The St John’s-Basseterre diocese celebrated 50 years as a diocese January 16, preceded by 333 years of Catholic presence in the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat, and Anguilla.
In his homily at the Eucharistic celebration January 17, Bishop Robert Llanos asserted, “at age fifty we have a long way to go and much to do”.
He believed, it “seems clear” that God is calling the diocese to become a missionary discipleship diocese.
There is no time for divisiveness, resentment, unforgiveness, backbiting, power grabbing and wickedness of any kind, the Bishop said. There is time, however, for selflessness, charity, kindness, encouragement, forgiveness, and openness to change.
“Let us as a communion of faith, support, challenge and build up one another. Let us stand together and teach one another by the example of our lives how to love as Christ has commanded us to,” he said.
Bishop Llanos said that the occasion is symbolic of many years of God’s abundant graces, the anointing of His Holy Spirit and the conviction of many men and women that God’s word is truth and His promises sure.
“What we celebrate here is truly the Church Catholic,” Bishop Llanos added.
The Diocese, the bishop said, must also celebrate its Church-State relationships over the years which have supported religious freedom for the many faith traditions present in the islands.
He shared when he wrote the Pastoral Exhortation 2020 document, he had no idea that the readings for the 50th anniversary would be about discipleship. He surmised that it is an important indication of the Diocese’s being on the right track in doing God’s will.
“In these readings, we are also given a recipe for discipleship—the what, how, when and why. As stated in our Pastoral Exhortation 2020, a good disciple is a good steward of everyone and everything. When we are a diocese of missionary disciples, then we transform the society around us in every area of life whether it is politics, sport, business, government, family life, professional life and so on. We become agents of grace and blessing wherever we are. We must do it because we can,” Bishop Llanos said.
Obedience, the Bishop highlighted, is an essential element of one’s encounter with God because every voice one hears must be discerned and tested to know its true source. Listening ultimately requires at least two or more people. He shared the example of Samuel and Eli.
“Although God is speaking to Samuel, both Eli the prophet and Samuel are listening so that Eli may guide Samuel in his response to God. If we want to become a diocese of missionary disciples, then we must follow the examples of Eli and Samuel,” Bishop Llanos explained.
He continued that the way forward listening to the voice of God would have been the response of many of the Diocese’s past heroes. “All those persons of long memory and those of more recent memory mentioned in our 50th anniversary booklet are men and women who, having listened to the voice of the Lord, became disciples in various ways. We are now in receipt of the fruit of their labour of love and discipleship, but what are we going to leave for those who come after us?” the Bishop questioned.