OUR CATHOLIC ICONS: Leela Ramdeen’s passion for justice
June 28, 2022
14th Sunday in OT (C)
June 28, 2022

Life is a journey

SOCIAL JUSTICE – rcsocialjustice.org

By Leela Ramdeen

Consultant, CCSJ/AMMR & Director, CREDI

My many years of service as Episcopal Delegate for Social Justice/Chair of CCSJ & AMMR came to an end on June 30. When I returned to T&T from England, I had planned to work with my father and sister as an attorney-at-law, and to open a retreat centre. However, God had other plans for me.

The Archdiocese was in the midst of a Synod and Archbishop Jason Gordon, then Fr Jason, has finally informed me that he was the one who informed Archbishop Edward Gilbert CSsR that he knows a “woman” (me) who had returned from living in London and that I would be a good person to lead the newly formed Social Justice Commission that was about to be established following the Synod of 2003 – particularly as I had worked with the late Cardinal Basil Hume for many years, as Vice-Chair of his Committee for the Caribbean Community. He was the Chair.

I was invited by Archbishop Gilbert to a meeting to discuss his “offer” and was accompanied by Holy Faith Sisters Sr Roberta O’Flaherty CHF and Sr Juliet Rajah CHF. And the rest is history. But wait! I shall continue my life’s journey as Consultant to CCSJ/AMMR. His Grace is not letting me leave so easily. Or rather, the Holy Spirit still has work for me in the Archdiocese. I am reminded of Pope Francis’ 2013 statement:

“Always remember this: life is a journey. It is a path, a journey to meet Jesus. At the end, and forever. A journey in which we do not encounter Jesus is not a Christian journey. It is for the Christian to continually encounter Jesus, to watch him, to let himself be watched over by Jesus, because Jesus watches us with love; he loves us so much, he loves us so much and he is always watching over us. To encounter Jesus also means allowing oneself to be gazed upon by him…”

It is important to note that I shall remain in the following positions:

  • Consultor to the Antilles Episcopal Conference’s Commission for Promoting Integral Human Development (Justice and Peace, Migration and Tourism, Health Care), which is chaired by Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB of Georgetown, Guyana;
  • Director of The Catholic Religious Education Development Institute (CREDI);
  • Secretary of the Council for Responsible Political Behaviour. CCSJ is the Secretariat and Dr Bishnu Ragoonath is the Chair of the Council.

My family migrated to London in 1967, so we are part of the Windrush Generation. I arrived at Waterloo Station, after journeying from Southampton, in June 1967.  So this one “heart” has two homes. The Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury, Essex June 22, 1948.  June 22 is now celebrated in the UK as Windrush Day which marks the arrival of Caribbean immigrants to the shores of Britain and honours the British Caribbean community. An estimated half a million people responded to the call to help rebuild Britain after the 2nd World War.

You can imagine my joy when I heard that my great niece, Amira, had the honour of unveiling the Windrush Statue at Waterloo and appears on the front page of the London Metro June 24 with Kate (Catherine), Duchess of Cambridge. Amira also met Prince William and the legendary Baroness Floella Benjamin, DBE, DL – a Trinidadian-British actress, singer, presenter, author, businesswoman, and politician. Amira’s grandparents, my brother, Anil (Speedy), and Clary Salandy, are Directors/owners of Mahogany Carnival Arts. Some of their costumes also formed part of the unveiling event at Waterloo.

And, as we celebrated Lord Kitchener’s 100th birthday this year (April 18),  remember, he arrived on the Windrush and sang the now famous Calypso: ‘London is the place for me’. Migration is as old as humanity. Those who left our Caribbean shores to help rebuild Britain after the 2nd World War contributed and continue to contribute to nation-building there  in spite of the racism  they continue to face. Let’s pray and work for justice and peace.



“Jesus asks us to be present to those in need of help, regardless of whether or not they belong to our social group…. In other words, he challenges us to put aside all differences and, in the face of suffering, to draw near to others with no questions asked. I should no longer say that I have neighbours to help, but that I must myself be a neighbour to others..” (81)

– Pope Francis, Fratelli Tuitti

CCSJ Social Justice Education Committee