Thursday, 29 April 2010

The Latin Plaques

On either side of the entrance of our Cathedral, (right after the window) there are marble plaques with words written in latin. Well according to an historic book on the Cathedral below is the English translation (I don't see some of it though):

“This church is Dedicated to God in honour of the Immaculate conception of the Mother of God. It’s foundation stone was laid in a sacred ceremony on 24th March 1816. It was solemnly consecrated by Archbishop Richard Patrick Smith on 23rd February 1851. A Papal rescript fixed the 9th of November as it’s anniversary day. It’s Marble Altar was solemnly consecrated by Archbishop Vincent Spaccapietra on 1st February 1857. It was built by collections from the faithful and contributions from all the citizens . This Commemorative plaque was placed, lest the memory of such great devotion should be lost.”

“In his esteem for this town of Port of Spain in the West Indies, the supreme pontiff Pius IX conferred on it the dignity of Archiepiscopal See when he established the diocese of Roseau in Dominica as it’s suffrage See. This church, in honour of the virgin’s Immaculate Conception, was raised to the dignity of Basilica Minor with all the rights and privileges attached thereto. Here can be gained the indulgences granted to Saint Mary’s Major in Rome. Expressing the desire of all the faithful, Archbishop Vincent Spaccapietra placed this plaque in Commemoration of these great favours.”

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Fatima Boys come answer to your call

My Alma Mater is in the news. Not in a positive way though. While I was a student at Fatima College all I wanted to do was leave. I didn't like it. Now, I remember fondly those school days.

The current Principal is also a Fatima "Ole Boy" and a Priest. Perhaps that is why he responded to the press in the way that he did when it was discovered that two boys recorded themselves having some sort of sex in the school toilet with their cell phones on April 13th.

He spoke well. However he could not comment too much since they were minors and the matter was being handled by the Ministry of Education. I for my part would like to denounce the act. The official word is that they were experimenting. Well maybe they were... but it needs to be denounced.

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin. These boys are going to be rediculed and attacked by their peers. As a former ole boy I can tell you that the innocent pay for the guilty. Just being a student at Fatima College is reason enough for the ignorant to accuse you of being a "homo".

I am sorry for these boys. I am sorry for their parents. Still I wish someone from the church and the school would denounce the act. The former principal said soemthing, and I am still not sure it was a condemnation.

I am proud to be a Fatima Ole Boy! and just for the heck of it.. here's our school song:

Fatima Boys,
Come answer to the call,
From far and wide.
Shoulder to shoulder,
Ever marching on,
God be our guide.
Fearless and true,
Loyal to You.
O Alma Mater,
Firmly One.
Strive On Fatima Boys,
Strive On!

Sunday, 25 April 2010

O God of Earth and Altar

Yesterday I was listening to a Ave Maria Radio. Following Midday Mass there was a talk show that was so very interesting. I have 2 websites to research, thanks to the discussion. One is and the other is The two priests talked about a fascinating woman called Bella Dodd and her orchestration of the communist infiltration of the Catholic Church in America. This same infiltration also occurred in soviet controlled countries.

What gave me a kick was a poem that was read that was written by GK Chesterton called “O God of Earth and Altar” . This poem made it’s way into the English Hymnal. I never heard it as a hymn, but I do know the first verse of the Song. It was used as the first verse of the Song “Revelations” from Iron maiden off their 1983 album “Piece of Mind”.

What a Riot!

Here is the Chesterton poem in it’s entirety:

O God of earth and altar,
Bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter,
Our people drift and die
The walls of gold entomb us,
The swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us,
But take away our pride.

From all that terror teaches,
From lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches
That comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation,
Of honour and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord!

