Cathedral parish is taking being missionary disciples seriously. In parish discussions some months ago it was mentioned that evangelicals and other groups use the Brian Lara Promenade for evangelization purposes, sounding very much like St Paul at the Areopagus (Ac 17: 16-34). We felt we had a natural space on the Promenade – our cathedral car park – and we need to use it to our missionary advantage. Some parishioners also suggested that we fit the cathedral with external speakers which can be used either on weekends or at least on special occasions.
We decided to kick off this missionary initiative with a Healing Mass on Thursday 24 October 2019. We teamed up with Fr Trevor Nathasingh and Laventille-Morvant parish to bring the gospel to the courtyard. Tents and chairs were set up in the cathedral car park. We also set up a very effective sound system and a wooden altar that is used for special purposes. All chairs were filled, with some people standing as Mass began at 6.00 p.m. preceded by the recitation of the luminous mysteries. Onlookers gathered alongside the church fence on the north and west sides to be part of what was going on outside. A fair number of youths were also present.
Fr Trevor spoke on taking a keener interest in one’s faith and understanding the Mass better; he urged deeper hospitality among all present and gave testimonies about how people do change under the influence of the Holy Spirit and a personal relationship with Jesus. He also spoke about the importance of stewardship and giving generously to God. Many people were prayed over and nourished afterwards by the Holy Eucharist. After Mass, many hands made light work as all present showed signs of hospitality as people took chairs back into the church and cleaned up the area.
The second missionary outreach took place on Friday 29 November 2019. This was a collaborative effort between cathedral parish and Living Water Community. A planning meeting was held on 15 November with our Administrator Fr Martin Sirju, lay ministers and prayer group members, and members of Living Water Community including Rhonda Maingot. Friday 29 November was the date chosen and the outreach was seen as a preparation for Advent and for our upcoming Feast Day on 8 December.
The event began with Mass with Fr Martin Sirju presiding. It ended with the blessing of ‘evangelists’ from Living Water Community, Towers of Strength, Cathedral Prayer Group and lay ministers after reception of Holy Communion. Rosaries and other sacramentals were blessed. The Blessed Sacrament was also exposed and the Paschal Candle set in the middle of the aisle just before the sanctuary. Persons then went out in pairs to invite people to come inside the church to pray. The intention was not to convert anyone but to invite them to connect/reconnect with God and with sacred space.
A large number of people responded. It was very touching to see some come as families and lit their candles, pray and then plant them in trays of sand specially brought in for the occasion. Some asked for prayers, some wept, some promised to return. Others asked for the times of Mass, including the Christmas schedule; some admitted they hadn’t come to church in years. The outreach lasted two and a half hours and ended with Benediction.
We thank in a special way the Cathedral parish community, including Towers of Strength and Cathedral Prayer Group, who were praying for the success of the event. We thank Ms Maingot for raising the idea of meeting people on the promenade and inviting them to pray in the cathedral. We were happy to
witness to our own sending out of the seventy-two (Lk 10: 1-23) – we were much less than seventy-two! – and to give a vivid example of collaboration and co-responsibility.