Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB along with 20 priests and other clergy who serve in Guyana came together November 17–19 for one of the main annual events of the Diocese, namely, the annual clergy conference.
The gathering was held in the Catholic Life Center, Georgetown. Because of the numbers of participants and the large, roomy nature of the venue, participants were able to follow the Health Ministry’s COVID-19 protocols. Some who could not make it to Georgetown joined in via the Zoom platform.
According to Catholic Standard, this forum is usually one where the Church leadership prays, shares information, discusses current issues, makes important decisions regarding their ministries in the local church, conducts other business and takes part in fellowship, sharing and learning opportunities.
This year the conference’s focus was on community.
On the first day, the clergy discussed what community or communities they “belonged” to and are “responsible” for. They also expressed areas of concern they had for their respective communities, among them refugees, the indigenous, and Afro/Indo Guyanese.
“Who shares responsibility with them for care of those communities? How are decisions made within those communities? What are the social, cultural, environmental and ecclesial issues that most affect the communities for which they are responsible or for which you have concern?” were some of the questions raised.
The report said that the meeting then facilitated a conversation from which action steps would emerge at the community and diocesan level.
The second and third days were devoted to in-depth discussions and action steps based on what was shared on the first day.
“Among the main issues which emerged was strong concern about ongoing faith formation, especially adult faith. A number of ideas and initiatives on how this can be addressed were put forward including offering very formal, ongoing courses on the various aspects of faith,” the report said.
Newly ordained Bishop John Persaud of Mandeville, Jamaica, who was on a short visit to Guyana was invited to be the main celebrant at the November 19 closing Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
Referring to Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti, Bishop Persaud commented that in that encyclical, the Holy Father writes not just to the Church but the entire world and “he is calling us to recognise that we are going the wrong way, that we are choosing paths that will lead to destruction and ultimately death.”
Speaking specifically to his brother priests, Bishop Persaud said he thinks there is one important need in the Church today and that is for priests to build a presbyterate. It is “a recognition that we are not individuals seeking after glory on our own terms but when we become priests, we become part of a brotherhood, a fraternity, understanding that together we accept the responsibility of mission, the mission that Jesus entrusts to His disciples.”
He reminded his brother priests that in every diocese, the priests along with their bishop are called to build that fraternity, that sense of family and community.
“It is there that you find the moments when we can lift up each other supporting each other, even though your apostolates may be different,” Bishop Persaud said.