While COVID-19 has been the story of the year, there were other top stories coming out from the wider Catholic Church in the Caribbean.
Here are some notable stories from the past 12 months:
CHURCH’S RESPONSE TO COVID-19
- As Caribbean nations continued to wrestle with the rapid spread of the coronavirus, President of the Antilles Episcopal Conference, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau, Dominica in a March statement said we need to care for each other and resist the temptation to address this problem in isolation.
- Bishop Clyde Harvey of St George’s-in-Grenada has spoken out against citizens who seemed intent on celebrating Grenada’s Carnival as usual. He said the decision not to have Carnival this year was “obvious” and not a “sinister plot” but sensible, responsible behaviour amidst the current pandemic.
- In his COVID-19 message to the people of The Bahamas, Archbishop Patrick Pinder of Nassau said while lockdowns and curfews are inconvenient and possibly even an imposition, these are for the good and safety of the nation.
- Fr Brancker John, a former Calypso king in Dominica has sounded “the warning” in a Calypso on COVID-19 ‘Watch out for the virus’ where he encouraged listeners to practise good hygiene, keep everything clean, mind the droplets in the air and socially distance.
- Archbishop Patrick Pinder of Nassau said while being confined is not easy, history offers examples of those who used confinement very positively. A prime example, the Archbishop cited, was South African icon Nelson Mandela.
- A workshop on Virtus’ Protecting God’s Children programme was conducted for participants and clergy of St George’s in March in an effort to establish protocols that will help to ensure that the children of Grenada grow and thrive in safety in all churches, schools and institutions.
- Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau has said that everyone, including the Government of Dominica must contribute towards the renovation of the Diocese’s 170-year-old national monument—the Our Lady of Fair Haven Cathedral in Roseau.
- Following the possible death sentencing of Rodman Lewis, who was found guilty of murder, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau reiterated that capital punishment goes against the teaching of the Church. Life imprisonment, he said, should be used as an alternative to the death penalty as it is a greater punishment to keep someone alive rather than to kill him or her.
- As the world observed International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, November 25, Bishop Clyde Harvey of St George’s-in-Grenada has called for a deeper emphasis in families, the education system and government, on working with males on the issue of handling situations without the use of violence.
- Bishop Clyde Harvey of St George’s-in-Grenada has said that he feels “sad” on the continued industrial dispute between the government and teachers over gratuity payments due to them since 2013.
- The Inter-Religious Organization (IRO) of Guyana and the Guyana Council of Churches in a joint statement say they have noted with “grave concern” the deteriorating political climate in Guyana in the aftermath of the March 2 General and Regional Elections.
- The first-ever Catholic church to be built in Havana since the revolution is now in its final phase. The church is only the second in the entire country to have been built on land granted by the state since the revolution of 1969.
- Bishop Clyde Harvey of St George’s-in-Grenada expressed solidarity with US citizens of African descent who are “deeply hurt” over the death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer last May.
- Besides the economic issues plaguing Cuba, Catholic priest Fr Jean Pichon believes that Cuba’s primary problem is the collapse of the traditional family. Fr Pichon commented that the communist ideology has fundamentally changed society.
ORDINATIONS, APPOINTMENTS AND RESIGNATIONS
- Trinidadian deacon Rev Collin Jackson was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines on August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration.
- India-born Deacon Francis Savarimuthu was ordained for a lifetime of service as a Diocesan priest for the Diocese of Georgetown, Guyana on his birthday, November 21 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Brickdam.
- Pope Francis appointed Guyana-born Bishop John Persaud the fourth bishop of Mandeville, Jamaica, on Friday, June 19. Due to the uncertainties of regional travel caused by the pandemic, he had to remain in Guyana until August 18 when a private aircraft took him to Jamaica. He episcopal ordination was Saturday, September 19.
- Seminarian Marcos Pacifico Rodriguez was ordained to the Transitional Diaconate in the Diocese of Belize City and Belmopan on June 13. Rev Rodriguez now begins his new ministry as deacon at Holy Redeemer Cathedral.
