By Lara Pickford-Gordon
Bad weather on Friday, July 15, a landslip, and the closure of the North Coast Road did not stop Our Lady of Mt Carmel RC Church, Blanchisseuse celebrating its 150th anniversary with Mass on Sunday, July 17. The church is also commemorating the 183rd anniversary of the establishment of the parish.
The North Coast Road was closed until Monday, July 18 thereby preventing pilgrims including from the Catholic Youth Commission, San Raphael, Chaguanas and the Cathedral parishes from attending and participating in the day’s activities.
Before the liturgy, the names of the 257 families living in the parish were called, then Deacon Peter Timothy gave a historical presentation on the Blanchisseuse parish. He explained the French influence in the naming of the area since Trinidad was a colony of Spain since 1498 then under British rule in 1797. He contextualised the French influence with the 1783 Cedula of Population.
Deacon Timothy explained to the congregation the Cedula was the Spanish attempt to develop the island as a plantation economy so free land was offered for cultivation. The condition attached was they had to be Roman Catholic.
Deacon Timothy said Trinidad was important prior to the policy because of its proximity to the South American mainland. He encouraged the community to become involved in the work in progress of completing the history of the parish.
Parish Priest Fr Kenneth Assing was the celebrant at the Mass and gave the intercessory prayers, while Deacon Timothy preached the homily. He said the gospel reading (Lk 10: 38-42) calls into focus the question of whether Jesus is first.
“Where in the scheme or schedule of my daily activities do I place my personal time with Jesus? Mary’s choice to sit at Jesus feet as a disciple reminds us that our first call is to relationship with Jesus a call to be with Him.”
The families of the community were presented with tokens comprising: a pamphlet with an outline of Church history, a prayer to Our Lady of Mt Carmel, a prayer of blessings for homes, a Catholic News, vigil candles and vegetable seeds.
In an interview, Fr Assing said there was intermittent rain during the day and the sky was overcast but the celebration continued. A boat ride for visitors was cancelled and the food prepared for sale on the day was shared with persons present and from Morne La Croix, Las Cuevas, La Fillette and Brasso Seco communities.
People enjoyed the meal, fraternised and according to Fr Assing, “just enjoyed the moment”. The day was promoted as a day of prayer which Fr Assing believes contributed to a more reflective atmosphere. He observed even the “fellas on the block” seemed pensive. The parish priest was hopeful a “spiritual renewal” was taking place in the life of the parish and community.
Pastoral activities will be held this year at Our Lady of Sorrows, Morne La Croix on Sunday September 11; St Michael’s, Las Cuevas on Sunday, October 2. Next year at St Joseph the Worker, Brasso Seco on Sunday, April 30 and Our Lady of Fatima, La Fillette on Sunday, May 21.