Tie in a living tether
The prince and priest and thrall,
Bind all our lives together,
Smite us and save us all;
In ire and exultation
Aflame with faith, and free,
Lift up a living nation,
A single sword to thee.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Former child lover of Rocker talks about protecting teenage girls from predators

Are the rolling stones great rockers or just a rock and roll cliche. I am writting about the stones beacuse of a news article that I read today. It is a terrible thing about a member of the rolling stones having gone out with a FOURTEEN year old girl, whom he later married. Mandy Smith, who was married to bassman Bill Wyman.

Mandy believes that the age of consent should be "raised to 18 in order to protect young girls, who are emotionally vulnerable when it comes to sexual relationships at that age." Mandy says that the relationship "stole away a childhood she could never get back.”

Here's the rest of the Article from Lifesite written by Peter J Smith

LONDON, April 20, 2010 ( – Mandy Smith, the former child-lover and later wife of Rolling Stone bassist Bill Wyman, believes that the age of consent should be raised to 18 in order to protect young girls, who are emotionally vulnerable when it comes to sexual relationships at that age. In an interview with the UK’s Daily Mail, Smith said that she had slept with the much older Wyman when she was 14 years old, beginning a relationship that stole away a childhood she “could never get back.”

Smith, 39, revealed to the Mail that she has come a long way from being the Wild Child on London’s celebrity scene in the 1980s to a woman who is now single, celibate, and living out a revived Catholic faith, mentoring young girls, and involving herself in charitable work.

But the experience of her child sexual relationship with Rolling Stone Wyman, 34 years her senior, taught her that teenage girls are not emotionally equipped for sex by the age of 16.

“It’s not about being physically mature. It’s emotional maturity that matters,” Smith told the Mail.

“I don’t think most 16-year-olds are ready. I think the age of consent should be raised to 18 at a minimum, and some girls aren’t even ready then,” she said. “People will find that odd coming from me. But I think I do know what I’m talking about here. You are still a child – even at 16.”

“You can never get that part of your life, your childhood, back. I never could.”

Smith revealed that her father had been absent in her family’s life since she was three, and her mother was perennially ill around the time she met Wyman. The rocker had met her at a club where Smith and her sister Nicola, both teenagers, would party and try to dress and act twice their age.

Smith said she saw Wyman in part as filling the void of a father figure in her life. They began dating when she was 13, and revealed publicly for the first time to the Mail that Wyman had criminal intercourse with her when she was 14. When Smith reached the age of consent at 16, their relationship became public; by 18 she and Wyman married, and two years later the relationship ended in a bitter divorce.

Looking back on her past, she said that she believed Wyman never “would have made a move if my dad had been around.”

But her biggest concern is for teenage girls she sees today being caught up in a highly sexualized culture and its expectations.

“My concern is that everything – clothes, films, talk – is so sexualised. The girls I talk to are under pressure to be a certain way,” said Smith. “They think they should be having sex, living a certain life. I try to say to them: ‘Hold on. You don’t have to do this.’”

Smith is the mother of nine-year-old son, Max, from a brief relationship with model Ian Mosby. She says she rediscovered her faith in 2005 and tells the Mail that “God is the only man in my life now.”

“The great thing about the Church is that you can go back. It's never too late,” she said, adding that it was a note from one of the nuns who taught her in school that helped bring her back.

“She said that Jesus does not look at mistakes I had made, or the times I had ignored him. Until then, I'd felt a terrible guilt about the life I'd led,” added Smith. “I realised that there was another way.”

Parliament first established the age of consent in the UK at 13 years in 1875 in response to concerns that young girls were being exploited for prostitution. The age of consent was amended to 16 years in 1885 under the Criminal Amendment Act.

But in the United Kingdom recently the tendency has been to lower the age of consent. A furor erupted two years ago when Parliament passed a bill requiring Northern Ireland to lower its age of consent from 17 years to 16 years under the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008, to be in conformity with the rest of the kingdom.

Members of Northern Ireland's Legislative Assembly accused London of acting with "contempt for democracy" by pushing through the measure despite their opposition. MLAs warned that the change would encourage sexual predators from the Republic of Ireland, where the age of consent remains at 17, to go north in search of younger victims.

