The 36th annual conference of the Diocesan Clergy of the Province of Castries finally took place after a two-year delay due to COVID-19, in the Diocese of St. John’s-Basseterre. This was due to the determined efforts of Fr. George Williams and his coordinating team. There were representatives from all the five dioceses except the Diocese of St. George’s-in-Grenada who experienced problems with cancelled flights.
On Tuesday 17 May 2022, the Vicar General, Fr. Pierre gave a summary of the Synod on Synodality in the Diocese of St. John’s-Basseterre. He indicated the successes as well as the challenges which that process posed for the Diocese, one of which was the fact that the Diocese of St. John’s-Basseterre comprises other family islands.
Bishop Robert Llanos, Bishop of St. John’s-Basseterre, welcomed all to the conference and to his diocese and shared some thoughts on the role of the clergy as shepherds of souls using the text of St. John’s Gospel (21:15-19) in which Jesus asked John three times “Do you love me?”He emphasized that it is the commitment to love Jesus unconditionally which makes us worthy shepherds, able to face the challenges which accompanies this mission.
Bishop Llanos also placed before the Association a request to have a workshop with the members of the Association with the Family and Life Commission of the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC) for three days at our next conference to deal with a number of issues facing family life today. A decision was taken to have the next conference in the Archdiocese of Castries in 2023. A team was appointed with representation from the five dioceses to work with Bishop Llanos.
The afternoon session was spent listening to the stories of how the clergy were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This was a very moving experience as the clergy present shared very deeply and personally about the impact which COVID on their personal lives.
From Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 May, the clergy reflected on a number of issues including vocations, clergy retirement and what provisions ought to be put in place for their retirement, the way forward for the Association for the next ten to twenty years and the need to put a strategic plan in place for the future. The highlight of Wednesday was the ordination to the priesthood of a missionary from Togo, Fr. Jean Paul Sade. The clergy celebrated a con-celebrated Mass with the parishioners of Holy Family Cathedral on Thursday evening (19 May).
The election of a new executive was supposed to have taken place but since there were not sufficient members from each of the five dioceses of the Province, it was decided that the coordinating team working with Bishop Llanos for the next conference should act as an interim executive and election of a new executive will take place in 2023.
They thank everyone for their prayerful support while they were away from their parishes to attend our conference.
Shared by Msgr. Michel Francis (Out-going President)