The Shrine Committee of Our Lady of Montserrat RC Church, Tortuga has embarked on an ambitious goal: raise $3.5 million in three years to restore the church’s structure.
During the group’s tenth Anniversary Mass on January 26, President of the Shrine Committee, Diane Bertrand said “In 2017, the report presented by the restoration engineers identified that the church required restoration of 40 per cent of its structure. In 2019, this was reviewed, and the church now requires restoration of 70 per cent of its structure. It has deteriorated significantly in two years.”
She said initial drawings from the new restoration project have been submitted to the parish priest Fr Jose Marie and the Committee. The second stage which entails the surveyor’s establishment of project phases and documents to start the bidding process, is expected to begin soon.
In its effort to raise the $3.5 million the group has developed a three-year fundraising plan. This includes written and oral campaigns where a global database of the sons and daughters of Our Lady of Montserrat will be developed, and pledges will be entertained.
An events campaign with several functions to encourage the parish and Tortuga community life, while also raising funds, and a social media outreach campaign to be able to contact ‘Tortugans’ and parishioners around the world will also be implemented.
The group also plans to host a spiritual campaign with an annual Marian Conference which will feature international speakers.
“Each of these campaigns is designed to incorporate the help of the worshipping community of Tortuga and the other parish communities … and you, our faithful patrons, benefactors and sons and daughters of Our Lady of Montserrat,” Bertrand said.
At the start of her address, Bertrand recalled the formation of the group. She said it was during a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Montserrat in Catalonia, Spain with then parish priest Fr Steve Duncan that, following a moment of prayer in the Basilica, he promised to establish a Shrine Committee to serve the spiritual proclamation of Our Lady’s role as Queen and Mother of God and to protect and maintain her Shrine in Tortuga.
The group’s first meeting was January 26, 2010 with Fr Duncan, Bertrand, Joseph T Rostant, Franklin Lee Sam, Antoinette Lewis, Derek Telfer, Suzette Dulal-Whiteway, Michelle Baptiste and Glen Ghany.
The team continued under the guidance of Fr Duncan and subsequent parish priests, Frs Alan Hall and Jose Marie. Rostant passed away and Lee Sam and another member, Miguel Chinnia, have resigned. The group has gotten new members which include Ricardo Penco, Louis Dulal-Whiteway, Lenore Figaro and Veronica Darmanie.
Bertrand said that, over the years, the members of the Committee have raised over $3 million. They have also restored the 200-year-old image of Our Lady of Montserrat, restored statues in the church, established a book and gift shop, re-paved the church yard, created a car park, provided scholarships for youths willing to attend Liturgy School and hosted the ‘Joseph T Rostant Hymn to Our Lady of Montserrat Competition’ and the 140th Anniversary Celebrations of the Tortuga Church.
The group gave the congregation three gifts on the morning of its 10th anniversary. These included the Tortuga Choir singing ‘Mama Maria’, its submission to the parish’s 2012 Our Lady of Montserrat Hymn Competition, followed by the former members of the Tortuga Government School choir singing its winning offering in that competition, ‘Our Lady of the Hills’.
It was a reunion choir led, as eight years ago, by Theresa Roberts. The young members journeyed from across the country to be present for the 7 a.m. Mass. The third gift was breakfast which was heartily enjoyed by those in attendance.
During the Mass, Fr Jose Marie congratulated the Shrine Committee and its supporters.
Please visit the Shrine Committee’s website at: www.ourladyofmontserrat.org