By Ottrisha Carter
Are you thinking about registering for the upcoming virtual biennial Conference on Theology in the Caribbean Today (CTCT)? You should be! CTCT hosted a virtual media launch on October 8, in which panellists shared some of the highlights of the upcoming conference which takes place from November 8 – 12, 2021.
One of CTCT’s founding members, Msgr Patrick ‘Paba’ Anthony was present. He discussed CTCT’s history, taking the panellists and viewers on a journey back to 1994 when the organisation was formed.
Msgr Anthony explained that the late Fr Michel de Verteuil CSSp, then Fr Joseph Harris CSSp, and he had felt the need to work together to create a safe space in which people could freely discuss what God was saying to them.
He believes that their friendship helped them to remain committed to the task, especially when people reacted violently to their work or critiqued their efforts.
Fr Donald Chambers, the General Secretary of the Antilles Episcopal Conference and current chair of the CTCT Secretariat was also present. He explained the factors which contributed to this year’s theme The Covid Effect: Turning The Tide.
Fr Chambers described the pandemic as a period of disconnection which is filled with ambiguity and uncertainty. Although the coronavirus pandemic highlights the crises of disconnections in people’s lives, CTCT saw it as an opportunity to experience reconnection. Hence, ‘the covid effect’ and ‘turning the tide’ symbolise the disconnections and reconnections of the pandemic.
According to Fr Chambers, “…We can expect to see creative, interesting, provocative, stimulating, informative presentations.” For example, Grenadian priest, Fr Hugh Logan, is expected to present on how psalms of trust can help Caribbean people on their journey towards healing and transformation in the wake of the disconnection in Caribbean society manifested in the breakdown of the social fabric because of erosion of trust.
Another presentation will be carried out by Trinbagonian educators, Sr Renee Hall OP, Stephan de Gale, and Jill-Ann Walters-Morris. This group will be focusing on ‘Transitioning into a new space, Covid and Catholic Education.’ They will explore how Covid has negatively impacted education but provides an opportunity for a new learning environment.
Both Msgr Anthony and Fr Chambers explained that many of the participants of this movement have no formal education in theology. However, God has blessed everyone with an intellectual capacity to reflect on their own personal experiences of living out their faith in the Caribbean. Therefore, CTCT is open to everyone! Msgr Anthony said that Fr de Verteuil believed that “every Christian who is trying to live out his or her faith in a reflective way, questioning God, asking why this or why that, is doing theology, because theology is faith seeking understanding.”
Rev Dr Sonia Hinds of Barbados, an Anglican priest and CTCT member, expressed her gratitude to the founders for beginning this initiative. She was also happy to be a part of CTCT which has a space for persons of all religious backgrounds.
Angelo Kurbanali, a young Trinbagonian theologian shared about the youth forum in the November conference, in which young people will have a youth space from which they present.
All young people of the Caribbean region are especially invited to tune in to the youth segment of the conference, since theology isn’t only for older academics to explore, as it is often believed.
He expressed, “We [in the CTCT] have a lot of young people … presenting and we have a lot to say. We want to do theology too. We want to question and seek to understand our faith in the exact same way.”
Everyone is encouraged to register and support CTCT at ctctoday.org or Facebook@ctct1994. The cost to attend the conference is TT $300. or US $50.University students and persons over 75 years can register for free. There is also a special day pass for TT $100.