|Great family spirit exists in Erin - Oct 31|
|Series - PARISH UPDATE|
|Saturday, 30 October 2010 23:02|
by Felix Edinborough
If you live in the north, as I do, and you wish to take a trip to the parish of Erin, do it early on a Sunday morning when there is very little traffic and you will enjoy the drive. Once you exit the highway and head towards Golconda, the atmosphere changes and so too the scenery. Here the eye begins to relax on verdant fields and waving palms until you reach the more populated Debe and Penal after which nature reverts to her welcoming luxuriant tropical vegetation and continues so with intermittent village and small town interruptions until you arrive at your destination, Erin.
I stopped off at Los Bajos, one of the churches of the parish, and as I sought information about the parish activities, one of the elders, Francis Carabai, informed me that my findings would be incomplete if I did not include something of the history. This statement was reinforced by John Gervais in Erin. From them I found out that before the present structure was built in Los Bajos there was a chapel in Los Charos which was the sole place of Catholic worship in the area. The church dedicated to St Joseph The Worker built in 1952, eventually replaced this. According to John, “The Erin Church originated in the Capuchin Mission in La Unain and the priest had service in Cedros and travelled on horseback from Cedros to Erin, rested in the back of a shop, then travelled to Mission, spent a month there, then through the forest on to La Brea and Guapo. When he found that this was too tiresome he had a church built in Erin close to the present church building.”
The Erin parish comprises four worshipping communities: Los Bajos under the patronage of St Joseph the Worker, Buenos Ayres dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Palo Seco Settlement, known as Sobo Village, where there is no church and Erin with the church of St Francis of Assisi.
The Catholic faithful of this district are very grateful for those labourers of the harvest who have served them devotedly through the years. For the past 35 years these have been: Frs Andrew Cockburn, Joseph Jubrajsingh, Brendan Ryan, George Lewis, John Lawrence and Roger Pascall.
To keep the parish spiritually alive there are various functioning organisations: Catechists, RCIA, three choirs, altar servers, lectors, Rosary Confraternity, Legion of Mary, St Vincent de Paul, Rosa Mystica, Catholic Charismatic Reunion, Men’s Group, Social Assistance, Family Life, Youth Group, Parish Council, each community has its own Community Council and sends two members to the Parish Council, School Board, Lay and Eucharistic Ministers, Stewardship, Family Life Unit.
The Family Life Unit (FLU) has a special role of keeping the parish informed about what is taking place in the wider Church as the parish suffers from a paucity of electronic communication services and wireless access is difficult. For example there is no cable television service in the area and radio communication is had with some difficulty; even cell phone usage is problematic for at times the reception is poor. Internet service too is not easily had. To attract the interest of the faithful the FLU disseminates some of the information in dramatic presentations.
It learned that this is the first parish to form a Men’s Group and this fellowship was initiated by Lee Birmingham. The members meet regularly for talks and discussions. They act as role models to the younger males. Next year this group will celebrate 19 years of existence.
Should you find it difficult to be a member of any of these oraganisations you still have the chance to develop your spiritual life by taking part in celebrations where the flock gather in prayer. There is Eucharistic Adoration at Los Bajos on the first and last week (Sunday?) of every month from 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. In preparation for each patronal of the parish there is a novena. For the feast of the Immaculate Conception there is an outdoor Mass at Erin.
Located far from the madding crowd and well placed in a peaceful rural setting, this neighbourhood maintains its spiritual and mental health with a plethora of community activities, which no doubt is the main reason for the atmosphere of family togetherness that is experienced among the people.
A great and enthusiastic gathering of the local population can be witnessed on the Family Day which each community holds annually. This year, however, only two were held. The Bingo which I am told is a grand family affair takes place this year at the Palo Seco Velodrome on November 14. You should not miss the annual Tea Party and Parang on December 12. Still to come for this year is the annual Christmas Dinner. All these activities are treated as family outings.
If you belong to this parish you have many opportunities to venture out in togetherness and visit outlying districts. A favourite excursion is the annual visit to La Vega. What might be considered even more appealing is the cruise which parishioners undertake every two years.
The younger folk of the community are well remembered and there are activities which are a magnet for their attention. They love hikes and outings as this keeps them moving on. There is a bike club of which the parish priest is a prominent member and he takes the youth riding two to three times a month. The energetic young folk do not like the priest to reach back before them. The latter confessed to me however that he usually returns first. (I wonder if he takes a short cut?) This year they spent the Emancipation weekend in Margarita under the spiritual guidance of their parish priest, Fr Roger Pascall. The Catholic Youth Game Show is coming up in February 2011. Every year there is a Lenten Youth Mission which is apart from the parish mission. What I found very laudable was their mission of carolling for the shut-ins at Christmas time
The worshippers of this Catholic community are aware that to keep the parish progressing a lot of work has to be done and so they are always undertaking some project that would benefit the neighbourhood. At the moment what is uppermost in their minds is the construction of a church in Palo Seco. Together with this they also have on the drawing board the building of a Parish Hall in Los Bajos and the upgrading of the audio-visual facilities in all the churches. The choir has a special project of raising funds to purchase equipment.
With so much on their plate they know that that they need a massive appetite to consume this menu. One of their concerns is one that is common in many parishes – the difficulty of keeping the youth spiritually and otherwise engaged after Confirmation. They find that they do not have enough programmes or an adequate supply of people in leadership roles to keep the young people together. The catechists would like to have greater support from the parents and greater commitment from the Catholic teachers. Another challenge they face is the fact that there are several worshipping communities and it is not always easy to keep them together. They, however, from time to time organise activities, like the Family Day, where participants experience a wonderful family atmosphere.
A great advantage of this populace is the fact that there are no strangers living among them. What I was told is that everybody is everybody’s friend. The result is that there is a great family spirit existing among the people. Indeed I was privileged to experience this conviviality for I arrived in Erin as a visitor only to be invited to a lunch with the catechists and some other workers of the parish. Obviously I accepted the invitation and by the end of this meal I felt comfortable enough to be considered a member of the family. I expect that as a family member I will enjoy more of these occasions of “appetising” togetherness.
The Parish Priest informed me that his focus is on five major areas: 1.Youth. 2. Improving liturgy. 3. Social outreach. 4. Outreach to Sobo Community. 5. Improving the understanding of the Catholic Faith.
He likes the rural community and the “family life where everybody knows everybody”. It is noticeable that the parishioners love and support their priest so with a unified flock and an enthusiastic leader the parish of Erin, though nestled in what might seem to the city dwellers a far away land, has much to teach the archdiocese about living as a family and Christian fellowship.________________________________________________________________________________________ **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