Sr Renée Hall OP had the audience at the Holy Rosary/Gonzales parish cluster retreat singing and dancing to the rhythm of Nailah Blackman’s ‘More Sokah’, the tune that earned Desperadoes Steel Orchestra the 2020 National Panorama champion title and their 12th win. It was not more Soca people were calling for though, but more “scripture”.
It was the first day of the annual three-part pan yard crusade last Monday at ‘Despers’ pan yard, Tragarete Road, Port of Spain and there was a good turnout. The theme was: Living the Liturgy of the Word in Our Hearts.
She acknowledged the 2020 champions in her opening and called on Grace Music Ministry led by Atherly Nicholas to assist her with the song. Sr Renée said she was taking “poetic licence” and had adjusted the words.
Nicholas joked that the choir had a “crash course” to learn the tune shortly before the event started. He commented, “Sister want us to play the song they win the champions with and we ain’t know the key, we ain’t know nutten”.
Sr Renée and the choir had the audience singing: “Aye you, what yuh want? We want more gospel (2x), You, wha’ you want? We want more scripture; Is the Word in meh heart, aye aye; is the Word in my soul, aye aye; is the spirit in my heart aye aye, is the love in my heart, aye aye; It is Jesus our saviour…”
She said visitors to pan yards witnessed commitment, passion, dedication that goes into playing a song on the national instrument. Sr Renée, a teacher and dean at Holy Name Convent, continued, “I am sure this tune [More Sokah] was ingrained into the minds, hearts and souls of the players… in the same way we must stay with the Word of God until we get it, until it becomes part and parcel of who we are.”
She urged Catholics to get familiar with their Bible and not let it be covered with dust. She quipped that when she reached for her own Bible, it was covered in “Catholic dust”. Sr Renée however read scripture in her Divine Office Book and on her iPad with the Universalis app which had the day’s prayers and readings. Even if people cannot attend Mass every day the Church invited Catholics to ponder the readings of the day—the liturgy of the Word and what it is saying to them. She said, “We really have no excuse because many of us have some kind of device we can use to access the Word of God wherever we go.”
She urged attendees to spend time in silence, listening to what God is telling them because there is more noise today with the television on, cell phones, and radios. Young people have their ears plugged with earbuds. Many people are busy “multi-tasking”.
“When we find time to be silent, we could truly listen to God,” Sr Renée said. In the fast-paced world where people expect “instant” responses, listening and living the liturgy of the Word is not a fast-tracked transaction. God cannot be rushed.
Sr Renée told the adults present they have a duty to pass on the Word of God to the next generation. She advised that it was beneficial to learn verses from scripture by heart so that it is so embedded in the heart that at work, on the various paths of life when they encountered persons they offer the Word so others “can experience the fullness of life as we have”.
The evening’s programme ended with Despers playing two religious songs, ending with their winning tune. A group from Catholic outreach programme FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) danced to the music.
The retreat continued at Massy All Stars, Duke Street last Wednesday and Renegades, Charlotte Street, on Friday.