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Strengthening marriage and family

Rhona and Denis Basso do an activity at Marriage Me or We. Photo: Lauren Jamadar

By Leela Ramdeen

Chair, CCSJ & AMMR

“My hands used to be sweaty, but Grandma didn’t mind. She would hold on to my sweaty hand as we walked; chatting with me about what I had done at school that day. I always felt safe in her care.”

As my niece spoke, I could still visualise her holding on to her Grandma’s hand as she walked her home from school as a child.

This week our Archdiocese is observing Marriage and Family Life. On July 25, we also observe the first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, which Pope Francis instituted to take place each year on the fourth Sunday in July, close to the feast of Sts Joachim and Anne (Monday, July 26), the grandparents of Jesus.

To strengthen family life, we must reject the throwaway culture that threatens to strip us of our humanity.

Noel Nicholson, 66, lived on his own in Santa Cruz for over 40 years, working as a vendor in San Juan market. He died recently and lay dead in his home for nearly a week before he was discovered.

His son, Ricardo, is encouraging people with elderly relatives to call them or check in with them often, particularly during the pandemic.

On July 16, in the Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, the Social Development and Family Services Minister, Donna Cox, said it was concerning that the number of reported cases of elder abuse as of May 31, 2021, has surpassed the number of cases reported for all of fiscal year 2019/2020.

“… data from the Division of Ageing in Trinidad and Tobago Older Persons Information Centre showed there had been 174 reported cases of elder abuse for the first five months of the year, compared to 153 cases in the previous period…

“Cox said she was aware that caretaker burnout was often a factor in the mistreatment of older people. She urged them to seek help before burnout occurred…”

Permanent Secretary Jacinta Bailey-Sobers said: “Of the 174 reports of alleged elder abuse, 127 occurred in private residences, as opposed to 29 at older people homes. Of these cases, neglect was the leading type of abuse, followed by financial, physical, and finally occurrences categorised as verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse.”

Catholics should take the lead in building an all-inclusive society. As the saying goes, a strong family, builds a strong community, which in turn builds a strong society. It’s time to awake the sleeping giant that is Catholicism and develop effective pastoral plans in our parishes.

During this week, as we reflect on our Church’s teaching on Marriage and Family Life, spend some time with your family and read and discuss even extracts, summaries or quotations from Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, the Joy of Love.

In their Reflections on  Amoris Laetitia, Michael G Lawler and Todd A Salzman say that the method used by Pope Francis “is virtue-oriented, relational focused, dynamic, developmental and inductive. A virtue-focused method focuses on the character of the person rather than his or her acts; on being, rather than doing”.

“Acts are important since they reflect virtuous character and shape that character. The focus in Amoris Laetitia is not on rules and acts but on ways of being in the world, where the person is invited to strive to live out a life like Christ in the service of God, spouse, family, neighbour, and society, realising that God’s mercy is infinite when we fall short of this invitation…

“Amoris Laetitia presents marital life as ‘a dynamic path to personal development and fulfillment.’ Each married couple is distinct and at unique stages in their relational, emotional, and spiritual capacities, and pastoral discernment must take dynamism and particularity into consideration…Marriage is between one man and one woman; marriage is sacramental; it is a lifelong challenge, ‘which advances gradually with the progressive integration of the gifts of God.’ …Francis seeks to highlight the kind of people married Christians are called to be so that they may do what is necessary for their marriages to be successful and lasting… Francis argues that marriage is vital for the whole of society and that society ought to be working to strengthen and preserve it.”


Here are some useful hotlines:

To report incidences of abuse, mistreatment, or neglect of the

elderly: 800-6742

Domestic violence hotline: 800-SAVE

The Children’s Authority Hotline Numbers: 996 /800-2014

ChildLine: 131 or 800-4321

Victim and Witness Support:


Child Guidance Clinic: 726-1324

National Family Services Division:

624-8218 or 627-1163.


“For unless the Christian message of love and justice shows its effectiveness through action in the cause of justice in the world, it will only with difficulty gain credibility with the people of our times.” (35)

– Justice in the World, World Synod of Catholic Bishops, 1971

CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee