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Catholic Church History: 1st Independence Day

For those with a keen interest of archdiocesan history, we visited our archives for the Catholic News report on the first Independence Day 54 years ago. 

On Friday, August 31st, after the lowering of the Union Jack and the unfurling of the Red, White and Black of Trinidad at the Red House grounds, His Grace (then Archbishop Ryan Finbar) was the first to be invited to the microphone in order to bless the new nation. The prayerful stillness of the early morning was broken by the amplified voice of the Archbishop who recited the following prayer:

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

O God, Who in the eternal Council of the Most Holy Trinity, didst decree the formation of the universe: and, in the fullness of time, didst create the world, and from one stock didst people it, setting by Thy Providence the boundaries of nations-to-be: Stretch forth, we beseech Thee, the Right Hand of Thy Majesty, and bless the nation of Trinidad and Tobago in this moment of its birth: that it may be, under Thy guidance

a Nation of Truth and Life

a Nation of Holiness and Grace

a Nation of Justice, Love, and Peace

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Within some minutes of the raising of the new flag to symbolise the end of 163 years of British rule, the Archbishop and His Excellency, the Most Rev Luigi Dadaglio, Apostolic Nuncio to Caracas, and envoy extraordinary of Pope John XXIII to the nation’s celebrations, left for the Cathedral. At 12.30 a.m. he celebrated a Pontifical High Mass for Independence. Present in an overflowing congregation was the Governor General Sir Solomon Hochoy and Lady Hochoy, the Deputy Prime Minister Dr Patrick Solomon, the Speaker, Mr. C.A. Thomasos, Minister of Education Mr. Donald Pierre, Minister of Health, Mr. Donald Granado and Senator Ronald Williams.
Very Rev. Fr. M. Hand, O.P., Administrator of the Cathedral, together with Rev. Fr. P. Tiernan, O.P. were at the Church-doors to receive the dignitaries of State and members of the Consular Corps.
Chaplains to His Excellency the Governor-General and the Deputy Prime Minister were Rev. Fr. F. Macnamara, O.P. and Rev. Fr. P. Duignan, O.P., respectively.

The issue was dated Saturday, September 8 and the headline above is the same as was carried so many years ago

His Grace the Archbishop presided at the Mass.

Deacons at the throne were: Rev. Fr. C. O’Hagan, O.P. and Rev. Fr. N. Sheridan, O.P. Rev. Fr. K. Power, C.S.Sp. and Fr. I. Fitzwilliam, C.S.Sp. were deacons to His Excellency the Papal Nuncio.
Ministers at the High Mass were: Rev. Fr. T. Kennedy, C.S.Sp., deacon; and Rev. Fr. I. Ibrahim, C.S.Sp., sub-deacon. Rev. Fr. A. P. Kennedy, O.P., P.P. was arch-priest, while Rev. Fr. V. Kennedy, O.P. was Master of Ceremonies. Rev. Fr. P. Murphy, O.P. was in the pulpit directing the congregational singing.

On Sunday, September 2nd at 9.30 a.m. His Grace the Archbishop celebrated a special Pontifical High Mass for Independence at the Cathedral. Deacon at the Mass was Rev. Fr. C. O’Hagan, O.P., while Rev. Fr. K. Lennon, O.P. was sub-deacon. Deacons at the throne were Rev. Fr. G. M. Brophy, O.P. P.P. and Rev. Fr. B. M. Fitzgerald, O.P. Rev. Fr. A. P. Kennedy, O.P., P.P. was arch-priest while Rev. Fr. V. Kennedy, O.P. was Master of Ceremonies.

Preaching at the Mass His Grace said: “The Gospel of today’s Mass is very appropriate for this Sunday and for this occasion when in honour of the most glorious Trinity we offer thanks to God for our happy entry into independent national life, praying God that the blessing which was invoked in the very first moment in the existence of Independence for now and always may not only fall on our people but may be received by them and made a seed that will grow up in knowledge, love and service of God.


In a worldly and political sense most people in Trinidad are asking the question: Is our independent nation likely to be a success? We have, indeed, thank God, many reasons for hoping that it will be a success—economically, socially, politically and internationally. But as you very well understand that is not the whole answer, nor indeed is it the most important part of the answer. As God says in Psalm 32: “Blessed is that people whose Lord is God!” Not money, not economic success, not national and international prestige.
These are not the Gods that deserve worship even though in many nations it would seem that these are the only objects of worship. The seeming advantages that come from a narrow and earth-bound view of life are really a deception. The thoughts and plannings of princes perish says the Psalmist but the Counsel of God remains forever, for “Blessed is that people whose Lord is God!”


What a happy thing it was that in the very first moment of our national existence we should have professed our belief in God and that we should have prayed that our new nation might grow under God. This is a high aspiration indeed, wherein our people might live in a single bond of faith, justice, love and peace and that they might give an example to heaven and earth of what a nation whose Lord is God can be. The Mass this morning was offered to God in thanksgiving for this splendid beginning and that we might also consecrate ourselves to this great ambition of making our new nation a country after the mind of God himself!”