Saturday April 22nd: “It is I; do not be afraid.”
April 22, 2023
Sunday April 23rd: On the road
April 23, 2023

Getting to Know Series: Barbara Lake – Managing Director, Liturgical Commission

Barbara Lake, Managing Director, Liturgical Commission has many anecdotes about her life which can keep the listener rapt.

Lake is of British and Austrian parentage. Her British father was in the army and as a result, she lived between England and Singapore. Raised Catholic, at 14 she was sent to a Catholic boarding school and graduated from Convent of the Holy Child Jesus, Blackpool, England.

Her work life began as a secretary for a few months then at 19, she got a job as Assistant House Mother at a Yorkshire Children’s Home. Lake was in charge of 16 children ranging in ages from six months to teens.

She recalled a troubled eight-year-old pulling a bread knife on her. He was sent to the Home for being “beyond parental control”; they later got along very well. “He used to lie in the middle of the road outside the school and scream.”

Lake eventually had to leave the job because it took an emotional and physical toll. She could not bear to see the children’s pain when their parents did not visit. Looking back, she said the job was upsetting “from day one” but “a good grounding”.

Later as a receptionist at a 52-bedroom hotel in Yorkshire, Lake worked her way up to Assistant Manager, Food and Beverage. She also has experience in the music industry as a tour coordinator for the UK and Europe tours of some classic American artistes like Roy Orbison, Johnny Mathis, Lena Horne, Harry Belafonte, and Tony Bennett.

The ‘Father of Rock and Roll’, Chuck Berry was troublesome. He was booked for a six-week European tour, and she said, “the roadie would call me from Paris or Denmark saying, ‘he’s due on stage in ten minutes and we can’t find him’ and I would say what do you want me to do about it, I’m in London’…”

In 1985, Lake married Trinidadian Richard Lake, Managing Director, Halliburton with responsibility for Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and later Libya. The couple lived in England, Qatar, Nigeria, and the Ivory Coast between 1978 and 1992. They relocated to Trinidad in 1992. She is the mother of two adult children, James, and Natasha.

From Evangelisation to Liturgical

Lake was with the Evangelization Commission 2004–2012 before joining the Liturgical Commission in 2013. It was part-time, three days weekly and she was two days at the Church of the Assumption, Maraval.

From the onset she could see it was not a part-time job. Lake said her first impression walking into the space at the Catholic Centre, Independence Square, was that it looked like a warehouse. “I said to the team, my Chairman, Fr [Garfield] Rochard, ‘We have to renovate, this is not a working environment, a decent working environment for people’.”

Renovations were done. She began to look at the operations of the bookstore operated by the Commission. She noticed there were no accounting systems, records for customers’ orders and stocktaking. Lake said some training of staff, Alisha Eugene John, and Richardson Gonzales, was done and systems implemented.

“My first year was really putting systems in place, running training programmes for lay ministers in various vicariates and also getting to know the team.” The Liturgical Commission has a committee that is chaired by Fr Michael de Verteuil and comprises Justice Anthony Gafoor, Fr Alan Hall, Fr Kwesi Alleyne, Fiona Bereaux, who is head of the Commission’s music team, Alana Seepersad, and Lake.

The committee typically meets once monthly. “We discuss what the Commission is doing, which way we are going to go, anything to do with music because our music team is very busy.” The music team hosted a workshop on ‘Composing Responsorial Psalms’ on March 30. Lake said the response was “amazing!”.

Volunteer advisors to the music team are Bro Paschal Jordan OSB, Fr Rochard and Jill-Ann Walters, music teacher and parishioner of Our Lady of Mt Carmel in Carapichaima. Lake said, “I started looking at other programmes and I realised the lay ministers’ training was coming up in 2013 so I just went in the deep really,” she said.

Liturgy School and other events

The Commission hosts a Liturgy School of which Eugene John apprised her. It began in 1977 with Fr Ildefons Schroots OSB, Fr Michel de Verteuil CSSp, and Bro Paschal. It was originally called the Antilles School of Liturgy and gradually was localised within different islands in the Antilles. There are Schools in Belize, Grenada, Jamaica, St Lucia, and St Vincent.

Usually held in August, the School is intended to be an experience of Church, study, prayer, and life. This is done through lectures, workshops, and liturgies. Workshops have been done on: pre-Vatican II, post-Vatican II, leadership, liturgical rites, and music.

Lake said, “One of our biggest problems is people don’t sing the right hymns at Masses and they also take other people’s stuff from America and put different words to it and there we have a major copyright issue.”

Last year, 128 persons registered for Liturgy School and Lake said participants have expressed interest in attending annually. There are people who take vacation to coincide with the two-week school.

Lake said dance and drama used to be part of the School but faded away as interested persons were not 18 years; the School targets adults. Some preliminary talks had taken place with the Episcopal Delegate for Youth, Taresa Best Downes to have an event for the 11–18 age group. “Obviously in a different way…a type of liturgy school, to include dance and drama.”

Being with the Commission for the past ten years, she realised people were attending Mass but did not understand the liturgy or importance of the different parts. “That is something we have worked on, and we are running workshops on and writing articles.”

Lake said participants in programmes hosted by the Commission gain insights, “no matter how long people have been at church…they will admit the fact they didn’t know, and it is heartwarming because it also means they are happy with the information they have now received”.

She said Fr de Verteuil has done “quite a few” training sessions for lectors. The Commission conducted nine (six workshops and three in-person) hospitality sessions last year October-November in Tortuga. Persons from the hospitality industry were involved.

Lake said hospitality was more than greeting and seating people, “most importantly” was the spiritual side. Another round of training will take place next month.

By Lara Pickford-Gordon