- AEC President Bishop Gabriel Malzaire of Roseau expressed heartfelt thanks to Dr Everard Johnston for the “sterling contribution” he made to the formation of the leaders in the region as professor at the Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs, Mt St Benedict, for the past 48 years.
- Archbishop Kenneth Richards of Kingston, Jamaica was bestowed with the national honour of Order of Distinction, Rank of Commander, for exceptional contribution to religion and community especially in youth empowerment training and education.
- Fr Ronnie Fernandes SJ, a Jesuit originally from India was appointed Vicar General of the Georgetown Diocese in August by Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB. He replaces Fr John Persaud who was appointed Bishop of Mandeville, Jamaica.
- Fr Peter McIsaac SJ took up his new role as Regional Superior of the Jesuits in Guyana and Jamaica, July 1.
- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the pastoral office of Bishop Emmanuel Lafont of the Diocese of Cayenne, French Guiana, who reached the canonical limit of 75 years of age to exercise the Episcopal Ministry.
VANDALISM AND SCANDALS
- Archbishop Robert Rivas OP of Castries has said that the perpetrator, a man “believed to be of unsound mind” behind the July 19 arson attack at the St Martin de Porres Church at Pierrot, Vieux Fort needs help.
- Catholic faithful at January’s Catholic Charismatic Renewal (CCR) 22nd Caribbean Conference were told that holding on to red lavender, asafetida, Katanga water, the sprinkling of things profane and things from our ancestors were not going to save them.
- Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB was assaulted and robbed of his episcopal ring and pectoral cross while presiding over Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, November 7.
- At least one person died and one Catholic church, Immaculate Conception Church in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, was destroyed by the latest in a series of earthquakes to rock Puerto Rico. The church survived the island’s major earthquake of 1918 only to be shaken apart by the January 7 temblor.
- Msgr Michael ‘Mike’ Stewart, Vicar General of the Diocese of Kingstown celebrated 35 years of priestly ministry July 21.
- Msgr Terrence Montrose celebrated 45 years a priest August 10. Msgr Montrose has served as Chancellor, Vicar General of the Georgetown Diocese and was conferred the Cacique Crown of Honour by President David Granger in 2019.
- Archbishop Robert Rivas OP of Castries marked his 30th anniversary of episcopal ordination with a Mass, January 26. Archbishop Rivas was appointed the first bishop of the Diocese of Kingstown January 22, 1990, the day Kingstown became a diocese of its own.
- Bishop Francis Alleyne OSB of Georgetown celebrated his 35th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood July 7. Bishop Alleyne was ordained bishop of that diocese since January 30, 2004.
- Brooklyn-born and retired diocesan priest of St Croix, US Virgin Islands, Msgr Michael Kosak celebrated his 50th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood in June with a special golden jubilee edition of his book Journey of a Homeboy reprinted.
- In September, the St Joseph Mercy Hospital (SJMH) held a special dedication ceremony and Mass to commemorate the hospital’s 75th anniversary and to recognise the Religious Sisters of Mercy (RSM) for their phenomenal contribution to the hospital.
- Bishop Dorick Wright, Belize’s eighth bishop and the second native Belizean to serve as Bishop of the Diocese of Belize City and Belmopan was laid to rest at the Holy Redeemer Cathedral’s garden April 22 after a long battle with diabetes.
- The sudden death of Fr Joachim Marian Demello SJ at his home in January triggered feelings of sadness and surprise in the local Catholic community of Georgetown as news spread of his death.
- The Archdiocese of Castries mourned the passing of senior deacon Rev Bertrand Clauzel, a permanent deacon for 46 years who, after a few months of illness died peacefully early on the morning of Wednesday October 21 at the age of 89.
- Fr William Bill O’Carroll, fondly remembered as the ‘Walking Priest’, who began walking to raise funds to help restore the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, St George’s-in-Grenada after it was seriously damaged by Hurricane Ivan in 2004 died in Ireland in May.