On Saturday, January 22, Archbishop Jason Gordon was expected to ordain 15 men to the permanent diaconate. Here are the aspirants.
HILARY JUAN BENGOCHEA
Parish: St Joseph, St Joseph
Occupation: Business Consultant and Trainer. Married to Sandee for 43 years, with four children (one deceased) and three granddaughters. “This has been a life-transforming journey of faith and knowledge of our sacramental Church. I hope to serve my parish and diocese in collaboration with my Archbishop, parish priests and Church community.”
Parish: Our Lady of Montserrat Tortuga
“I belong to the Sacred Heart Community in the parish of Our Lady of Montserrat, Tortuga. My wife’s name is Lucia, and we are the thankful parents of two blessed young adults, Michael and Annamarie. The journey to ordination thus far has been one of deeper encounters with God, uplifting teaching, mentoring and genuine supportive brotherhood with my fellow candidates. While receiving deeper insights about God and the Catholic faith and being enriched, I was being brought to a place of further repentance and conversion. Thank God for His Holy Spirit who empowered me to deal with the challenges of juggling family life, work, and study. I am also thankful for the years of formation in Zion RC Community and support from my family. At this time, there is joyful anticipation of God’s continuous love and grace as well as the support of my fellow brothers and sisters whom I am called upon to serve.”
Parish: St Charles Borromeo, Tunapuna
Marital Status: Married for 27 years to Loanna Caesar
Occupation: Principal of Tunapuna Boys’ RC School. “From my penning the Letter of Request in 2015; through the discernment period; through the evaluations; the various sessions online and in person and the various phases of installation as Lector, Acolyte and Candidate; this entire journey has been humbling and empowering. If I were to be stopped at this point from going any further, I would consider myself blessed and be forever grateful for the training, experience, and insights that I would have acquired and experienced over the years. To be considered by my then Parish Priest, Fr Reggie (Reginald Hezekiah), to be supported by my wife Loanna EVERY step of the way, and to be given the opportunity to serve the Church in this way, has been and continues to be a blessing. Once ordained, I am looking forward to working with and assisting the parish priest of the parish to which I am assigned. I look forward to collaborating with the people of the parish, especially the youth and the elderly. I pray that I may be able to contribute to the building up of persons within the community and to be like a good Scout compass, always showing others the way, towards Jesus Christ.”
Parish: Our Lady of Assumption, South Oropouche
Curtis Cazeau is a retired Works Planner for the Water and Sewage Authority (WASA) and has served his Parish of South Oropouche as a Lay and Eucharistic Minister for over 15 years. Growing up in the village of Fyzabad, Curtis has always felt the pull towards God and service. He believes that the best way to lead is by example and lives by the scripture “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13).
Parish: Our Lady of Montserrat, Tortuga
“Greetings! My name is Keith Dass, and I am married to my wife Neera for 16 years. I am a Mechanical Engineering Technician and I work as a Shift Lead at the Guaracara Refinery, as part of the preservation team under Damus Limited. My vocation to service was nurtured by my parents, Kelvin and Florencia, who selflessly led by example. Coupled with the Catholic education that was afforded me at Mayo RC Primary and Presentation College, San Fernando, my early upbringing helped form my Catholic identity. My desire to serve the Catholic Church has provided me with the opportunity to actively participate in a variety of ministries. I serve as a Lay Minister in the Parish of Tortuga and I am also involved in the Men’s Ministry, the Family Life Unit, and the Ministry Animation Team. This journey has taken me to new levels of development, and I am looking forward to continuing my Ministry of service.”
JOSEPH ‘JOSE’ GOMES
Parish: St Peter’s, Carenage
Jose is an Insurance Broker who currently serves at the parish of St Peter’s in Carenage as a Lay Minister and Parish Administration Coordinator. He is married to Rose Aquing, for the past 38 years, and they have two children, Christian (35) and Alyssa (32), who are both married. St Peter’s is his home parish since 1997. More fondly referred to as ‘Uncle Jose’ by the younger parishioners, Jose has been involved in parish Ministry since 2008.
“The journey to the Permanent Diaconate has been challenging and rewarding at the same time, as I have grown in my faith both academically and spiritually, and have built some strong bonds of friendship and brotherhood with my fellow candidates over the past five years. I am looking forward to serving my parish and the local Church more fully as a Permanent Deacon. It is important to me to also help others on their own faith journey and to be present for others. The Permanent Diaconate is a Ministry of service and I see this as following Christ as a Servant Leader, with patience and humility, as one who leads from the heart and desires the good of others while helping them to grow.”
Parish: St Philip and St James, Chaguanas
“I am married and a former school principal. The journey has been one of ongoing transformation. The formation has touched on all aspects of human development. It was a journey of dismantling and rebuilding. The different courses and group interactions provided deep and wide insights into the richness of our Catholic faith and its practices. They facilitated a bridging of the mind and the heart. I am better able to teach and live out my vocation. After ordination, I am looking forward to ongoing formation, continued service, and faithfully living out my vocation within my family, the Church, and the wider community.”
