|Tortuga – a high energy community - MARCH 6, 2011|
|Series - PARISH UPDATE|
|Friday, 04 March 2011 12:16|
“You have to raise the bar.” This was the exhortation from Fr Steve Duncan as he preached his homily to the attentive congregation at Mass in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Gasparillo. It was the Sixth Sunday of the year and the parish priest was spurring on his faithful to go the extra mile. The Gospel of the day stated: “If your virtue goes no deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven.”
The other churches of the parish of Tortuga are Our Lady of Montserrat in Tortuga, the mother church of the parish, St Joseph in Mayo, and two chapels – Our Lady of Sorrows in Guaracara and Christ the King in Piparo. In the communities like Caratal #1, Caratal #2 and Corosal Mass is celebrated once a month. The largest community and administrative centre, however, is Gasparillo.
This parish was devotedly administered in the last 30 years by: Dominicans – Frs Reginald P Ging, John Woods, Anthony Roddy, Rupert Gittens and Michael O’Connor and Diocesans – Frs Ian Taylor, Sebastian Madhosingh, Allan Ventour, and Steve Duncan.
The legacy of these labourers of the harvest is that organisations have been established to take care of the needs of the parishioners. Today, regardless of your religious interest you can find activities that would nourish your spiritual growth. You can make your choices from the following parish organisations: Tortuga Shrine Committee, Marian Prayer Group, Pastoral Council, Finance Committee, Youth Council, Lay Ministers, Eucharistic Ministers, Altar Servers, Lectors, Sacristans, St Vincent de Paul, Legion of Mary, Holy Spirit Movers, Charismatic Prayer Group, Catechists - Post First Communion/Pre-Confirmation, Choir/Music Ministry, Property Management Teams, Harvest Committees, Post-Baptism Ministry, Communications, Evangelisation, Stewardship.
In order to manage so many organisations in such a vast area you need an administrator with a lot of energy and the requirements are found in the vibrant Fr Steve. Fortunately he is blessed not only with a youthful countenance but his winning smile and convincing rhetoric helps him gain many a worker for his parish projects. He has been able to energise his faithful followers who in turn help worshippers to “raise the bar”.
It is no wonder that in this parish people are always on the go and this is evidenced by the commitment shown by the members of the various committees. The Tortuga Shrine Committee, for example, comprises a team of ardent workers who are devoted to looking after the historic Tortuga Church. You need only visit this building to testify that they are a hard working group. They have started a museum in the choir loft of the church containing the artifacts of the parish, showing the historical and spiritual value of the building. This will no doubt encourage visitors to the area and be a worthwhile tourist attraction.
The soul in this worshipping community is nourished both by religious activities and social interaction, as this is considered very important in giving the faithful life in abundance. This is realised through a number of events spread out throughout the year. One of the major ones is the annual harvest, four in all, in Mayo, Gasparillo, Tortuga and Caratal#2. The harvests bring together the parishioners of all the communities who make tangible contributions to them and provide an opportunity for all to visit the other centres within the parish.
Two Fridays before Carnival you can join in the grand Carnival Extravaganza which is oraganised by the Parish Youth Council and normally vibrates in Mayo. This year, however, a youth night at Gasparillo replaces the Carnival extravaganza. Additionally, for the past six years, there is a “carnival liturgy” on the Saturday before carnival. Keep the carnival energy steaming for the parish Sports Day on March 30.
During the Lenten period you can participate in a series of outdoor devotional experiences. Be part of the Nine Churches pilgrimage on the Fifth Sunday of Lent and you will have a prayerful experience. You will also meet parishioners from the neighbouring vineyards of Gran Couva, Tabaquite and Carapachaima as this is a joint effort. You are in addition invited aboard the Treasure Queen to enjoy the Lenten Cruise.
To give a thrust to their evengelisation programme this year, there will be the reintroduction of the Outdoor Street Crusade at major junctions throughout the parish. To make sure it is well publicised there are plans for a motorcade two days before the street preachers take to the outdoor podiums.
Food and fun
You know the saying, “empty bag can’t stand up”. This is why you must participate in the Parish Dinner held on the second Saturday in December. With the body fully nourished, join the Labour Day SVP beach outing and get some much needed exercise with a lot of fun as a lagniappe.
If you are of the more mature and graying populace of this milieu you are specially recognised on Senior Citizens’ Day. There is Mass and a luncheon, and should you be ill you are anointed. You are not left out or forgotten if you are home-bound a lunch will be taken to you. Moreover you can expect visits from time to time from the Eucharistic Ministers. One of the means of preparing for this grand aforementioned day is the Christmas concert held on the preceding Wednesday as this generates the funds necessary to make the day a success. As a bonus the honoured guests or more ripened fruits of the tree of life receive a donation of a small hamper to take home.
Should you be one of those (like me) who easily succumbs to the travel bug virus, just be a member of this worshipping township and you will get your fill of much needed travel sustenance. There is an annual Parish Vacation Retreat that was conceived in April 2005 and has spawned prolifically, causing spiritual excursions to be held in St Lucia, Antigua, Petite Martinique, including Carriacou via Grenada, Dominica and Barbados. This year (2011) devout travellers will journey to Jamaica and plans are afoot for the 2012 retreat to be held in Guyana. One of the plusses of this experience is that these religious tourists get an insight into the life and culture of a Caribbean neighbour and are exposed to their style of worship.
To make sure you do not miss out on any of the happenings of the community you can be the owner of a Parish Calendar. Here all the events for the year are noted and you will have no excuse if you miss any. Please do not say, “No one told me.”
With a choice of such a plethora of activities you might think that the organisers of this Catholic family are exhausted. Thanks to their energetic shepherd the sheep here cannot be docile. They are forever aware that maintenance of what they already have is of extreme importance.
Major renovations have been carried out on six of the eight worship centres over the past two years. The usual upgrade and maintenance is on-going. The others under their parochial jurisdiction need to be upgraded. The presbytery at Tortuga is imploring for renovation while the congregation would welcome new pews. The Parish Hall in Gasparillo needs a total make over and expansion and the Mayo congregation would rejoice should they have the opportunity to possess even a small hall.
The youth are well appreciated here and though there is a struggle to maintain formal youth groups the young people are involved in all areas in the parish and are represented in every committee. To take advantage of change, to ensure continuity and freshness of ideas and to eliminate life ownership, each committee is appointed for three years. There is one Pastoral Council for the parish and one Finance Committee.
Since this is a rural community it suffers the ailment common to such districts. Transportation is a problem. To manage this difficulty the parish groups have a “Minister of Transport” who organises transport for those who have to travel. Thus major spiritual gatherings as for the Easter Vigil, Pentecost, Corpus Christi and the Feast of Christ the King are held at strategic points in the parish and mass transit facilities, financed by parish funds, are made available to the faithful. The Easter celebration is located at Gasparillo, Pentecost is at Mayo, Corpus Christi at Tortuga, Christ the King at Piparo.
Needless to say the parish priest is proud of his parishioners and the feeling is mutual. The latter testify that Fr Steve gives them the opportunity to grow and use their skills. They say that he has the ability to identify the strong points of individuals who would in turn be motivated to rise to the occasion and put their best foot forward.
What the sheep of this flock consider the most significant gesture of appreciation is the “Thank You” celebration held by Fr Steve where he regales over two hundred of the faithful. The priest sees this as his effort to build confidence among the people while he acts as a guiding light beaming from the promontory of the sanctuary. It is no wonder that among these devoted and faithful worshippers you can readily find many who are motivated to raise the bar challenging the rest of the archdiocese to vault towards the New Evangelisation.________________________________________________________________________________________ **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