The year 2022 was momentous for the Catholic Church in Trinidad and Tobago as it joined worldwide Church in the synodal journey. In the last quarter of the year, a focus for action emerged out of the dialogue and discernment.
The crime in the community at Rose Hill RC, Laventille sparked national discussion on the impact of crime on schools located in so-called ‘hot spot’ communities. Church came through the Covid-19 pandemic with necessary adjustments made to safeguard health. This year new permanent deacons were welcomed and we bid farewell to Bishop Emeritus Malcolm Galt, Fr Peter de la Bastide and others.
The Catholic News recaps the highlights of 2022!
The pandemic was not gone in 2022. Archbishop Jason Gordon appealed for no discrimination based on vaccination status. At February 17 Mass at Archbishop’s Chapel, he stated if persons chose not to be vaccinated it did not make them moral or immoral, good or bad. He said the one enemy was “the microbe” and people had to come together to defeat it.
On March 4 Dr Keith Rowley announced in the House or Representatives the relaxation of Covid-19 regulations as Covid moved into endemic phase. The pre-registration for Masses was subsequently suspended in the Archdiocese. A bulletin #24 was issued by the Health, Safety and Environment Team with the guidelines required. Previous requirements, mask wearing, social distancing, sanitising remained in effect.
In a letter dated March 24 Archbishop Gordon wrote to clergy asking them to do their part to ensure they and parishioners strictly adhere to Covid-19 protocols issued by the Health Ministry and HSE, the latter issued guidelines specific to the observation of Holy Week 2022 and return of street processions. There was an 87 per cent increase in Covid cases at the start of the month and with observances of Shouter Baptiste Liberation Day on March 30 and Holy Week to happen, the Ministry and Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith urged caution.
On Saturday, January 15, 2022, the Archdiocese Synod Team met with over 200 Synod coordinators of parishes, commissions, ecclesial ministries to provide an understanding of the synodal process at all levels
‘Authentically engaging children and youth in transformative dialogue” was forum hosted by the Archdiocese Office of Youth Ministry February 5 online.
Dr Deborah McFee, public policy researcher said inclusion will not happen by osmosis, “if it is not planned, it is not going to happen”. Youth Development Specialist Dr Henry Charles said the only way conscious inclusion and engagement will happen is by challenging “the elitist approach to power”.
A post-synodal meeting on Saturday, November 19, at Centre Pointe Mall, Chaguanas. Archbishop Gordon presented the Archdiocesan Synod Synthesis. Seven overall themes from the synthesis were discussed, out of which a final theme to guide the Archdiocese in 2023—Building Community, Inclusivity and Dialogue
A media release was issued May 18, by the Archdiocese in response to ‘Safeguarding children in community residences and child support centres in Trinidad and Tobago’, a report from a Cabinet-appointed independent committee. Archbishop Gordon said allegations of abuse grieve the heart of the Catholic Church and everything will be done to bring healing and justice. A team was established to do a systemic review of Catholic care homes for children and to devise new policies and guidelines that meet international standards for the management of homes that care for children. The team was mandated to an overview of human resource competencies, job functions, and organisational structure, operational and financial deficiencies. It was headed by Vincent Pereira, Chairman of Republic Financial Holdings Ltd.
Russian forces invaded Ukraine February 24 leading to outbreak of war. The Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ)called for peaceful solutions and end to war. CCSJ Chair, Leela Ramdeen stated via release February 28, the CCSJ was in solidarity with the Ukrainian people and also African and Asians who media reports indicated were experiencing racism in Ukraine and at the Polish border. In the Mass at the Living Water Community Chapel March 27, outgoing Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu said, “love, not war!” He noted both countries were considered “Christian” and their leaders would have heard words of Christ to love your neighbour.
March 25, Mass of Consecration at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception for Russia, Ukraine and all humanity to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The Church celebrated the Solemnity of the Annunciation. Pope Francis asked all priests and bishops to join him in consecration.
RETURN OF IN-PERSON CLASSES
It was a “relatively uneventful” reopening of Catholic primary and secondary schools under the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM). One issue was teacher absenteeism because they were in quarantine for Covid. Schools responded by reorganising their timetables and switching to online where necessary. The Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) submitted proposals to the MoE for school operations in Terms II and III, among them, principals having “autonomy to manage their schools with the goal of optimal student learning, attendance, under healthy and safe conditions”.
Students of Forms 1-3 returned to classes in school. The Ministry of Education announced January 24 the return of these students to physical classes on February 7 on a rotational basis. Chief Executive Officer of the CEBM Sharon Mangroo said priority will be given to assessing students so work plans can be prepared. As more students returned, small schools were constrained to implement rotations while catering for exam students who has to complete school-based assessments. Guidelines for engaging parents on the vaccine issue were distributed.
Full physical schooling—Early Childhood Care and Education, Infants to Standard Four classes, resumed April 19. The CEBM worked with principals on a “ritual” for the first few days of full physical school. Students in the suburban vicariate prepared poetry on their pandemic experience (CN, April 17, p.4). Magroo reported schools were physically ready and healthy and safety measures prepared.
