|The deacon from Maloney - Dec 13|
|2009 - Features|
|Friday, 11 December 2009 15:28|
Staffwriter Raymond Syms interviews the archdiocese’s newest deacon Steve Ransome (left) prior to his diaconal ordination Saturday, December 12, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
There’s a stigma attached to Maloney.
Drive through at any time and you’ll see groups of young men just liming on the blocks. The unemployment rate is high, as is the poverty level, as is the incidents of violent crime. But good has come and will continue to come out of that east Trinidad community.
Steve Ransome grew up there. It was tough, the candidate for the priesthood says, mainly because of people’s perception of the area. He remembers when he was 16 years going to a school bazaar with three friends. He met, danced and chatted with a girl until she asked where he lived. She asked him to hold her cup for her, she would be back. When she returned, she asked him a second time where he lived. She took the cup and walked off when the reply was the same.
“Where I lived the houses seemed stuck to each other. My bedroom wall was a wall to my neighbours’ kitchen and his speaker boxes were right there, so on a Sunday morning….” he laughs. But Steve looks at his growing up in Maloney in a positive way.
“Salvation always has a context. That context is always a time, a place, and a people. But you always have to see that opportunity to bring Jesus into the picture of that context. Coming out of that context (Maloney) I suppose I have a built-in love and appreciation for people who know what it is not to have, and to do without.”
He explains that when he becomes a priest he will have to speak to that context. “It does not mean privileging the poor in the parish to the extent that the rich feel left out. If people have needs you have to be attuned to those needs and not go into denial”.
Steve was born 31 years ago to Rosetta and Norris, the third of four children. He has two elder sisters and a younger brother. Before Maloney, the family called San Juan home. He attended San Juan Seventh Day Adventist Primary School, which was just down the road. His grandmother was a member of that Church. Secondary schooling was at Curepe Junior Secondary and St Augustine Senior Comprehensive, where he did his Advanced Level studies.
The family moved to Maloney when he was around seven years. Although they lived in San Juan, they didn’t worship at the much closer St John the Baptist Church but at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. It is at Maloney parish he received his first communion and was confirmed. As he became more involved in Church life - youth group, altar server, lector - and in the process overcoming his shyness, his calling began to emerge.
Confirmation was the turning point. “We had some good teachers, we had Neil Parsanlal, who was a seminarian then, and Fr (Clyde) Harvey was parish priest. It was really a nice time. I always felt the two calls - married life and priesthood - were legitimate, but I always questioned which one I was called to. The idea of becoming a priest, of service, community work and outreach, and just giving your whole life for something that was meaningful, really appealed to me”.
After A’s in 1997 he took a year off then entered university, studying for a degree in Sociology. After UWI, he taught Form fives and sixes at North Gate College (St Augustine) for a year, then entered the Seminary in 2002.
His family has always been supportive. His mother, born an Anglican but who became Catholic in 1990, sensed that her first born son was being called. A bit of a joke: seems he liked wearing white clothes since he was small, and his mother joked one day if he wanted to be a priest.
He recalls in detail the first time he broached the topic with his father who was a policeman. Steve says he once considered following in his footsteps.
“He was polishing his shoe. He never raised his head. He said ‘If that is what you feel you have to do in life, then I will support you’.”
Fr Harvey has been a bit of a role model, being the first priest he really got to know. “He came (to Maloney) when I was 10, and left at 19. He was the first priest who made me think that priesthood was even possible. I think that’s the best way to put it. That the priesthood wasn’t for weirdos.”
Steve Ransome (centre) assists Fr Steve Duncan as he baptises two new members of the Church during the 2008 Easter vigil in Gasparillo. At left is Fr Bonnie Abraham, who is now based in the US Virgin Islands. CN FILE PHOTO
He also has good memories of Fr Michael Makhan at the Cathedral, and successors to Fr Harvey at Maloney, Frs Allan Ventour and Lennox MacPhillip. “Their ministries didn’t make me think it (the priesthood) wasn’t for me, it didn’t do anything to dissuade my thinking”.
I asked him the usual question about seminary life. The best part for him was the fellowship and friendships formed, under the leadership of a “good rector”, Msgr Mike de Verteuil.
There were the usual challenges of course. “Seminary on its own is a whole different scenario. Nobody socialises a young man to be a priest eh. You get socialisation to get married, even to be single. Your mother tells you, ‘When yuh get married ah hope yuh change your ways’, but nobody tells you as a young boy ‘When you become a priest you have to do so, so..’ There is a culture shock, a whole shift in world view. That’s always the hard part.”
In the Church, he feels drawn to social justice issues, partly because of his university studies. He remembers telling deceased Cheryl Herrera at the Pastoral Centre one day, that he felt called to teach catechesis and Church doctrine. “I see it as such a need. There are many Catholics walking around who feel they know the faith. It’s not that they believe they need to know more…they feel they know the faith and when you hear them talk, they don’t know.”
About the priesthood, Steve describes it as an irony. “Jesus was an irony. He was born of a virgin and had two fathers, He died on a cross for sinners yet he was without sin.
Our irony is that we live in a society where sex sells and yet we take a vow of celibacy…
We have to be an irony that will force people to ask the question why - Why would somebody want to be a priest, and to come to know the person, and in knowing the person come to, I think, know a deeper understanding of who Jesus is in the life of that person and to be so transformed by that experience”.
When he does become a priest sometime next year, God willing, he intends to join the informal “Under Tens” fraternity of priests: priests ordained within the last ten years.
Steve ends explaining that he has already been warned about certain pitfalls of being a priest. “ (Because) people will want to put you up on a pedestal…sometimes you can have a feeling of entitlement. So somebody gives you a postcard and you’re looking for the cheque inside and it’s a danger.
“(Fr) Matthew d’Hereaux told me priesthood has its own ‘currency’. Once they know you’re a priest, they want to give you things. And you become like a ‘sorf man’ because you lose touch. I feel strongly about that. I don’t want my preaching to become disconnected.”________________________________________________________________________________________ **DISCLAIMER**: User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Camsel/Catholic News or its staff. Camsel/Catholic News accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments. Please help us keep our site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option. Camsel/Catholic News reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed. Before posting, please refer to the Comments Policy under Resources