The 36th annual conference of the Diocesan Clergy of the Province of Castries finally took place after a two-year delay due to Covid-19, in the Diocese of St John’s-Basseterre. This was due to the determined efforts of Fr George Williams and his coordinating team.
There were representatives from all the five dioceses including Roseau (Dominica) and Kingstown (St Vincent and the Grenadines) except the Diocese of St George’s-in-Grenada who experienced problems with cancelled flights.
On May 17, Vicar General Fr Pierre Tevi-Benissan gave a summary of the Synod on Synodality in the St John’s-Basseterre Diocese. He indicated the successes as well as the challenges which that process posed for the Diocese, one of which was the fact that the Diocese comprises other family islands.
Bishop Robert Llanos of St John’s-Basseterre welcomed all to the conference and to his diocese and shared some thoughts on the role of the clergy as shepherds of souls using the text of John 21:15–19, in which Jesus asked John three times “Do you love me?”.
He emphasised that it is the commitment to love Jesus unconditionally which makes us worthy shepherds, able to face the challenges which accompanies this mission.
Bishop Llanos also placed before the Association a request to have a workshop for members with the Family and Laity Commission of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) for three days at the next conference to deal with several issues facing family life today.
A decision was taken to have the next conference in the Archdiocese of Castries, St Lucia in 2023. A team was appointed with representation from the five dioceses to collaborate with Bishop Llanos.
The afternoon session was spent listening to the stories of how the clergy were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. This was a very moving experience as the clergy present shared very deeply about the impact which the pandemic had on their personal lives.
On May 18 and 19, the clergy reflected on several issues including vocations, clergy retirement, the way forward for the Association for the next ten to 20 years, and the need to put a strategic plan in place for the future.
The highlight was the May 18 ordination to the priesthood of a missionary from Togo, Fr Jean Paul Sade. The clergy concelebrated Holy Mass May 19 with the parishioners of Holy Family Cathedral.
The election of a new executive was supposed to have taken place but since there were not sufficient members from each diocese of the Province, it was decided that the coordinating team collaborating with Bishop Llanos for the next conference should function as an interim executive, and election of a new executive take place in 2023.
— Msgr Michel Francis (Out-going President), Archdiocese of Castries