On Sunday, August 20, La Veronica RC Church, Lopinot, celebrated its 75th anniversary.
In the early 1940s, the Lopinot settlers were displaced from their homes in the La Veronica Caura Village, for the construction of a dam by the government. This left the villagers traumatised because they had to leave what they knew as home.
For the villagers, life was centred on the RC Church. It played a crucial role in the spiritual development of the people who were deeply religious and God-fearing.
The La Veronica RC Church was a sacred structure and a symbol of hope for the villagers. Items were salvaged after the demolition of the church and were later used to help build a church in Lopinot in 1948.
Persons felt the church should be similar to the one at Caura, hence the use of the two pillars at the front entrance of La Veronica. This Church is still in existence, with the tweaks and upgrades, going 75 years strong and counting.
To celebrate their milestone, a special Mass was held. The celebrants in attendance were Archbishop Emeritus Robert Rivas OP and Parish Priest Fr Gregory Mc Lawrence CSSp.
Mass was done in its respective order with one difference, every song was sung in Spanish which might have been a first for many.
In his homily, Archbishop Rivas spoke about his experience growing up in La Veronica RC Church (see excerpt).
Meditation was followed by a number of parishioners depicting the history of and showing appreciation for the La Veronica RC Church.
This section of the celebration started off with a vote of thanks to the celebrants and to everyone who attended. It then went on to a narration together with a display, showing and telling the history of the villagers who were there from the beginning.
This was then followed by a marvellous poem, which portrayed the evolution and strength of the church. When all was said and done, tokens of appreciation were given out to persons like Hildred Guerrero, who have served and cared for the church for a number of years.
Following the conclusion of Mass was a procession around the near-by neighbourhood and back to the church. A sharing of eats and drinks amongst the parishioners and some lovely entertainment by a Parang group ended the celebration.
— A parishioner
Excerpts from Archbishop Rivas’ homily
My dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
I am older than this church and this church is older than my brother Joseph who will be 75 years of age next month (September). This is the Church were my six siblings and I were brought up in the faith. This is the church where I was confirmed and where I heard my early call to the priesthood.
This is the church of Aunty Din Din, Uncle Peter, Teacher Ben, Teacher Ludi, the church of Julie, Mr José, Eureka, Bernadette, Putty (Putalco) and countless others who found within these walls their spiritual nourishment and the support for living their Catholic faith.
This, with the Shrine at La Pastora of La Divina Pastora, were the symbols of our Catholic identity.
This little church is an awesome house of prayer where God is present and where we have access to God. It continues to be a landmark in the community that is now well established and developed.
No longer, when we don’t like something, do we refer to the people from the Settlement as “them Caura people!” The tapia and wooden houses are gone. The out houses are gone. The settlement has become a prosperous place and an integrated part of this beautiful and lush valley.
There are no more ghost stories. Electricity has scared the douens and the soucouyants! The river has become a place of recreation for Trinis from all over the country. Parang, with Sotero Gomez, papa Goon, Mr Johnny, Martin Gomez, and the Guerrero singing clan, has put Lopinot on the map. Here, family ties are strong.
With all its evolution and progress as a community, the little village church, with its roots planted deep in faith and Catholic tradition, continues to be a focal point of reference, grace, and place of assembly for the community.
In this church, St Veronica has held up the holy face of Christ for us to see from generation to generation for 75 years and will continue to do so, for she is, for us in this community, a symbol of a woman of great faith; the kind of faith that Jesus acknowledged in the Gospel today in the story of the Canaanite woman.
… When everyone was looking on at the spectacle of Jesus carrying His cross to Calvary, Veronica, seeing His blood-stained face of suffering broke all protocol and boundaries and, approaching Him, offered Him her veil to wipe His face.
Tradition tells the story that His features remained on her veil. Veronica, bold and courageous, teaches us by example, the power of faith and the virtues of tenderness and compassion.
In this community and in this valley, Veronica is our saint, our patron, and she keeps the faith strong and alive among us by showing us the face of Christ who gave His life for us.
…Today we have reached a milestone on our journey of faith from Caura to Lopinot. We have been blessed and our Catholic faith, now lived in a spirit of ecumenism, must continue to be our lifeline and a defining factor in the life, development, and progress of this community.
In the final analysis we need to be proud of our Catholic heritage and who we are. We also need to know what we have, appreciate one another and be grateful for our blessings.
May St Veronica light the way and continue to show us the face of Jesus so that we, too, may have GREAT FAITH.
St Veronica, pray for us.