Fr Thomas Lawson’s OP unwavering commitment, compassion and wisdom has touched countless lives in the course of his 42 years in Trinidad.
Some of the countless were present Sunday, July 2 at St Finbar’s RC Church, Diego Martin for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of his ordination to show their gratitude and to give thanks.
“He has left an indelible mark on the hearts and souls of countless people”, said Debra Ann Scott, who has worked with him for 28 years, 17 of them as parish coordinator and confidential secretary.
Delivering a tribute after the Mass she gave an overview of the four parishes he served and achievements at St Finbar’s where he spent 18 years. “Through his sermons and pastoral care, he became a trusted confident and pillar of strength, helping individuals navigate the complexities of life, offering words of comfort, guidance and encouragement, resulting in vibrant faith communities that continues to thrive,” Scott said.
She asked for the Lord to bless him for the profound impact he continues to have on those whose lives he touched. His ministry went beyond church walls. Scott said, “We offer our deepest gratitude and admiration to Fr Tom”.
Scott, Ken Charles and Felix Edinborough gave tributes to Fr Lawson following Mass. In attendance were Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Santiago de Wit Guzmán, Secretary and Deputy Head of Mission Fr Luciano Labanca and Archbishop Emeritus Robert Rivas OP, who studied in Ireland with Fr Lawson. Head of the Northern Vicariate Fr Christopher Lumsden was also present.
Delivering the homily, Fr Lawson said the voice of God can be heard during one’s prayer life and “it does not have to be dramatic”. The presence of God in one’s life, church and priesthood is something to be close to “because God is talking to us, we need to hear”, he told the congregation.
He said: “What do we value? Do we value our faith? Do we value our worshipping community? Do we value the Eucharist? That is a sign of intelligence, of knowledge and it is deep within each and every one of us.” He was grateful to hear the expressions from persons who had a “deep experience in some form or fashion” in the parishes he served.
A papal blessing was presented by Archbishop de Wit Guzmán after a congratulatory message. Archbishop Emeritus Rivas shared anecdotes about Fr Tom joking that in his 42 years he learned to eat a mango and lick the juice from his wrist.
He said, “the gift of your priesthood is absolutely awesome,” reading from a congratulatory card made for the occasion. Upon request from Fr Tom for an Irish song, Archbishop Rivas sang the Irish ballad ‘Danny Boy’.
Fr Urban Hudlin OP read a message from Fr John Harris OP, Prior Provincial. “Fr Tom celebrates 50 years of loyal and true service to the Church as a priest who always cares for his people.”
As thanks is offered for the blessing of Fr Tom’s golden anniversary, Fr Harris asked for all to redouble their prayers for vocations and the Dominican way of life in the Archdiocese.
“A vocation to the priesthood is a supernatural calling. None of us who are priests believe it was our own ideas…since it isn’t a natural decision, but an outpouring of grace into our hearts and minds, therefore it comes only as the fruit of our prayers and penance.” Fr Lawson’s golden jubilee was dedicated to praying for vocations. —LPG