Thursday July 20th: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden.”
July 20, 2023
JESUS EXPLOSION – My First Experience
July 20, 2023

A reminder of our mission and challenge

Q: Archbishop J, could you summarise your pastoral letter?

Building Community, Inclusivity, and Dialogue: A Pastoral Letter Summary


Building a harmonious community based on inclusivity and dialogue is a task that requires God’s intervention.

Despite our best efforts, the world is plagued by strife, division, and fractured relationships. We must recognise that our attempts to build community without God have often resulted in alienation and isolation. The story of Babel exemplifies this fracturing of humanity in the people’s attempt to build a community without God.

In contrast, the birth of the Church at Pentecost showcased the work of God and the Holy Spirit in unifying people from different backgrounds. Communion and unity cannot exist without the Holy Spirit.


The Church, in its essence, is a sign and instrument of communion with God, and unity among all people. The term ‘communion’ comes from the Latin word communio and the Greek word koinonia, both signifying participation in a common reality and sharing common goods.

In a Christian context, communion is primarily a theological concept where individuals participate in the life of Christ through the Holy Spirit. Christian community is participation in the life of Christ and union with one another through the Holy Spirit.

The T&T Church

In Trinidad and Tobago, we face the challenge of divisions and a lack of respect for one another. Disrespect has permeated our society, from talk-shows and political arenas to families and workplaces. This wound of disrespect fractures our sense of community and hinders inclusivity and love.

The Synod on Synodality emphasises the need to welcome all people into the Church, making room for their diversity and ensuring that everyone feels at home. This requires a willingness to die to self and find oneself through relationships with Christ and our neighbours.

The Church as God’s Family

The communion of the Church reflects the communion within the Trinity. Just as the Trinity exemplifies an interpersonal exchange of love, the Church should embody relationships expressed through a dialogue of love.

Love binds us together. When genuine love forms the atmosphere in which we interact, we can listen to others with empathy and foster deeper communion. This communion must embrace all people, irrespective of their background, orientation, or beliefs.

Becoming what you are

Through Baptism, we become children of God and are grafted into Christ’s body. Baptism places an indelible mark on our souls, signifying our identity as children of God. But we must strive to live as God intends us to live, loving one another as Christ has loved us.

Love must be our logic, our reason for living, and our motivation in all things. By becoming who we are, children of God, we can build and exemplify communities of inclusivity and dialogue.

Dialogue: The new way to be Church

In the early Church, preserving unity was a challenge, but they understood the importance of dialogue. Dialogue involves deep listening, both to the Holy Spirit and to the person speaking. It is a holy act that validates the dignity of the other person.

Dialogue allows for conflict resolution, transformation, and the emergence of a better future. By engaging in dialogue, we can transform our communities and build a Church that embraces inclusivity and fosters unity.

Catholic DNA

DNA gives us specificity – hair colour, body type, height, the colour of our eyes, health risks, et cetera. I want us to imagine a Catholic DNA that is the basic building block of Catholic life, found wherever Catholic life is flourishing.

This DNA is received by every Catholic at Baptism and is meant to shape their identity and guide their actions. Just like our physical DNA determines our physical traits, Catholic DNA influences who we are as Catholics.

To activate this Catholic DNA and create a strong and inclusive Catholic community, we must rebuild a Catholic culture which has three levels—Practices, Values, Beliefs.

  • Practices: We find four important practices or devotions in Acts 2:42: “[T]hey devoted themselves” to, the teaching of the Apostles, fostering fellowship and community, participating in the Eucharist (breaking of the bread), and engaging in prayer. These four practices are essential for building communion, both within the Church and with others, especially those who are marginalised. These four need to be reactivated in all parts of Catholic life.
  • Values: Pope Paul VI says: “Integral human development is the vocation of the Church”. It means striving to become the best version of ourselves in body, mind, heart, and spirit. This growth mindset encourages personal and spiritual growth, as well as helping others in their journey of growth to become the best they can be in all areas of their lives.
  • Beliefs: The call to development is tied to the deepest level of catholicity – our belief. We believe in a God who created and redeemed us through His Son, Jesus Christ, and calls each one of us in a unique way (Eph 4:1–16). All of us are called by God to grow and develop in various spheres of human life and to work for the development of all people. This is the deepest ground of inclusivity. This belief is the foundation for inclusivity and community-building.

These practices, values and beliefs are tied together and are inseparable. Together, they work to transform each Catholic, family, group, school, parish, and the whole Church.

Where do we begin?

The family is seen as the primary community where these practices, values and beliefs are learned and lived out. By transforming families into domestic Churches, where faith is nurtured and lived, the entire Church community can be transformed.

The Catholic Church includes not only parishes but also religious and ecclesial communities, schools, and movements. Each of these parts has a role to play in building community, inclusivity, and dialogue.

As Catholics, we are called to reach out to the poor, vulnerable, and forgotten, and to protect the environment. Our mission is to help those in need and care for our common home, the Earth.

In conclusion

Building a community of inclusivity and dialogue is a work that requires God’s intervention. As children of God, we are called to love one another as Christ has loved us.

Dialogue becomes the new way to be Church, enabling us to transform our communities and foster a future characterised by inclusivity and unity. By engaging in dialogue, listening deeply, and embracing the logic of love, we can build communities where all individuals find their rightful place.

Let us seek God’s Holy Spirit and cooperate with His work to create communities of inclusivity and dialogue.

To achieve this, we need to reignite the Catholic DNA which refers to the practices, values and beliefs that make up Catholic life. By embracing the four devotions, promoting integral human development, rooting it all in the belief of a God who calls each one in a unique way we will experience renewal in the Church. We begin by focusing on the family as the domestic Church: the starting point to build inclusive communities and fulfil our mission as Catholics.