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St Anthony’s, Petit Valley is 65 years strong

The parishioners of St Anthony’s had waited for this day and there was an air of anticipation for the liturgy. Voices were joyfully raised for the entrance procession which included a dance movement.

The church was built 65 years ago on Morne Coco Road, Petit Valley and named after St Anthony of Padua. Its anniversary date is February 17, 2022, but due to Covid-19 the Mass was postponed to Monday, July 11 which allowed for renovations to be done.

Before blessing the church and its congregation, chief celebrant Archbishop Jason Gordon prayed that the re-blessing of the church be taken as “a sign of repentance and a remembrance of baptism”.

As the Archbishop spoke on the definition of Church and parish, applause went up for persons present who were there 65 years ago including the widower from the first wedding ceremony performed.

Archbishop Gordon asked the questions: “What is church? What is it to be a parish?” The church and its altar allow “families seeking union with God” to be formed as people of God partaking in His very substance in the Eucharist. He continued, “the strength of each family is vital for the wellbeing of the parish” and everyone can agree to that.

Archbishop Gordon reminded us of the story of our patron saint. He was the only saint whose canonisation was done in less than a year after his death as people saw him as a saint even in his life.

The main hallmark of St Anthony was his love for scripture leading to conversion and so this church space was described as one of “deep conversion”. Our celebration and thanksgiving therefore, according to the Archbishop should be about “families sanctified, people come to conversion, so many hearts drawn closer and closer to God”.

He ended his homily praying that, “God will send holy men and women who are willing to live their vocation” as the harvest is abundant, but the labourers are few.

The offertory was special as it incorporated in the procession, that sweet bread/bread link synonymous with any St Anthony’s celebration. The food donations collected for the Society of St Vincent de Paul were also represented here.

The opening remarks were done by Andre Augustus and in closing, parish priest Fr Christopher Lumsden gave thanks to God for our blessings. He also thanked Archbishop Gordon, Bishop Emeritus Malcolm Galt CSSp, his brother priests, organising committees and all others who served including the Valley Harps Steel Orchestra.

Presentations were then made to persons who had worked on the renovation project. To the utter delight of the congregation, a papal blessing was presented to Aldwin Fleming for his dedication and hard work through the years.

For those deceased, who also served well, a memorial wall was established.

O St Anthony – Never fail to aid us in every needy hour.

—Suzan Mc Kain, parishioner