The Face of A Listening Church is a “landmark achievement” for Archbishop Emeritus Robert Rivas OP and also the Antilles Episcopal Conference to have a publication by one of its bishops accepted for distribution at the Synod of Bishops in Rome October 4 – 29.
“It is the only one, not before, not after, there will be a book like this ready and accessible to members of the synod in the last assembly,” said Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Santiago de Wit Guzmán at the book’s launch on Wednesday, November 29 at the St Dominic’s Pastoral Centre, Diego Martin.
“For that, we congratulate Archbishop Rivas,” he stated as the audience applauded.
Archbishop de Wit Guzmán is pleased and proud of the book.
He also revealed feeling incredibly surprised. “The book has become a very precious work and of course, a very useful and interesting and helpful tool for anyone who wants to understand the time we are living in the Church right now.”
The forward in the book was penned by Cardinal Mario Grech, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops. He called it “original”.
Archbishop de Wit Guzmán said, “I agree…this is a creative, reflective, inspired, and important contribution to the process of synodality. To see the face of a listening pope is to see the face of a listening church.”
Referring to when Archbishop Rivas presented the book to Pope Francis at an audience on November 18 and its accessibility to synod participants, Archbishop de Wit Guzmán said it can now be in the hands of the public. He urged them to give full support.
In his talk, Archbishop Rivas said the Church was part of his family life growing up and has become part of his life forever. He told attendees “When you read Face of a Listening Church, joy bounces off the pages because it’s real stuff, it’s reflective stuff, it’s pondered stuff; it’s stuff like the wise owl I have chewed on…” The book, which took two years to write, is divided into four sections comprising the English, French, Italian and Spanish translations.
Archbishop Rivas thanked God for inspiration and giving him health and determination to pursue “what came as it came, in different phases along the road in the development of this book”.
An idea or thought can happen at any time. “I pursue it and I stay with it and next day I may develop it or replay it or make it a book. The thing is, it starts somewhere. The little seed is planted,” he said.
Archbishop Rivas said when ideas are given time, they blossom and become rich. He believes that whatever is happening to him now as a writer, poet, and composer “is all God’s work”.
As an “old man” who should be “put aside” to take it easy until the end, Archbishop Rivas feels energised daily. “For something more, for something new and I’ve always been like this as a priest, and I am grateful to God for it, and I pray for the grace to continue”.
The book launch was postponed after Archbishop Rivas had a fall early November while on vacation in Tralee, Ireland. He ended up in the Cardiac Care Unit of the hospital. He told of his first “near death experience in 1995” relating that he told God that his time was over, and he was prepared to live God’s time. “His time is really precious time. I want you to find that time and listen to what the Spirit is saying to your heart,” he advised.
Also speaking at the launch was Professor Emeritus Clement Imbert, a former Holy Cross College schoolmate of Archbishop Rivas.
Entertainment was provided by the Guerrero Sisters and Felix Edinborough was the emcee. Archbishop Rivas’ other book How Beautiful the Valley was also available.