|Gran Couva-Tabaquite welcomes you - Mar 14|
|Series - PARISH UPDATE|
|Friday, 12 March 2010 15:01|
“The parish of Gran Couva, situated in the ward of Montserrat, is an area of extraordinary beauty as well as fertility. The hedges of hibiscus along the roads make flowery pathways.” This is how Sr Marie Thérèse describes this parish located in the centre of Trinidad in her book Parish Beat.
On my visit there, however, I was informed that the official name is Gran Couva-Tabaquite but I have to agree that the above description, which is more than 30 years old still holds today.
This parish covers a very large area in central Trinidad and comprises St Anthony’s- Tabaquite, St Catherine of Siena- Gran Couva, St Joseph- Brasso, Sacred Heart- Mamoral, St Bartholomew-Flanagin Town, Our Lady of Guadalupe - Los Atajos (locally pronounced lah-sa-taw).
During the last thirty years or so the priests who were fortunate enough to serve these very friendly people are: Dominicans - Frs Vincent M. Kennedy, Michael O’Connor, Joseph Ralph. Michael Hayden; Spiritan - Fr Lennox Mc Philip; diocesan - Ronald Tagallie, Msgr Robert Llanos, Frs Christopher Lumsden and Roger Paponette.
When I visited this community I met some parishioners at the St Bartholomew Church, Flanagin Town during the time of their Lenten retreat. I was pleasantly surprised by the large turn out. I mistakenly thought that since this area does not boast of a thick population there would not be many of the faithful in attendance. Here, however, the residents did not only come out in their numbers but they were early and piously reciting the rosary well before the starting time of their retreat.
The information furnished by those to whom I spoke only served to reinforce my first impression that this is a spiritually alive community kept motivated by the various parish groups. The variety of these Church organisations means that all and sundry are well catered for. As a devotee in this environment regardless of your age, you can enrich your spiritual life by participating in one of these groups: The Pastoral Council, Helpers of St Martin, Meals on Wheels, Prayer Groups, Choir (one in each community), Catechists (including the RCIA), Youth Group, Altar Servers, Men’s Group, Lay Ministry. The Helpers of St Martin reach out to the poor and assist the needy.
The members of the Pastoral Council have, as part of their mandate, to oversee several ministries and committees. These include the ministries of Evangelisation, Youth and Family Life, Liturgy and Catechetics. The Committees are Finance, Building & Maintenance and Events.
When I asked about activities in the parish it was with lively enthusiasm that parishioners told me about the Evangelisation Crusade of 2008. It was held for two nights in each community and was very successful for it resulted in a larger number of people than normal coming forward for Baptism, several others having their marriage situation regularised and bigger RCIA classes.
A unique and very popular activity in this parish is the Family Day. What is unique about it is that it is not a fund-raising activity but what you may term an entrance free all-inclusive. On this day members of the worshipping community bring quantities of victuals to share with their neighbours. Obviously I inquired of my interlocutors if as a stranger I would be welcome to join in this festivity and smiled gloatingly at the positive response.
For those who would wish more information of this celebrative and diet-breaking event know that the day begins with Mass in the mid-morning; then there is a shared agape meal. Each community contributes several dishes, so that the menu is deliciously varied causing you to salivate throughout the day into the evening. Games and cultural presentations take place after lunch. Each community participates and makes its own special presentation. This sounds like something not to be missed.
Not all in this milieu is physical entertainment. There is a more reflective mood pervading on Good Friday as the faithful follow the procession of the Cross with dramatisations at every station. This reflective activity is organised by the youth. In this locale Lent is taken very seriously and one of the more soul-searching devotions is the all-night vigil which this year will take place at the Gran Couva church on March 27 starting at 8.00 p.m. and terminating with Mass at 7.00 the following morning. This prayerful event has been taking place annually at this location for the last 10 years.
You know about the celebration of Les Rois (lewah)? That is the ceremony that brings the parang season to an end. This comes to pass at Tabaquite every year at the appointed time and it kicks off with Mass at 5.00 p.m..
Despite the brotherly love and cheerful atmosphere of these people they have to adjust their way of life to survive the challenges they have to live with. One of these is transport. Because there is no regular transport service and the communities are separated by a distance of miles there is usually great difficulty in commuting from one place to another to attend functions. Some of the settlements are not on any regular transport route so taxis have to be hired when they need to travel out of their dwelling places.
They did not complain, but the maintenance of five schools is a burden that they have to bear and since financial resources are hard to come by the parish committee responsible for budgeting has to do all in its power to muster the necessary fiscal support. In other words they need a lot of money to keep the parish and its schools running.
One of the major fund-raising functions is the annual harvest festival. This year it will be held on May 2 in Gran Couva starting with Mass at 10.00 a.m. Another gathering that brings in some much needed money is the annual Christmas Dinner. Added to this the parishioners give fiscal support through “sacrificial envelopes”.
Despite all the burdens they carry on their shoulders the people of this community know that they must keep on marching along the road to progress and so they have several projects on the drawing board. They have already prepared the land for the building of a church in Los Atajos. They hope that this will be launched towards the end of March. The old Brasso RC school needs to be renovated for they plan to use the building as a church when it is refurbished. The church at Gran Couva needs to be renovated. In Tabaquite the premises need improved security so the plans are to fence the church building to build a car park.
What do the animators of this parish community have in their minds for the populace under their spiritual care? Apart from the above-mentioned plans, outreach to schools in the area, both spiritual and social has been in their minds for some time. As part of the social outreach, a parish school wind-ball cricket tournament is envisaged, and non-Catholic schools of the area will be invited to participate.
Before reluctantly leaving this warm and friendly community I asked the parish administrator what he thought of the faithful under his charge and without hesitation and with a contented glow on his countenance he replied: “They come together very easily and are very welcoming.” He would like the parish to become the uniting force, the agent that brings the people together using sports and youth ministry as a tool.
Though my stay there was not very long I can fully support what the parish administrator, Fr Roger Paponette, said. On their behalf I welcome you to the parish of Gran Couva-Tabaquite with its worshiping communities.________________________________________________________________________________________ **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