What’s heaven really like? Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Harris CSSp hopes it’s like a Carnival band with “togetherness, enjoyment and happiness”. These are all values which he would like the faithful to see as being part of following Christ. “God is not only on the cross,” but in the happiness and smiles of people, he remarked, lamenting that an image of a happy, laughing Christ is an aspect “we never seem to pick up on”. He hoped that more local religious art would offer “this dimension of the Divine”.
The tenth archbishop of Port of Spain was speaking at a July 14 luncheon at the Fatima College auditorium to celebrate his golden jubilee of priestly ordination that day.
Speaking last, the guest of honour thanked his siblings and extended family for always being there for him, his many friends, and former St Mary’s College
classmates, who led a chorus of ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’ when he finished his speech. “Keep praying for me,” he told those present.
Making brief remarks were his older brother Conrad Harris, Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Archbishop Jason Gordon, and friend Donna Miles. Schoolmate Felix Edinborough served as master of ceremonies.
The nuncio sang in Latin as he thanked Archbishop Harris for his commitment to the Church, while Archbishop Gordon said his predecessor was not in “the waiting room” to be called home by God, but waiting to be called to another role in life as he still had much to offer.
The luncheon was preceded by a concelebrated Mass at the Fatima College Chapel. Beside Archbishops Nwachukwu and Gordon, other concelebrating clergy included Bishops Gerard County CSSp of Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Robert Llanos, Diocesan Administrator, Diocese of St John’s-Basseterre, Antigua and Barbuda. Provincial Superior Fr Gregory Augustine CSSp preached the homily.
During the prayers of intercession, Archbishop Harris prayed for vocations to the priesthood and missionary life. The archbishop was a young missionary priest of the Holy Ghost Fathers congregation in Paraguay, and described the 13 years he spent in the South American country as what challenged and formed him in his priestly ministry. He became teary-eyed as he remembered in prayer his deceased parents.
Giving brief remarks at the start of the liturgy Archbishop Harris thanked all for their presence. Among the invited guests were Education Minister Anthony Garcia, former First Lady Zalayhar Hassanali, former government minister Austin ‘Jack’ Warner, and veteran journalist Jones Madeira. A few members of the St Ann’s music ministry, one of his former parishes, led the singing. – RS