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Caribbean Church in Review

As the year 2019 comes to an end, Catholic News recaps some of the news highlights from the wider Caribbean Church.

Church-State affairs

  • Mental illness is one of the saddest and most distressing illnesses affecting about one in every four persons in Guyana. Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB hoped this “disturbing information” perturbs all as this would remain with him until he hears that the numbers have changed significantly in favour of good health and well-being of the people of Guyana.
  • In June the Minister of Finance and Public Service in Jamaica called on the Church to continue playing a critical role in shaping the nation’s society, especially at a time when the middle class is retreating from politics.
  • Archbishop Robert Rivas OP of Castries, St Lucia expressed concern about suicides in the Archdiocese and would see how the Church can contribute in helping people to veer away from taking their own lives.
  • Archbishop Robert Rivas OP has come out in support of the abolition of corporal punishment in schools in St Lucia. He had consulted the Church’s Education Director who was also very “happy” with the move.
  • Last July Republic Bank (Grenada) has responded positively to a request for assistance with a donation of EC$40,000 towards rebuilding efforts of the St Patrick’s RC Church, that was damaged almost 15 years ago after the passage of Hurricane Ivan.
  • Last July the Jamaica Council of Churches has expressed deep concern about the crime situation in the country and the level of brutality and brazenness to which it has descended. They called on Prime Minister Andrew Holness to initiate a process to bring together the Government, Opposition, private sector, church and civil society for a meaningful, non-partisan dialogue towards bringing the crime situation under control and to an acceptable level.
  • Archbishop Kenneth Richards of Kingston, Jamaica said that the Church does not advocate and accommodate means of procreation such as in vitro fertilisation, because what it does is make the process of procreation impersonal. He said ethically and morally, the Church is against the practice of surrogacy.
  • The bishops of Haiti launched a year of prayer in the face of a dire political situation. Haiti has been rocked by protests, some of them violent, as Haitians called for President Jovenel Moise to step down. He is accused of mismanagement and disappearance of the funds of PetroCaribe—funds earmarked for badly needed social programmes, to step down.
  • With Puerto Rico mired in US$72 billion debt crisis and struggling to recover from 2017 Hurricanes Irma and Maria, religious leaders, in a June statement continue to insist that their ability to resolve disaster and debt crises are hampered by their relationship with the United States.
  • Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB of Georgetown was among a contingent of Guyana faith leaders participating in a series of regional meetings under the PANCAP—Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS Justice for All Programme. They all agreed to incorporate HIV messages into their faith-based work and planned activities.
  • Archbishop Kenneth Richards believes it is unfortunate that there is need to convince some lawmakers to defend the beginning of human life. He said it is “incontestable” that all human life begins at the time of conception and takes form during the time of gestation in a mother’s womb.
  • Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau, Dominica reiterated a call for a peaceful general election December 6 amidst allegations of violence that plagued the election campaign.
  • The Justice and Peace Commission of the Diocese of Georgetown, Guyana, in a statement ahead of the country’s March 2, 2020 elections said that beginning December 21, 2018 until the present, the country has walked “the gauntlet”.

Ordinations and appointments

  • The newly appointed Vicar for Clergy in Guyana Fr John Persaud announced plans to visit clergy to find out what their own needs and concerns are, so that they can give the best of themselves in the best possible way in their ministry.
  • Fr Kirt David Prospere was ordained to the Presbyterate June 1 at the St Patrick’s RC Church, Barbados.
  • Guyana’s Vicar General Msgr Terrence Montrose was conferred the Cacique Crown of Honour by President David Granger at the Investiture 2019 Ceremony in May. Msgr Montrose joins several Catholic clergy and laity who have been officially recognised and honoured by the government and people of Guyana.
  • The clergy of the Diocese of Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines welcomed the addition to its numbers with the ordination of three permanent deacons—Deacons Ancel Felix Knights, Eardley Austin Martin and Eustace Emmanuel Francis last November.
  • The Vatican’s new envoy to Guyana, His Excellency Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu presented his Letters of Credence to His Excellency President David Granger November 6.
  • Nigeria-born Fr Gabriel Obi Osang was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Clyde Harvey of St George’s-in-Grenada September 14 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, St George’s.

Celebrations

  • The first-ever AEC Pontifical Mission Societies Mission Congress was held in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago from September 17 – 22. The theme was The Church of Christ on mission in the world.
  • Archbishop Patrick Pinder of Nassau celebrated his 15th anniversary of installation as Archbishop of Nassau, May 4.
  • The Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation, Malgre Tout in Guyana marked its 175th anniversary with a week of celebrations. A parishioner who did the welcome said that Malgre Tout means “in spite of all” and their community has continued to grow and remain strong over the years despite it all.
  • The indigenous community of Sawariwau celebrated a century of Catholicism with a blessing and commissioning of a newly built church followed by confirmation of 54 candidates from the villages.
  • As Barbados celebrated its 53rd anniversary of independence November 30, the Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Bridgetown, Archbishop Jason Gordon of Port of Spain reminded Barbadians to also remember the extraordinary people who selflessly built the island, as all have benefitted from their forefathers.
  • Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) Guyana celebrated its 50th anniversary last October. Guests speakers were Fr Ian Taylor and Deborah de Rosia from the Archdiocese of Port of Spain.
  • Jamaica-born Msgr George Bardowell celebrated his 90th birthday on October 1. ‘Fr George’ as he is affectionately called has been a long-serving priest in the Kingstown diocese for over two decades.
  • Diocesan monthly The Christian Herald celebrated the 40th anniversary of the publication of its first issue last September (September 1979).