Parish: Church of the Holy Spirit, Malabar
A retired soldier who served the people of Trinidad and Tobago for 30 years, Joachim Hernandez is excited at entering the Ministry of service to the people of God. Joachim and Debra have been married for 37 years and have two daughters, Nikita and Kassie and their grandson, Jayden. He got involved in service through ministry at his home parish, Malabar, in 2009 and they include Eucharistic Adoration, youth, stewardship, Men’s Ministry, Pastoral Council, Ministry Animation Team, and the Santa Rosa/Malabar Cluster as its Cluster Pastoral Coordinator. He says this period of spiritual and academic formation has impacted his life as a husband, father, son, and a man in ministry in a most positive way. It also serves to remind him that spiritual growth and development continues beyond the physical or virtual classroom into the classroom of life. Joachim has a strong passion, under the fire of the Holy Spirit to serve the people of God where he is called or sent.
Parish: Holy Family, Mt Lambert
Justice of Appeal Malcolm Holdip is from the Holy Family RC Church, Mt Lambert. He is a widower and father of three adult children. “The journey thus far has been spiritually insightful due to the content of the many biblical courses over the last five years, the deepened personal relationships which developed among the brothers and their wives and the personal interest and liturgical direction of the Archbishop and priests of the diocese which so far has helped to fashion me to the will of the Lord.”
Parish: St Anthony’s, Point Fortin
Retired secondary school Social Studies teacher. Husband of Bernadine, father of three sons, Kevin, Kennon, and Kenwyn (deceased), and grandfather of Saniya. “Challenging is the road to the diaconate but exciting is the prospect of being able to better serve my brothers and sisters through this formation. The privilege of being a servant to the people of God far outweighs the rigours of the journey, one that brings me so much closer to Jesus Christ.”
CHARLES PETER OLIVEIRE
Parish: San Juan
Current parish: Mary Immaculate Queen of the Universe, Bourg Mulatresse.
Catechist at St Joseph’s College. “This journey towards the diaconate continues to be an enriching and fulfilling experience for me and my family. Once ordained, I pray that I would always do my best in serving the people of God and glorify the Lord through my thoughts, words, and actions in order to lead others to Christ.”
Parish: St Francis of Assisi, Erin
Retired carpenter/joiner, and General Draughting Technician. “My journey is extremely formative, and the new learnings gave me a better understanding of the faith and a greater yearning for Jesus. I look forward to serving the people of God; assisting in their spiritual development.”
ANDY R SINGH
Parish: St Paul’s, Couva
“My present parish is St Paul’s, Couva where I have been in Ministry for approximately 24 years. I was appointed the Parish Administration Co-ordinator effective from December 2019. I have been married to Tricia for the past 23 years; we do not have any children. I am a career civil servant for the past 35 years at the Ministry of Finance where I presently hold a senior managerial position in the Budget Division. My five-year diaconal formation has been a very exciting, enjoyable, and spiritually rewarding experience. It has allowed me spiritual and personal growth, and also taught me to manage my time more effectively between commitments to family, work, the parish and to the rigours of academic studies. I have also forged deep friendships with my brothers as we have journeyed together and prayerfully supported each other through triumphs and trials. Upon ordination and with sacramental grace, I look forward to growing more into the icon of Christ so that I can effectively serve the Archdiocese and my brothers and sisters through the Ministry of Word, Liturgy and Charity.”
Parish: St Theresa’s, Barataria
Nigel Thomas, married 25 years to Heather, who together have three daughters, Kathryn, Antonia and Xahrya. He is a member of the parish of Barataria and an Information Technology Specialist by profession. “The journey to the Diaconate has been quite an enriching, and at times, a challenging one. It has been enriching because through our course of studies, I have been further exposed to the richness of the doctrinal and pastoral aspects of the Catholic Church.
With regards to the journey being challenging, balance had to be shared between family, work and studies.
When ordained, along with my family, I pray that I can continue to serve those within my parish. It is my hope and prayer that through our witness as a family, we can encourage other families to serve in ways that will foster married life and encourage the youth to come forward in their vast numbers.”
DR PETER TIMOTHY
Parish: St John the Evangelist, Diego Martin
Occupation: Episcopal Delegate for Evangelization. Married 33 years with six children. “These last four years I view as the coming together of so many wonderful and challenging years of ministry which started for me in 1982 when the then parish priest of St John’s, Fr Liam Murphy OP (deceased) asked Allan Kelly and myself to take responsibility to form a Youth Prayer Group in the parish. The next step was Youth Leadership training where I encountered Fr John Theodore CSSp who became my mentor and is my incredibly good friend today. Along the way, I met Subina Knights now Timothy who also played a major part by her encouragement in my spiritual formation. I pay tribute to my family of origin, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, the St John the Evangelist Charismatic Prayer group whose leadership team led by James John (deceased) invested their time, talent, and treasure to assist the spiritual formation of a young man who they viewed as a future leader in the Church, and the members of the Youth Group, Disciples of the Lord Jesus. I also mention the ecclesial communities, particularly the Zion RC Community led by Mary Baptiste that introduced me to and formed me in the Ministry of Intercession, and all those who have ministered to me and with me. I was formed and raised by the Roman Catholic community of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain, I came from you and after my ordination I will be going wherever I am assigned to be of service to you. Please remember me in your daily prayer.”