|Golden jubilee of priestly ordination - Sep 26|
|2010 - Features|
|Thursday, 23 September 2010 15:49|
This weekend (Sept 25) marks the 50th anniversary of priestly ordination of Frs Rudolph Mohammed and Reginald Hezekiah. Fr Rudy is assistant parish priest at Santa Rosa, Arima and Fr Reggie is parish priest of St Charles, Tunapuna. The parish communities of Santa Rosa and St Charles, as well as the jubilarians’ families and friends, have marked this milestone in different ways. Indeed it is a milestone that the entire Archdiocese of Port of Spain celebrates with joy and gratitude.
On August 29, Santa Rosa parish celebrated Fr Rudy’s anniversary with a special Mass at which Fr Joseph Harris, Vicar for Priests was the homilist. On Monday, September 20 and Friday, September 24 at Assumption and St Charles respectively, Fr Hezekiah’s Eucharistic celebrations were held.
Fr Reginald Hezekiah celebrates the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination September 25. On behalf of St Charles, the Communications Team heartily congratulates our parish priest on this wonderful achievement.
Ours is the tenth parish that “Fr Reggie”, as he is fondly called by his loving parishioners, has served since he was ordained in 1960. His first assignment was at Sacred Heart in La Brea and since then, he has served various parishes throughout Trinidad – small, large, urban, rural, you name it Fr Reggie has been there! Accordingly, he has found that the common thread connecting all people, no matter their socio-economic or cultural background, is the need to be loved, accepted, appreciated and cared for.
People recognise his genuine love and care and to this he attributes his success as a priest. Currently we share our parish priest with Emmanuel Community, the Assumption Prayer Group and Towers of Strength. He has been the spiritual director to all three for many years.
The Assumption Prayer group with which he worked closely during his tenure there, and with whom he makes an annual pilgrimage, still remains very near and dear to him, and the faithful from far and wide travel to his healing Masses wherever they are conducted – oftentimes here on our own parish turf.
We commend Fr Reggie for his deep commitment to our parish and for all that he has done for us, parish priest, parish administrator, papa – you name it. We thank him especially for his dedication to our youths and we cannot forget that through his efforts, ours was the first Catholic Church to be air-conditioned.
Fr Reggie claims that his spiritual journey has not been especially difficult since his many joys and successes far outweigh his temptations. He acknowledges that it is much more difficult for young men of today to consider the priesthood since the worldly distractions are so much greater, but he advises them to listen for that strong call in their hearts and allow the Archdiocese, through its mentorship programme, to help them to determine whether it is a genuine call. Even so the road is rough but he advises, “Adapt to the spiritual life style, avoid unnecessary worldly distractions and stay focussed on God using you, even in your brokenness”.
Changes along the way, even those initiated by the second Vatican Council failed to faze Fr Reggie in his pursuit to be God’s instrument. He claims that he has been blessed in his ability to adapt.
Father, there is no other way to say it: “We love you, love you, love you, yes we do!!! God’s blessings as you continue your spiritual journey.”
Fr Rudy has come full circle
Rudy Mohammed was born on March 5, 1933 in Carapaichima to a Muslim father and an Anglican mother but he was baptised Catholic. Fr Rudy’s godmother was a fervent Catholic so she ensured that every Sunday he attended Holy Mass.
Around 1941, the Mohammed family moved to Belmont. Young Rudy attended Belmont Boys’ RC School where he made his First Communion and Confirmation. He progressed to Fatima College and it was there his interest in religious life began to blossom. He was fascinated with the life of Ignatius of Loyola and began to imitate him by leading a life of fasting and penance.
Seeing his fervour, Fr Corcoran recommended the young Rudy Mohammed to Archbishop Finbar Ryan who encouraged him to join the Seminary at Mount St Benedict. This he did in 1953 and was ordained September 25, 1960. The young Fr Mohammed then set off on his first assignment at Santa Rosa Parish, Arima as assistant parish priest to Fr Patience. In order to get to know “his flock” Fr Rudy embarked upon a mission of visiting the homes of his parishioners. This he thoroughly enjoyed and quickly became a favourite in Arima. He was clearly a people-person and his gentle disposition endeared him to both young and old. Fr Rudy spent many years in Arima, making his mark on the landscape. In 1967 he left for Erin as parish priest.