Destruction/Vandalism

  • Archbishop Patrick Pinder of Nassau celebrated Mass at the St Francis Xavier Cathedral, Nassau on New Providence Island for evacuee families and Catholic school staff members a week after Hurricane Dorian slammed into the islands, September 1.
  • Buildings of the Catholic Church in Guyana were burgled three times in six months. The Our Lady of Fatima presbytery which houses the parish offices, the priest’s office, parish hall and Religious Education Department of the diocese were ransacked, and several items stolen.

Scandals

  • Belize-based Fr Oliver Smalls Jr has begun to pursue vindication over allegations which came to light in February that he sexually assaulted a minor in Richmond, Virginia, USA in 1970. Fr Smalls has been removed from ministry in Belize following the appearance of his name on a published list of priests who have been accused of sexual abuse of minors.
  • The President of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau has maintained the view that he is not “fully convinced” that allowing priests to wed would “curtail” the scourge of sexual abuse in the Church. He believed that the scandal is a “fraction” of what is happening in society.
  • Archbishop Kenneth Richards of Kingston responded to a Jamaica Observer article of a then 17-year-old who alleged she was raped by then seminarian Fr Paul Collier who continued to abuse her when he became a priest in her native Jamaica. The Archbishop said with disclosures of wrongdoing by clergy, come false allegations, unfounded suspicion and gossip which can weaken effective ministry and cause irreparable personal harm.
  • AEC President Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau joined the assembly of 190 Presidents of Episcopal conferences, Superiors General and the Holy Father on the issue of The Protection of Minors in the Church held in Rome from February 21–24. In his report, the bishop identified the three main areas on which the Church needs to exercise: Responsibility, Accountability and Transparency.
  • In an effort to increase knowledge about child sexual abuse which has rocked the Catholic Church, Bishop Wesley Spiewak of the Diocese of Hamilton, Bermuda has made it mandatory for anyone who works with young people—priests, teachers and others involved with children to participate in a child abuse prevention training session.
  • In June St Lucia’s Vicar General Msgr Michel Francis maintained that based on the articles of the Criminal Code of St Lucia (2004) which deals with disturbing a Minister of Religion during services, Fr Albert Smith was within his rights to admonish persons who were irreverent during a funeral service, as seen in a viral video on social media.

Developments

  • The Diocese of Roseau opened its ‘one of a kind’ Catholic Youth Centre in March. The centre which provides a safe, value-based environment for young people around Dominica took 20 years from conception to the official opening ceremony of Phase 1.
  • The new and comprehensive website of the Diocese of Belize City and Belmopan (www.catholic.bz) is now live to the public. The site was launched earlier in March after months of development.
  • Bishop Gerard County CSSp of Kingstown proposed ‘I Care Trust Fund’, an initiative aimed at supporting priests. The bishop said that the sudden illness of two priests had awakened the diocese’s attention to the fact that there was no structure in place for the care of priests, especially for sick and retired diocesan priests.
  • Many public schools in Grand Bahama remain closed some five weeks after Hurricane Dorian’s landfall in September, however Mary, Star of the Sea Catholic Academy was back in session with a new daily schedule and newly refurbished spaces.

Deaths

  • Msgr Preston Moss died March 11 following ongoing treatment for stomach cancer. He was 79. He was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 25, serving more than 38 years as Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Nassau, Bahamas, and ministering as a priest in The Bahamas for more than 50 years.
  • Diocesan priest Fr Keith Hardless died while receiving medical attention March 14. He was 75. Fr Keith was ordained a priest in April 1971 in the UK and came to Guyana five months later in September. He spent all his life as a priest at Our Lady of the Mount parish and served in Guyana for almost 48 years.
  • The Funeral Mass for Bishop Emeritus Ernest Cabo of the Diocese of Basse-Terre and Pointe-a-Pitre took place December 5. Bishop Cabo, 86, passed away peacefully at a nursing home on November 28.
  • The Funeral Mass for Lady Abbess Mother Marianna Pinto OSB took place October 30 on the grounds of the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Mount of Prayer, Coubaril, St Lucia. Internment was in the Monastic Cemetery at the abbey. Mother Abbess died October 3 in Martinique. —KJ

Article taken from the Catholic News TT

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