The document ‘Creating comfort before completing the curriculum a return to school orientation/enhancement programme’ was subsequently disseminated to guide principals. It stated, “We must engage in education management and in this a humane approach to welcoming our students”.
VANDALS STRIKE AT ST FRANCIS CHURCH
The Pastoral Centre at St Francis of Assisi Belmont, was vandalised Saturday, April 23. Six windows and the glass panel door were damaged by a man with a flag pole. He, along with another man were detained by police. Mass at the Centre was held the next day as usual.
In 2022 the Education Ministry had consultations on the Secondary Entrance Assessment and Concordat. The CEBM as a member of the Association of Denominational Boards of Education gave a presentation at a meeting hosted by the Ministry on June 14.
The new school term began September 5 and the TT Unified Teachers’ Association called a day of ‘rest and reflection’.
Also, on that day the Matelot Community College and Matelot RC School was inaccessible after a landslide and in-person classes suspended temporarily until September 9. There was further disruption and landslide during the term.
Widespread flooding across the country following non-stop rain over five days November 24-28 caused several landslides and damaged road infrastructure. Schools were heavily impacted. The Mundo Nuevo RC Primary school was condemned after damage on Saturday, November 26. The students were shifted to the Talparo RC. Schools impacted included: North Oropouche RC, Ortoire RC, Basseterre RC, La Lune RC, Mayo RC.
CHURCH HELP FLOOD VICTIMS
Parish and Church organisations got organised to help families suddenly displaced and experienced massive losses from flooding. Among them the St Michael’s RC Church, Maracas, St Dominic’s Penal. The Society of St Vincent de Paul rallied the public to donate food and other items to assist.
CRIME IMPACT ON RC STUDENTS’/SCHOOLS
A meeting involving Commissioner of Police McDonald Jacob and 26 representatives from the CEBM, Ministry of Education, TT Police Service and teachers, principals of East Port of Spain schools took place at the Catholic Centre, Port of Spain.
The meeting followed a viral video circulating November 3 of Rose Hill RC Laventille pupils on the ground being comforted by their teacher while a shoot-out took place in the community. Out of this meeting police patrols were beefed up. Jacob said consensus was reached on “the way forward” and the TTPS was willing to support both with a physical presence and dealing with mental trauma.
Reggae artistes Sizzla Kolanji (Miguel Orlando Collins) and Capleton (Clifton George Bailey III) made a surprise visit to the Rose Hill RC November 24. The visit was facilitated by Rose Hill RC/CEBM, Ministry of National Security, Project Building Blocks (PBB) Crime Prevention Programme and the promoter of the Kings of the Earth concert at which Sizzla and Capleton were scheduled to perform.
Saturday, January 22, the ordination of 15 permanent deacons at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Archbishop Jason Gordon said their primary call is charity, to ensure those in community receive what they need.
Deacon Royce Thomas was ordained to the priesthood for the Baltimore Province of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer at St Anthony’s RC, Point Fortin on August 13.
The National Catholic Men’s Ministry recognised two of their members Leonard Birmingham and Deacon Lennox Toussaint on August 23 for their “dedicated, selfless service to Catholic Men’s Ministry in the Archdiocese”.
The 2020-2021 National Awards usually held September 24, Republic Day, but was deferred during the pandemic took place March 7-9. Among the persons recognised were: centenarian Sr Marie-Thérèse Rétout for outstanding and meritorious service, Sr Annetta Alexander SJC for education and Deacon Lennox Toussaint for culture.
Dr Adanna James, the Dean of Studies, the Seminary St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs won the Msgr Arthur Janssen Prize for Christian Ethics, for her dissertation ‘Towards a poetics of disability theology: from Paul Ricoeur to Eduard Glissant and Jean Vanier’. It was awarded by KU Leuven Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies and the Academic Foundation Louvain, Belgium. The news was announced In August on Theology Research News.
Catholics were recipients of National Awards for Republic Day 2022. Esme Raphael, Public Service Medal of Merit God for her work in the credit union sector; Rudylynn de Four Roberts, Chaconia Medal silver for conservation and preservation; 16-year-old Gregg Mannette, Hummingbird Medal Bronze for Gallantry and Hummingbird God for Martin ‘Terry’ Rondon for Community Service.
Archbishop Santiago De Wit Guzmán arrived in Trinidad October 7 to take up duties, He was appointed by Pope Francis on July 30 and serves as Nuncio to T&T Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname. He is the Apostolic Delegate to the Antilles.
NEW SVP PRESIDENT
Nigel Phillip was installed as President of the Society of St Vincent de Paul on October 2 at the SVP Annual General Meeting, Holy Faith Convent Couva.
The Sisters of St Joseph of Cluny San Fernando celebrated 140 years of mission in Trinidad. Sr Luciana D’Rozario SJC was in TT for the celebration as part of her canonical visit to the province of the West Indies.
