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‘Choose logic of Christ not the world’s’

Fr d’Hereaux at Mass for Gonzales murder victims

“Feel the feelings, know your feelings, know what you are experiencing inside but always know that we operate by a different logic…We operate in a different way,” Fr Matthew d’Hereaux said as he delivered the homily at the Mass and Liturgy for Lamentation on Wednesday, June 5 for the Gonzales community after the murder of four men.

The shooting began close to the St Jerome AC school and Gonzales Sheikers Steel Orchestra Sports and Cultural Club on the evening of Sunday, June 2 after a football game on the school grounds where the community had gathered to watch.

Five persons were taken to Port of Spain General Hospital (PoSGH) for treatment. Two were pronounced dead on arrival. While receiving treatment several armed masked men who had followed the ambulance continued the shooting, killing one. Three people are warded in stable condition.

The names of the murder victims, Jayden Reyes, 21, Jonathon Arjoon, 28, Peter Williams, 31, and Kevin King, 33, were mentioned during the Mass for the repose of their souls, for the bereaved, and for peace in Port of Spain. It was attended by about 60 people including the family of the victims and Justin Constantine who was injured and seen walking with a stick for support.

Parish priest for the Rosary/Gonzales cluster Fr d’Hereaux said of the community being together, “we believe all we go through in life is a journey and we have to walk it, but we do not walk it alone”.

He spoke of the anger and pain which people would be feeling. “How are we to cope with this anger? One logic would say ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’, and son for a son. One logic would say that a friend for a friend, a man for a man…” Fr d’Hereaux said.

Getting revenge will be the logic of the world but there is a different logic for the people of God. He said: “Can we reach out and say there must be another way, Trinidad and Tobago? There must be an alternative way to live as a community; there must be an alternative way to cope with anger, to cope with hurt, to cope with pain. How we gonna process it, this anger …with the logic of the world or the logic of Christ?”

Fr d’Hereaux said there were heroes of the Catholic faith and civilisation who chose to live a different way. One example is the late South Africa President and anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela who after 27 years imprisonment did not “turn South African into a blood bath”.

Fr d’Hereaux told the congregation, “There is always a different way and that is a power you have in your heart, you have in your minds, you have in your souls.”

He stressed the power in saying, “I don’t have to go down a particular road, there is a choice. I have a choice and that is hope, and that is faith and that is love.” He empathised with their grief stating that healing will take time but assured it “is not impossible”.

Fr d’Hereaux asked the congregation to write down their feelings on a piece of paper. These were placed into a basket to be incinerated later. The congregation also prayed together in pairs.

Naming the pain

On the action of writing down their feelings, Vicar for Communications Fr Robert Christo said: “Naming, speaking out loud, owning and writing down one’s feelings can be extremely therapeutic, life-giving, and transformative. I truly believe that it is in exposing them [feelings], they become illuminated and when they are illuminated, they turn into light rather than anger, heat, revenge, or the vicious cycle of violence, internal and external.”

He explained that “Catholic theology makes it clear that it’s not what we feel but what we choose to do with our feelings that matters: in themselves feelings are neither good nor evil. They are morally qualified only to the extent that they effectively engage reason and will.”

People need to be conscious of and listen to their feelings as they can provide vital information about the self. “What we are at present and who we are becoming. They are a compass, a tool to help us navigate the world around us” Fr Christo said.

Austrian Neurologist Sigmund Freud has said “feelings buried alive [suppressed /ignored] will come forth later in uglier ways”. Fr Christo said this means “that when people don’t express their emotions, they can become closed off to self, and others’ goodwill and pain, which can lead to serious negative consequences.”


Family and community grief

Ancil Reyes, the father of Jayden Reyes, the youngest of four men from Gonzales who were murdered, is prayerful as he and his wife Alicia try to cope with the shooting attack which has left Jayden’s older brother Jassani, 26 years hospitalised. He was shot at the PoSGH.

“I just have to say a prayer and keep him [Jassani] alive, and we hope for the best when he recovers, he comes out normal. Other than that, we just have to try and stick together,” Reyes said after attending the Mass and Liturgy of Lamentation.

He said the day of the shooting was “normal, community gathering, football sweat Sunday evening, nothing new. This was a real, real tragedy…it erupted, too far”.

Kenneth Dopwell, a neighbour recalled seeing Jayden, “when he was coming out of his home to go and take his sweat, not knowing that was the last time I would see him.”

Councillor for St Ann’s River North Alicia Gift said: “We just hope we never have to experience this again as much as the family that are directly affected the community is affected because we have lost four vibrant young men, some of them would have been making a significant contribution, Jayden Reyes to be exact, a young and up-and-coming doctor to be”.

She said the community was robbed of a gem because he would have been a perfect role model for youths. Gift said “sad”, and “unfortunate” were the best words she could use because there were really no words for what happened.