By Christine Gonsalves
Allyson Pantin: July 2, 1947 – October 18, 2021
I first met Allyson over 30 years ago when we were brought to a Teams of Our Lady meeting by a priest. It was a holy mess, with children laughing and making noise in one part of the building, other older children running up to me and asking if they could escort my children to the babysitters?
Was I in Heaven? People actually embracing children? I had never had that experience in the Church or out of the Church, up to that time.
I don’t think I have ever encountered this embrace, except within the Teams meetings. This was due to Allyson’s abundant, overflowing love of children and charity.
Allyson brought that welcoming spirit to the Teams, as she, her husband Maldon, and Fr Neil Rodriguez CSSp (dec) were the founding members in Trinidad and Tobago. It was the only place –the Teams retreats at Emmaus Centre, the mixed Teams, and the monthly meetings – where I found solace and welcoming arms that enabled me to worship God with my children.
Allyson’s hospitality and openness to life was phenomenal, and her example imbues Teams T&T up to now. We know we are called to welcome the stranger, the foreigner, and the other members; this hospitality in fact is an unspoken ‘rule’ of Teams. It’s just that she wore it so well.
She loved and protected her children and husband like a lioness—no-one could say anything bad about them. She guarded them fiercely; something I admired greatly, because I had this timid way, that if you were in authority and if you were an aunt or elder, or if you were a nun or priest, I would be tempted to take your side over my children. Not Allyson.
So many times, Allyson was there to rescue me, in my marriage—what to do, how to handle this or that. She was always welcoming. Her phone probably rang off the hook with people seeking advice and she found time for them and for her children! How did she do that? God’s grace and a supportive husband.
She was a devout and holy woman, someone whom I told my husband many times, “I think Allyson has all the qualities of a saint”. She lived her calling with joy and acceptance.
I remember once calling her for help, and when she nonchalantly started telling me about her day… up at 3 a.m. making 72 bakes! What?
After listening to her, I had forgotten my woes, and being pregnant I started to crave her bakes—she was a great cook! She promised if any were left, she would send some for me (note – she’s in Tacarigua and I’m in Woodbrook). She didn’t even get fed up with my nagging calls, “anyone around to bring them?”.
Allyson had seven children: one was Luke, her baby who died. Her other six children are children any mother would be proud to have.
Allyson went to Our Lord on Monday, October 18, 2021, the feast of St Luke, her baby’s namesake. We truly believe her son, her little baptised angel came for her and took her with him to Paradise. He is now spending time with his Mama.
We are all sad and miss her terribly, especially her family, but now we can ask her anything at any time.
As a member of her Team (Our Lady of Guadalupe) said, “If the thief could get there (Heaven) in the same day, Allyson could be safely home within the very hour of death.” I truly believe this.