the City Corporation of Port of Spain.

Editor’s Note: The Corpus Christi Carmelites will celebrate the 100th anniversary of their arrival in Trinidad with Mass on Saturday, November 16 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. See page 15.