St Francis of Assisi church, Belmont, marked 120 years.
St Anthony’s RC church Petit Valley celebrated 65 years.
Fr Herbert Charles 50th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.
It was a double blessing as the Congregation of Holy Faith (CHF) celebrated 75 years of mission and Sr Pauline Trim made her final profession to the CHF. Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Jason Gordon at St Theresa’s RC November 6.
Archbishop Jason Gordon celebrated his fifth anniversary at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port of Spain, on December 27.
*A special Mass February 13 at Archbishop’s Chapel for people experiencing grief. Fr Harold Imamshah, Parish Priest St Peter’s Carenage. concelebrated. Archbishop Gordon people realise they are not in control and have to remember who is, “Put your hand in the hand of God and do not let go.”
*On April 10, the Gala Belmont Heritage Benefit was held at the National Academy for the Performing Arts (NAPA) to raise funds for the continuing restoration of the St Francis of Assisi Church, Belmont. The St Francis of Assisi Building Committee held a media launch March 10 at the St Dominic’s Pastoral Centre (CN, March 27, p.4).
*The opening of Sacred Heart RC January 1, Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Archbishop Gordon was the celebrant. World Day of Peace was also on January 1. Archbishop Gordon commented on the job losses many experienced during the pandemic and said, “We may not be looking at jobs in the old traditional ways anymore but might be looking at meaningful work that can contribute in a different way to society”. Restoration began early 2021. The church celebrated 140 years this year.
National Day of Prayer and Fasting was on April 8. Archbishop Gordon and Vicar General Fr Martin Sirju broke fast with members of the Muslin community at the Charlie Anjuman Sunnat ul Jamaat Association complex.
*CCR Caribbean Conference January 7-9. The theme was The Holy Spirit, Community and Discipleship Acts 2: 42-47. Archbishop Jason Gordon spoke January 8 and urged people to be witnesses that cause people to “see the way you live and decide ‘they have something extra’… ‘I want what they have’”. Awards were presented to persons for their contribution to the CCR over the past 50 years (CN, January 16, p.3).
*La Divina Pastora procession Siparia was back in 2022, May 8. The theme for the feast day for the La Divina Pastora RC was Mary, Queen of Families. Celebrant Fr Martin Sirju said La Divina Pastoral, referred to as ‘Siparee Mai’ is the mother of all families, Catholic, Hindu, Spiritual Baptists and Pentecostal (CN, May 15, p.3).
*In-person Laventille Devotions resumed May 15 at the after a hiatus during Covid. A new feature at the Laventille site was a large covered area for pilgrims (CN, May 22, p. 1,23).
*Corpus Christi, June 16 was back on the streets and many people participated. Vicar General Fr Martin Sirju presided at Mass at the Cathedral. It was a special moment as the last procession was in 2011, as the Cathedral closed for renovations in 2012 (CN, June 26, p.3).
*A permanent memorial erected for the late Ursula Babsie Bleasdell at the Santa Rosa Cemetery for the 100th anniversary of her birth and 50th anniversary of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CN, July 17, p.3).
*Mass at the UWI Chaplaincy St Augustine on August 6 hosted by the Office of Youth Ministry of the Archdiocese for adults entering or returning to schools overseas. Archbishop Gordon mentioned the challenges they will face including peer pressure and struggling to believe in God but they were only equipped to overcome various trials by remembering their true identity in God (CN, August 14, p.3).
*Caribbean School for Catholic Communications 2022 was held online August 1-6 the theme was Connecting the Docs (CN, August 14 p.3).
*An indoor play park opened Sunday, September 4 at Sea Lots named after Archbishop Anthony Pantin. The park was sponsored by the Eternal Light Community and Pizza Boys. It was blessed by Archbishop Gordon (CN, September 11, p,1).
*Pope Francis received a handmade stole made by Bliss Vidalis-Lewis.
It was presented to him by Bernadette Gopaul-Ramkhalawan on behalf of the Antilles region during an audience at the 3rd International Catechetical Congress in Rome September 9-10. The theme was The Catechist, a witness of the new life in Christ.
Rest In Peace…
Former Moderator of the Emmanuel Community John Trevor Mackay, 85 years, died February 22 (CN, March 6, p.3) His funeral Mass was held March 3, at Assumption RC, Maraval.
Sr Gloria Laurie OP died March 16, at the Dominican Convent on Calvary Arima. She was 93 years and had served 71 years of religious life (CN, April 4, p.30).
Bishop Emeritus Malcolm Galt died October 16. His Funeral was at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (CN, October 28-November 3, p.3).
Fr Peter de la Bastide died October 28, after a period of illness. He was 64 years. Fr de la Bastide’s Funeral Mass was at St Patrick’s RC November 1 (CN, November 4-10, p.3).
Sr Gabrielle Mason SJC died October 28, Grenville, Grenada. Her Funeral Mass was November 10 in Grenada (CN, November 25-December 1, p.3).