By Rev Malcom and Lynn Joab, Canadian/Caribbean Ecclesial Team Couple, Worldwide Marriage Encounter
On July 13, the Caribbean Catholic community in general and the Worldwide Marriage Encounter (WWME) movement in particular, lost a modern-day missionary disciple.
Kay Holder returned to the Father peacefully at the family home in San Fernando after ailing for some time. Her quiet, unassuming demeanour did not portray a true missionary spirit which she shared with her husband Wilfred, but this spirit made them a stalwart of the movement and mentor to many.
Two years ago, Kay and Wilfred were honoured at the WWME 50th anniversary celebration in Chicago as one of the 50 couples worldwide who were witnesses to the movement for believing in the WWME dream.
Kay and Wilfred made their original WWME weekend in Belize City in 1976, and although the community there wanted them to stay, as they described in WWME’s 50th anniversary publication in 2018, their “hearts were in Trinidad”.
In June 1978, they met with Servant of God, Archbishop Anthony Pantin and shared with him their dream of starting WWME in Trinidad. Having received permission to proceed, the first WWME weekend took place in November 1978 at Pax Guest House, Mt St Benedict.
Eleven couples, two priests: Frs Brendan Clifford and Neil Rodrigues, and two religious: Srs Miriam Cleary and Reina Loe made that first weekend.
Kay and Wilfred, together with other pioneering couples and priests such as Joan and Vernon Khelawan, Hugh and Gladys Germain, Tony and Merle Look Tong, Jeremy and Susan Henry, David and Angela McCartney, Keith and Angela Solomon, and Frs Anton Dick CSSp and Michael Coutts, worked assiduously to expand the movement.
In its first year over 100 couples were encountered. By 1980, it had expanded to Barbados and Guyana. Today over 5,000 couples and priests have made the weekend.
In fact, several the bishops of the Antilles Episcopal Conference including Archbishop Robert Rivas OP, Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB, Bishop Robert Llanos and Bishop-elect John Persaud, have been presenting priests on WWME weekends.
All this, from a dream of Kay and Wilfred Holder and their unstinting desire to spread the love of God made manifest in Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders. May she rest in peace.