The effect of the mission and charism of the Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny (SJC) on the development of Trinidad and Tobago has been “extraordinary”.
Archbishop Jason Gordon made this comment at the Pro-Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, San Fernando, as the Cluny Sisters celebrated the Feast Day of their foundress Blessed Anne Marie Javouhey, and 140 years of St Joseph’s Convent, San Fernando.
Commending the SJC’s dedication, he stated, “I don’t think we can completely understand the contribution you have made to this Caribbean area and to the development of women at a time when women weren’t given many opportunities for growth and development.” Women who have passed through SJC schools “have done amazing things throughout the region” and exerted their influence on many others, he said.
Archbishop Gordon stated the foundress Blessed Anne Marie came when slavery was still part of the region. She was a woman of faith who saw clearly that children could be set free by education, love, and care.
He said, “that genius and gift to the Church brings this charism that we celebrate today of St Joseph of Cluny, and that charism as it has manifested in our Archdiocese, has been about the education of the young”.
The child passing through the SJC school experiences the inner dignity to know whatever they are capable of doing or need to explore, “there should be no fetters”.
Archbishop Gordon prayed for Blessed Anne Marie’s intercession that the SJC can be more formidable than she was, and have “double portion” of her spirit for the work required in the present time, which is “nearly as bizarre as her time”.
He prayed that her spirit infused in and through them may light the way and chart the development for young people for the next 120 years.
In attendance at the Mass was Sr Luciana D’Rozario SJC, delegate of the Superior General, who is on a canonical visit to the SJC Province of the West Indies (June 24–August 8) and San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello.
Celebrating 140 years of presence and service, Provincial Superior Sr Maureen Alexander SJC, said SJC San Fernando continues to impact in positive ways on the lives of people of this nation.
“This institution continues to be a beacon in south bringing hope and enlightenment for people of all walks of life,” Sr Maureen said. Referring to the visit by General Councilor Sr Luciana, from the mother house in Paris, she said upon her return she would take back the blessing she received from her visits to the communities.
Sr Maureen said the shared “enriched encounters” strengthen their resolve to continue their faith journey that began with Blessed Anne Marie. In the early days of mission, she asserted the Sisters came in their youth, braving the conditions of the time “to sow seeds of faith and hope…in a disenfranchised society at the time”.
They responded to a voice which beckoned them to go, sell, give, come, follow. It is a call from Jesus that resounds through the ages. Sr Maureen said the Lord of the harvest has never ceased calling labourers and awaits voices bold and passionate enough to say, “here I am Lord, send me”.
Every jubilee calls for a celebration as it is a landmark in the history of the institution, but Sr Luciana said it is also a time of introspection, evaluation and planning with greater hope and a wider vision.
“Let us open our hearts so the Lord moves us to move fruitfully in the years to come. May God continue to be with you in all your endeavours and may all who step into this institution grow in wisdom and understanding and live their lives fully thus building a better society.”
She exhorted the youth to open their minds and hearts, listen to God speaking to them, and if He is calling them to religious life and to priesthood, not hesitate in responding to His invitation. “You will be blessed”, she said.
Mayor Regrello brought greetings and told of the history and impact of SJC in San Fernando. —LPG