Celebrate, Jesus celebrate! This was done in style, in good taste and with class, but most importantly, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit!
And all this despite COVID-19’s threat to put a damper on what was envisaged. Yes! St Martin de Porres RC Church, Morne Diable celebrated 60 years!
Celebrations started nine days prior to the Feast Day of St Martin de Porres, our patron saint, with a virtual Novena followed by a Triduum.
There were three nights of powerful anointing: Praise and Worship and dynamic speakers —Mary Hudlin and Tricia Hudlin-Cooper— centred around our theme, Restore, Renew, Rejoice based on Jeremiah 33.
This served to heighten our spirits and put us in gear for the weekend’s activities. The motorcade along the main road of the village with St Martin adorned on the back of a Hilux was public witness that COVID or no COVID, the spirit of St Martin was still alive.
Together with Fr Gutemberg, our priest from Venezuela engaged in ministry for migrants in the parish, our parish priest Fr Robert Christo pulled out all stops for our celebration of Eucharist and treated us to his special brand of liturgy setting the church on fire.
Restricted numbers due to COVID-19 protocols did not contain the flames. Friends and relatives who livestreamed on the St Dominic’s Parish Facebook page attested to that. And in true St Martin style, a meal was served after Mass (takeaway) and was also delivered to some homes. And this was only the start!
On Friday, November 20, the actual date commemorating the opening of the church 60 years ago, Eucharist was again celebrated, this time by Frs Christo and Gutemberg accompanied by Fr Urban Hudlin OP who was the homilist and who brought a stirring message, Built to Last.
He spoke from his own experience of Church here during his childhood and as a youth. His impassioned plea to the congregation, to carry on the work begun by those gone before, enhance where necessary and commit to leaving a legacy, reminded all that we were part of that august institution: The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
Celebrating Sixty years of God’s Abundant Grace and Mercy, is a significant milestone in the life of the Church of St Martin de Porres, Morne Diable, one of the five communities of St Dominic’s Parish, Penal.
This marks the construction of the church building, but history shows that “church” was well alive even before the laying of brick and mortar and the placing of the cornerstone.
According to Helen Salick who offered a historical perspective, the early origins of St Martin de Porres Roman Catholic community in Morne Diable can be traced back to 1929. The village was then inaugurated as an outstation of the Siparia Parish by Fr John Drayne OP.
Subsequent parish priests visited Morne Diable once per month to conduct Mass at Nelson’s Hall which was owned by Joseph and Laura Nelson who were proprietors of a cocoa and coffee estate and the only ‘shop’ in the village.
During his tenure from 1948–1951, Fr TP Davy OP identified the need for a school and subsequently a church as a result of a census conducted among residents.
Church activities continued to be held at Nelson’s Hall and included fundraising activities to purchase materials for the construction of the church building on lands donated by the Nelson family.
Residents donated their labour on weekends and the church building was officially opened in 1960 by Fr Eugene P Delahunt OP.
Under the patronage of St Martin de Porres, from then onwards there was no turning back, not only in terms of the growth of the worshipping community, but also with respect to the ministries and services made available to residents over the years.
As we continue to celebrate our anniversary year, we will take a peek into our history, periodically, and together with our parish priest and our brothers and sisters of the communities of St Dominic’s Parish, Penal we aim to continue carving out a future for this Church, built to last in this neck of the woods.
To God be all glory, honour and praise and thanksgiving!