After three years in Erin he went to San Fernando as assistant parish priest until 1971. During this period he was assigned to San Fernando General Hospital. In 1973 he was assigned as assistant to the Archbishop and served as Archbishop Pantin’s secretary until 1974. Laventille Shrine was his next stop until 1977.
Even though he was enjoying parish life, his love for learning led Fr Rudy to Canada to read for his Masters in Theology and Religious Education. On his return to Trinidad he was sent to Mount Lambert where he led the parish until 1982. Later that year he travelled to London for training in Communication studies. He returned to Trinidad in 1985 and went on to Delaford, Tobago until 1987. He went back to the Morvant/Laventille parish from 1988 to 1994, after which he was assigned to Cedros until 2001.
Fr Mohammed was offered retirement at Mount St Benedict. However, his passion for the parish and preaching the Word led him to decline the offer and take up an appointment at Santa Rosa. He has come full circle. He now serves the people of Santa Rosa and continues with as much enthusiasm as in 1960 - as though he never left.
“It is indeed an honour to have been asked to deliver the homily at this the 50th anniversary celebration of the ordination of Fr. Rudy Mohammed. Fr. Rudy and myself go back a long way, from his days as Assistant PP here in Arima when I was a student at the Holy Ghost Father’s formation house here in Arima on Tumpuna Road and then later on when he was PP of Erin and I was sent to help him on weekends. Fr. Rudy thus mentored me in my early days of priesthood during which we built a long and lasting friendship.
The gospel reading for this Sunday is I believe very appropriate for the occasion that we celebrate today.
It used to be that meals among all peoples were ways of cementing friendships. When one was invited to a home for a meal one entered into a certain level of intimacy. In our more complex world, meals have come to have different meanings. There are breakfast meetings and business lunches etc which carry no commitment with them. Today people are normally very careful about whom they invite into their homes for meals for meals bring, however unconsciously it may be, commitments with them.
For the people of the middle east of Jesus’ time this commitment meant a reciprocal invitation and so they were also very careful both about inviting and accepting invitations especially if they realized that returning the favor was more than they could or cared to handle (see Luke 14:15-24). Moreover, inviting people who could return the favor was viewed as cultural suicide. Such guests—the poor, crippled, lame, and blind were clearly people of a lower social status than the host. To associate with such was to dishonor one’s own status. One’s social equals would then shun future invitations, and a host of means would be socially ruined. Jesus was therefore being totally counter-cultural when he tells the host who invited him to dinner to invite not those of high social status, not those who could improve one’s social standing in the community but those who had nothing to offer in return.
Among the ways in which Eucharist has been understood during the history of the Church is Eucharist as Meal; Sacred meal. In this understanding of Eucharist, we the present day disciples of Jesus are the Eucharistic people par excellence. We are the people of the Meal, but contrary to Meal seen as a means of discrimination and social division, the Eucharistic meal is Source, sign and means of unity. Nowhere else in the world do persons of varying social, economic, and ethnic groups eat and drink at the same table, the Eucharistic table, the table of the Lord. This is a symbol of what the world can be and is meant to be. The Eucharistic meal, source and sign of the harmony which God wants for the world, is different from other meals because it represents (makes present today) that action of Jesus through which sin, the cause and source of disharmony was conquered. Other meals, consciously and unconsciously often promote discrimination and division.
The role of the priest in the context of the Eucharistic meal is thus extremely important. The priest is not called simply to say the words of consecration; he is called to ensure that this meal is what it is intended to be, i.e. sign and source of unity. The priest prepares the faithful to live what the Eucharist signifies; He is therefore an agent and servant of the harmony which God wants for the world. As a priest Fr. Rudy has been very successful among those that many of us do not know how to approach. He knows how to lime on the block and to bring those liming on the block into harmony with the rest of society. For that gift, fruit of God’s spirit in his life, we thank God first of all and we thank Fr. Rudy for his fidelity to God’s will in and through that gift.
As a Eucharistic people however, not only the priest but all of us are thus called to be agents of that harmony which is God’s purpose for the world. Jesus’ call to the host, a leading Pharisee, to invite not his wealthy neighbours but rather “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” is thus a call to be an agent of harmony. It is to this that we commit ourselves every time we participate in Eucharist. All the saints took this call seriously. Through their works of education, health care, social services and prayer, they sought to fulfil God’s purpose which is harmony. It is to this that Fr. Rudy has committed himself for 50 years. It is to this that You and I are called to commit ourselves.”