A ‘Trini’ living in the United States said the spiritual support given by the local Catholic Church virtually was like a “lifeline” as she worked while in lockdown since March.
A caller from D’Abadie whose brother died of COVID-19 said she found solace in the daily gospel readings and was thankful for the priests. “We have to be grateful for what we have,” she said.
They were among the many viewing the Independence edition of #wearehere on Facebook live. The programme began during the lockdown in T&T, March to June, and provides a forum for the faithful to dialogue with clergy and get information from the Archdiocese.
Participating were Archbishop Jason Gordon, Vicar General Fr Martin Sirju and regional vicars: Fr Dwight Merrick, (east) Fr Derek Anton (central), Fr Christopher Lumsden (north), Fr David Khan (south), Fr Steve Ransome (suburban) and vice rector of the Seminary St John Vianney and Uganda Martyrs, and Msgr Esau Joseph (Tobago). Vicar for Communications Fr Robert Christo is the regular host.
Responding to a question on the sacraments, Archbishop Gordon said, “we are going to wait and as soon as things open back up, we will be ready to do the Confirmation and to do the adult Baptisms and Confirmations”. Vicars will do Confirmations for adults in their vicariate for small numbers and in parishes for larger. “The idea is as long as possible before December, we want to get people through and completely initiated into the Church, those who are doing preparation this year.”
Archbishop Gordon said the Church experienced many things during the lockdown and it was a very “active time”. Approximately 70,000 people were fed in the lockdown and many more were fed with the Word of God as Masses were held daily on Trinity Television. He said the Church through parishes have reached out to communities.
Fr Merrick, coordinator of the Archdiocese Social Needs Team said distribution of hampers took place through vicariates twice fortnightly but from June it was done once monthly. Close to 75,000 hampers were distributed costing almost $12 million; the State provided some support.
He said a lot was learnt from the poor and persons affected by the pandemic. Fr Merrick said, “lots of beautiful things happened”. Several people reported they were back to work and asked for the hampers they would have received to be given to persons more in need.
Fr Anton said most of the call requests—over 90 per cent coming in to the hotline 607-HOPE (4673) was for “material need”. He commended the volunteers who “made a great sacrifice of their personal time” channelling the requests to where help can be given. The calls had tapered off but two weeks ago with the August 15 announcement of restrictions, they increased again.
Fr Khan spoke of the need for financial support to the Archdiocese during this time. He said, “The love of money is the root of evil so don’t love it too much, hand it over because your money is helping those who are less fortunate”.
He observed that over time generosity seemed to be dwindling but the “spirit is there”. Fr Khan thanked those who stretched themselves to help others. —LPG