The Church's past in communications connected with its future as the Catholic News 'family' - its staff, distributors, sellers and associates - celebrated 116 years of publication, and a new era began with CAMSEL, the Catholic Media Services Limited.
Vicar for Administration Fr Jason Gordon was the main celebrant at last Sunday's concelebrated Mass.
Concelebrants were former editor (1991-2003) Fr Michel de Verteuil, CSSp; Seminary rector Msgr Michael de Verteuil; Fr Peter de la Bastide, CSSp, who for many years has been involved in radio; and Vicar for Communications and current Catholic News associate editor, Msgr Cuthbert Alexander.
Seated in the front pew at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was Information Minister Neil Parsanlal, who only returned to Trinidad from Guyana around midday that day.
Chairman of Printing Services Limited (PSL), Richard Young, also sat in a front pew, next to editor June Johnston. PSL, which is to be absorbed into CAMSEL, has been the registered company behind the Catholic News.
A few seats back sat president of the Media Association of Trinidad & Tobago, Joanne Briggs. Former president Dale Enoch was also there, along with other members of the local media fraternity. Curepe, Bourg Mulatresse and El Socorro parish choirs led the singing.
Preaching the homily, Msgr Alexander said, “We are all called to be instruments, witnesses of Christ. We are all reminded to go and be part of the Church's mission. We pray for the ability to reach the faithful, to continue contributing to the life of the Church through communications."
He began the homily noting that while the Church was celebrating World Communications Day that Sunday, the United Nations celebrated World Press Freedom Day the day before (May 3).
He said the Church faced challenges in communications as it tried to get its message across to not only the faithful but the wider society. He said it must strive for clarity.
"Our mission will guide us in communications. World Communications Day is therefore important and significant for the Church's mission. But knowing what our mission is does not mean we have fulfilled our mission."
|Editor June Johnston makes a presentation to Information Minister Neil Parsanlal
|Mary Pitman-Gilkes of Catholc News (advertising) presents Muriel Hazzard of Curepe Parish with a token of appreciation. Mrs Hazzard has sold Catholic News for over 20 years.
He said as the archdiocese looked at what it did in communication, it must pay attention to the culture, in particular new media, like the Internet.
He said as we pay attention to culture, we must also be "persistent" and present a "high quality in publication (print) and production (audio and video)".
Msgr Alexander also said the Church must continue to find common ground to work with the local media "for the good of the nation".
Business manager Lucille Nathu and Young both spoke towards the end of the Mass.
Young spoke about the genesis of CAMSEL, describing it as a logical step to consolidate resources so as to "ensure the word of God is delivered... in a consistent and concise manner".
He said there was some concern over what has to be done to make it work, but it will call for trust - in God, and in the process.
Ms Nathu said Catholic News was "a true success story of the Church" and those who have helped the paper voluntarily by selling in the parishes have been "invaluable". She said the circulation was currently 19,000 with a plan to reach 21,000 by December 2009. The marketing plan? "Simply - service and dedication", she said.
Ms Nathu also took the opportunity to remember those who contributed much to the papers distribution and who had passed away in recent times.
Sellers of the paper for more than 20 years were presented with a reprinted copy of Sr Marie Thérèse Retout's Parish Beat by Mrs Johnston and Mary Pitman (advertising).
Also receiving copies were Minister Parsanlal, Young and a representative from the Santa Rosa, Arima parish - which sells the most copies each week.
After dismissal, all were invited to the Catholic Centre car park for refreshments.
FACT: In the last 20 years, the Catholic News was not published on only two Sundays - the weekend after the July 1990 coup, and a few years earlier, the date unknown, when Express staff accidentally threw into the garbage the weekend's sheets for printing. - RS