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Thank you, Sr Roberta for your selfless service

Sr Roberta O’Flaherty, a Religious Sister of the Holy Faith Congregation, is preparing to return to the land of her birth, Ireland, at the end of this month, after 52 years of dedicated service in T&T, in different capacities.

Pope Francis has rightly asked: “What would the Church be without Religious Sisters and consecrated laywomen?” Indeed, what would society be without them?

Each of us is born into this world with gifts given to us by our Creator. We have a choice – either we hide these gifts under a bushel and live mediocre lives, or we use them to serve humanity.

It was Mahatma Gandhi who said: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Sr Roberta chooses to serve. Selfless service is her hallmark.

As the days before her departure draw near, it is only fitting that we express our gratitude to her.

Sr Roberta arrived from Ireland October 1971 to join other Holy Faith Sisters. From the time she arrived, she was involved in the education sector. For several years, she was principal and taught at St Catherine’s Preparatory School, Sangre Grande; St Monica’s in Port of Spain; and Our Lady of Loreto, Secondary School, Pembroke Street.

She then served at Servol for 13 years as coordinator and teacher trainer at the Regional Training & Resource Centre. During that time, she also supervised trainee early childhood educators throughout the island, and other Caribbean countries.

Sr Roberta is a Founding Member and Executive Director of Credo Foundation for Justice (CFJ). It  was established in 1996 and of which I am a Board Member.

The goal of Credo Residential Development Centres is to protect boys and girls 10-18 years, and to reduce the number of those who are socially displaced and abused by providing places of safety with developmental and remedial opportunities, while also empowering families and creating awareness of social injustices against children (

Over the years, magistrates have been sending children from various parts of Trinidad and Tobago to CFJ’s centres via the Children’s Authority and Children’s Court.

Overall, the residents at the centres reflect the nation’s diversity, in terms of religion, status and ethnicity. The centres are:

  1. Credo Centre, Nelson Street – opened in 1997
  2. Sophia House, 2-4 Park Street – opened in 2004
  3. Aylward House (2000) and Ruah (2010) were two transitional centres for boys and girls preparing for independent living. Unfortunately, they had to be closed in 2017 due to lack of funding.

Over the years Sr Roberta and her team have, at times with great difficulty, catered for the mental, physical, social, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual needs of children and their families, from various parts of the country.

Sr Roberta possesses excellent leadership skills. Inter alia, she has high expectations of her staff, engages them in ongoing training, and has the ability to motivate them to work towards achieving CFJ’s goal of giving children a second chance for a happy and productive life.

She has a deep love for the children in her care; empathises with them and does not shut the door on them when they leave at 18. She and the CFJ team have measures in place to prepare the children for life in the outside world and in “tracking” those who leave, so that they can keep in touch with them and assist, where necessary.

It is because of Sr Roberta’s commitment to strengthen family life, that she and her team continue to work tirelessly to reconcile many of the children with their families.

In the early years, Sr Roberta and helpers used to walk the streets inviting socially displaced children to visit the centres for a change of clothing, to have a shower, and to enjoy a meal. Many of these children remained at the Centre. She is fearless and visits/works in so-called hotspots where many fear to go.

Sr Roberta also served for about 21 years as a Board Member of the Catholic Commission for Social Justice and as a member of St Theresa’s Social Justice Group, Woodbrook.

In June 2007, she received the Port of Spain Corporation City Day Award for her contribution in the field of Community Service. I pay tribute to this tireless worker in the Lord’s vineyard.

Thank you, Sr Roberta, for your love of our people and for the lasting legacy you have left us. Like Sr Roberta, let’s never tire of working for a more just world in which children can flourish.

By Leela Ramdeen
Consultant, CCSJ & Director, CREDI