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Many happy memories at St Mary’s

Adelia Alves, a longstanding parishioner at St Mary’s RC, Mucurapo shares her memories.

The day finally came, October 20, when after restoration for five years, St Mary’s Mucurapo, St James, dedicated to Our Lady’s Assumption, was rededicated by Archbishop Jason Gordon. It was an impressive ceremony and the relics of two saints were placed at the bottom of the altar—St Jose Sanchez del Rio and St Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Moran.

I was baptised in this church on February 6, 1932 when I was two months old. The church was new as it was blessed on June 14, 1931, according to an article in the brochure on the history of the church by Norman Darway. St Mary’s has always been an important part of my life for as long as I can remember as my family lived close by.

In the early years, St Mary’s had wooden floors. Later, when these were changed to tiles, cracks developed caused by the roots of the large trees which surrounded the church.

I would like to compare our church with our bodies, for as we age, we certainly are not as vibrant and attractive as when we were young. So, it is with buildings. We always need to spruce up the appearance—painting, checking for leaks and constant maintenance. St Mary’s after more than 100 years began to look run-down.

Now, with restoration completed, it looks beautiful and livelier than before. It is a job well done and it was worth the wait. I always liked to look up at the dark, high ceiling and marvel at its workmanship. Imagine reaching to such heights while it was being built, a time when cranes and modern equipment didn’t exist!

Those who served us

I would like to mention some of our former parish priests. The first one I knew was Fr Curran. He was parish priest for a long time until he was assigned to Carenage in 1949. We then had Fr Mc Kenna who built Mucurapo Boys’ RC which is still sturdy after all these years.

Fr Bergen was next, followed by Fr Mark Connolly, who built Mucurapo Girls’ RC which was our home for the last three years while our church was being restored.

We had Fr Allen, Fr O’Loughlin and Fr Hayden, all Irish Dominican priests whose contributions were significant to Trinidad and Tobago. The Dominican priests ministered here from our very humble beginnings and I do not think there is any parish in T&T where they did not work. They built many of our churches and schools. Their presence was influential to our Catholic faith.

I have many happy memories of growing up at St Mary’s, but I want to mention one. It was in 1950 when Blessed Fr Patrick Peyton came to St Mary’s with the pilgrim virgin statue. He had recovered from a very serious illness and promised Our Lady that he would spend the rest of his life spreading devotion to her if he recovered. He kept true to his word and this church was one that he visited. I was 18 years old and remember him pleading with us to pray the rosary daily.

His famous words are “the family that prays together stays together”. I had the privilege of seeing him again many years later at Archbishop’s House when Archbishop Anthony Pantin was there.

If everyone prayed a rosary every day I wonder if we would have so many Catholics no longer coming to Mass, so much crime and so many abortions in the world? We need to pray the rosary now more than ever. Padre Pio reminds us that it is one of the most powerful weapons we have.

May our Father give eternal rest to all who worked in the building up of our community at St Mary’s, Mucurapo and all who worshipped here over these past many years.

While we admire the beauty of our newly restored church, let us keep our eyes on the tabernacle where our Blessed Saviour, who makes all things possible, loves and waits for us.