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December 13, 2019
Community spirit, strong values will build nation
December 13, 2019

Indigenous community celebrates century of Catholicism


On the first Sunday of Advent, 704 Catholics from South Rupununi joined the people of Sawariwau in praise and prayers of thanksgiving for the gift of the Word of God that was brought by Fr Cary Elwes SJ a century ago.

To commemorate 100 years of the Catholic faith in the South Rupununi, the villagers of Sawariwau built an impressive ‘benab-style’ church through self-help activities spearheaded by former Toshao (indigenous leader) Jerome Marques.

Catholic Standard said that heartfelt gratitude was given to the neighbouring Catholic churches which contributed, particularly to Katoonarib village for contributing 3,000 of the 15,000 ité—referred to as the tree of life—for the church’s roof.

The blessing and commissioning of the newly built St John Berchmans RC Church by Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB of Georgetown was followed by the confirmation of 54 candidates from Sawariwau, Katoonarib and Shiriri villages.

Bishop Francis, during his homily, described this historic occasion as a time of reflection and a time of looking forward to the future with hope, keeping in mind the crisis of the Amazon.

According to the Bishop, the establishment of Parish Lay Assistants (PLAs), the participation of the two young Wapichan persons at the Special Synod for the Amazon, the Quality Bilingual Education Programme for Wapichan children and the ongoing Bible translations are a few highlights of the journey of one century of evangelisation of the Wapichan indigenous people of South Rupununi.

Also in attendance were Fr Chris Llanos SJ, Regional Superior of Guyana and Jamaica; the priests of Regions #8 & 9: Frs Elias Surin SJ, Ronald Fernandes SJ, Edwin Anthony SJ and Paolose Vellakada SJ; Joakina Fredericks, pioneer teacher of Shulinab Primary school; and Fr Varghese Puthussery SJ—the first priest to celebrate the Holy Mass completely in Wapichan.