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Santa Rosa, beacon of leadership and communion

There was a good turnout of Arima Catholics on Sunday, August 27 for the annual Santa Rosa Festival.

Msgr Christian Pereira, a former parish priest, was the chief celebrant at the Mass which preceded the procession through the street of the eastern borough.

Fr Andrew Emenike concelebrated the Mass, with Deacon Joachim Hernandez assisting.

Msgr Pereira underscored the historical context, highlighting that the local authorities had brought together the descendants of the First Peoples from various areas like Tacarigua, St Joseph, and Tunapuna to form the community and share in its faith.

This historical connection between the Church and the First Peoples, though not without its challenges, remains a poignant reminder of unity and faith.

Msgr Pereira then shifted the focus towards the gospel reading (Mt 16:13–20), extracting lessons about leadership.

He explained that leadership wasn’t solely the responsibility of the Pope or political leaders, but a duty shared by everyone. He used the biblical location of Caesarea Philippi as a metaphorical space where individuals discover their leadership roles.

The homily delved into the questions Jesus posed to His apostles, showing the importance of knowing what people are saying, understanding the essence of their words, and ultimately grasping the truth.

Msgr Pereira explained, “Jesus asked a very important question. ‘Are you fellas really listening to what people are saying? Are you fellas just hooked up with me and ignoring the people around you?’ It is not just about listening to the gossip and there was no TikTok or X or Twitter in those days. So, the 12 fellas had to be grounded, had to be in communion with, had to be in touch with what the people were saying.”

He emphasised as well, the significance of having a deep understanding of oneself and of Christ, akin to Peter’s acknowledgment that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Such knowledge, he explained, comes not from mere hearsay but from a profound connection with Jesus.

Msgr Pereira went on to discuss the symbolism of handing over the keys, a gesture often associated with Peter’s role as the first Pope. However, he broadened the interpretation to suggest that all individuals who truly understand Christ and their fellow human beings are capable of sharing authority.

He expressed concern about the reluctance in today’s world to share authority, a phenomenon he saw as detrimental to leadership at all levels of society.

“That is why the world is so devoid of leaders at all levels of society because we hold it onto ourselves that ‘I alone know and I alone understand, so I alone can make the decision’. And that truly is one of the big struggles in our world today.”

The homily also touched on the concept of a synodal church, promoting the idea of communal decision-making and shared authority. “While democracy is not a full part of our Catholic reality,” he said, “the commitment to becoming a synodal church challenges us to learn how to share our authority with one another.”

Msgr Pereira stressed that authority should not be wielded as a personal possession but should be used to foster respect and build communion, “not a top-down relationship but a communion, a synodal reality”.

St Rose of Lima was highlighted as a beacon of leadership and communion. Her life of service and dedication to God’s people exemplified the qualities of a true leader who listened, pondered, and shared authority.

“Her entire life was about listening to God and listening and responding to the needs of the people. She lived her life faithfully as a child of God, as a servant of God, as a virgin so that she can be in communion with all God’s people.” Msgr Pereira encouraged the congregation to emulate her example in their daily lives, by listening to one another, reflecting deeply, and sharing authority.

The procession with the statue of St Rose of Lima followed the liturgy. Among those participating were Arima’s Member of Parliament Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, Mayor Cagney Casimire, members of the Santa Rosa First Peoples, led by Chief Ricardo Bharath-Hernandez, other dignitaries and invited guests, and parishioners. The day ended with Benediction.