|Catholic News, Trinidad, Saturday, 01 November 2014 23:00|
Let your life do the talking – Archbishop
Become authentic disciples, Archbishop Joseph Harris told Confirmation candidates at the October 23 Generation S Youth Assembly, and help other young people become disciples. “The sacrament of Confirmation is to make you authentic disciples of the Lord, remember that.” He explained that an authentic disciple was one who “learns from the Master, imitates the Master and does what the Master does”. Archbishop Harris remarked, “Authentic disciples would listen to the Master and go out and make other disciples, and teach others everything that Jesus has taught them – you are being confirmed for that.” He challenged the young people gathered at the Preysal High School, Couva, to find other young persons who were not disciples of Christ and to make them into authentic disciples, not by “standing on a soap-box and preaching” but by “living in a certain way…let your life speak”. Everything they said should be “validated” by their life, he added. Archbishop Harris also encouraged the youth to make time for God, to read their bible daily, even for just five minutes. “If you truly love God you would want to be in contact with Him as often as possible.”
He went on to say that speaking to God often would allow them to become aware of what God was calling them to do. He stressed that prayer did not always have to involve the “Our Father” or “Hail Mary” but could be much simpler. He said: “Use your Trini lyrics to talk to God! The same way you speak to your girlfriend or boyfriend by saying things like ‘You are the most important person in my life’, ‘I wish you were here with meh now’ or ‘I can’t do without you’… This is how you can talk to God.” In closing, Archbishop Harris told the candidates that to be Generation S (Service), they must be selfless. “Think of others, help others, do the best that you can for others. That will make you a saint… It’s how you love and how you give yourself, how you put others before you. That is what will show us that you are truly imitating the Lord Jesus. And my dear young people, if you live that way then you will truly be Generation S – a generation of service, a generation of young people dedicated to serving others…to build up the community, to build up the Church, to make this country a better country than it is.”
– Renée Smith
‘Priests and nuns are normal people’
Hundreds of Confirmation candidates from across the Archdiocese flooded the hall at Preysal High School, Couva, on October 23 and were encouraged to open their hearts to the call of the priesthood and religious life at the first Generation S Youth Assembly. The Generation S (Service) campaign is intended to “keep the conversation alive about vocations”.
Vicar for Clergy Fr Clyde Harvey reminded the young Catholics that “priests and nuns are normal people” and so they should remember that when thinking about a vocation. Through testimonials, the young people had the opportunity to interact with members of the clergy and religious sisters in an open and informal setting. Testimonies were given by Toco/Matelot parish priest Fr Steve Ransome, Raymond Francis of the Eternal Light Community, Fr Harvey and Sr Renée Hall OP. Fr Harvey and Sr Renée did a presentation together in which they highlighted how one balanced being “human” and living in today’s world while simultaneously serving God. They spoke about their passion for dancing, which they continued to indulge after answering their call to serve.
Fr Harvey shared: “When I get on a dance floor and people see me dancing, they still come up to me and ask ‘Ent you is a priest?’” Sr Renée said, “I still go to formal dance lessons each week. I saw dance as dancing with God, dancing with life, reaching out to him (God), reaching out to people.” The entire hall cheered when the duo broke into a short dance session on stage. At the end, Fr Harvey commented, “God puts all kind of things inside of you to make you human. For us dancing is one of those things.” He went on to tell the young people they must look within themselves to find out what made them human and what they loved about being human. He added that when they found that aspect of themselves, “You have to say to yourself ‘I want to live that to the full’. One of our messages today is that what you live to the full, take it as a priest, a nun or to the service of the Church.” Speaking about what made individuals human, such as a sense of humour, anger, and understanding self, Sr Renée remarked, “Being in Confirmation class, you are learning about yourselves, you are learning, just as I am still learning about my gifts, my talents, my abilities, that can be used for the building up of God’s kingdom.”
She added that Confirmation was an opportunity for spiritual formation. “You are not at the end of your journey. You are at the beginning. Applaud yourselves for just showing up today for that is only a part of the journey, being available to God.” Raymond Francis said despite his frequent bouts of illness he always had “excitement in his heart to do work for God”. He shared that his calling to become a priest struck him during his active involvement in church. “While my brothers were playing football and liming, I was heading to my youth group meeting or helping out in some way at the church,” he recalled. Though he could not join the seminary at first because of his lack of qualifications, Francis has since completed his Bachelors of Arts in Theology at the University of the West Indies, St Augustine, and will continue his journey to the priesthood. “No matter the journey you are experiencing today or the struggles you may have, always know that God loves you and he has a plan for you.” Apart from the testimonies, past pupil of St Joseph’s Convent, St Joseph, Charnell Lucien, who has been featured on the “Free Speech Project”, gave a thought-provoking spoken word performance titled “Truth Is…” Booths were set up at the school featuring displays by the diocesan and religious orders.
At the end of the assembly, each vicariate was responsible for performing a poem, skit or song.
– Renée Smith
Fr Ransome: No straight line to vocation
The ‘S’ in Generation S is not only about Service but about understanding that finding one’s vocation in life was not always straightforward, said Toco/Matelot parish priest Fr Steve Ransome. A member of the Archdiocesan Vocations Team, he said: “The ‘S’ is not only service, but [service] in the midst of the cross. Life is not always straightforward, vocation is not always straightforward.”
At the recent Generation S Youth Assembly at Preysal High School, Couva, Fr Ransome explained the concept behind Generation S, saying the focus was on service because many priests and religious sisters and brothers “have served us, worked hard for us – some not from Trinidad and Tobago – who gave their lives for us”. He added that the Generation S logo, which was designed by Marisa Lezama, included a cross, which he likened to reaching a crossroad in life, a point of decision-making. He said most people would marry or live single lives, but some were called to be priests and religious sisters or brothers. Sharing his own journey with the youthful audience, Fr Ransome said he was born and baptised in San Juan but grew up in Maloney Gardens, where he received his First Communion and Confirmation. While he used to think about the priesthood, he had one problem: He was extremely shy.
“If I see a girl coming, I walking the next way! If a girl come and sit down next to me in church, that would be the longest Mass! Rain could be falling, the place could be cold outside, I would be sweating,” he said to the Confirmation candidates, causing much laughter. “If that’s how I was, how could I stand up in front of people and talk?” Fr Ransome said he prayed to God, asking God to tell him what he should do. He continued, “But even though I was shy I loved God and I really loved his people and I had a desire to do something for the Lord. But I didn’t know what it was.” After completing studies at university, he taught at a secondary school for a year and then came to his crossroad. He decided to enter the seminary. “I was going to just try, go in, and if it’s not for me they will kick me out, and if they kicked me out then I would look for somebody to like me!” Fr Ransome said each person was unique and “because you are unique, you can never be like that priest or sister. God doesn’t want you to be exactly like that priest or sister. God will use you to give him glory”. He described married life and single life as beautiful vocations, “But if I am called to religious life, Lord give me the grace to answer…” He ended by telling the young people that while the journey to vocation would not be straightforward – and there would be struggles, including opposition, “I promise you, you will enjoy it. God will surprise you, there will never be a dull moment and I promise you, you never will regret it.”
– Raymond Syms, Associate Editor