Belfast's Rape Crisis Centre also objected to the change, saying the new law would make it more difficult for them to protect vulnerable girls from sexual predators.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Vote to abandon the existing Cathedral

Today at Mass at the Cathedral, we the Parishioners voted to decide if we should renovate the building or build another Cathedral somewhere else. The truth is that the building needs to be renovated every 40 years or so. However it is part of the History of Trinidad and the Catholic Church in Trinidad. Below is the questionaire that we were asked to full out and on which we voted on today.

1. Vote yes or no to questions a to d

a.Restoring/ Renovating and Continue to use the Cathedral of the
Immaculate Conception, which is a Minor Bascilica as the
Cathedral of the Archdiocese in it’s present place.
b.Obtaining land in a more central place in the Archdiocese
which is separated from the business Section, eg in the
central Vicariate, with a view to building a Cathedral Complex.
ie a modern Cathedral, A catholic Administration center
with facilities for large Archdiocesan meetings
c.Building a modern cathedral in the Parking Lot near the present
Cathedral and using the present Cathedral for other Purposes.
d.For the Amount of Financing presently being discussed should
we build a modern Cathedral and use the Present Cathedral with
only the necessary repairs as a parish Church.

2.Do we understand that in choosing one of the options above
and due to the financing presently being projected
(30-40 million) this project must be approached in phases
and will take a number of years to complete?
3.Do you understand that the project will require that the
archdiocese raise approximately 3.5 million a year for about 10
years in addition to funding for the ordinary annual
expenditures of the Archdiocese , it’s Parishes and Ministries.
4.Do we believe that the Archdiocese could meet this challenge?
5.Does your Parish / Religious Community, public Association of
Christ’s faithful wish to add anything as an attachment to your
response? Of so, it must be identified and signed along with
the number of people who support it.
6.Do you think, that in addition to this consultation, a one day
session of the Synod exclusively on the Cathedral be necessary?

Almost all voted to renovate the Cathedral rather than build a new one.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

The stuff that dreams are made of

In 1987 Carly Simon released the Album “Coming around again”. Track 6 is a very interesting song called “The stuff that dreams are made of”. It’s about someone thinking about a dream-like life of jet setting and partying. Not realising that her life IS the stuff that dreams are made of.

Every so often, between the bills and screaming children, I have to stop so that I can remember this IS the stuff that dreams are made of. There are those who would love to have a family and a spouse but just can’t find the right person (or make themselves the right person). They want children too. … or do they?

Thank you Lord for the wonderful blessing of Family and Love.


So what's this about your best friend?
She's got a brand new shiny boy
And they're moving out to Malibu,
To play with all his pretty toys
And you feel closed in by the same four walls,
The same old conversation
With the same old guy you've know for years,
But use your imagination
And you will see....

It's the stuff that dreams are made of,
It's the slow and steady fire
It's the stuff that dreams are made of,
It's your heart and soul's desire
It's the stuff that dreams are made of

What if the Prince on the horse in your fairytale,
Is right here in disguise
And what if the stars you've been reaching so high for,
Are shining in his eyes
Don't look at yourself in the same old way,
Take another picture
Shoot the stars off in your own backyard,
Don't look any further
And you will see

It's the stuff that dreams are made of....

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Journey with God brother Dog

Today I got hate mail. The coward sent a letter to me without signing it. A game they think. A power trip perhaps. Attacking me and my faith. Unfortunately I could not respond to the character because in their ramble I was not quite sure they had a point. This issue was overshadowed by a rough work day and upset children. They were alot better today than yesterday though. Yesterday we lost Percy.

Who is Percy you might ask? Well I'm glad you did. Percy was a stray dog that wandered into our yard and decided to stay. He was named Percy by the children. Although they would not touch the dog with the huge scar on the side of his face, they applauded his persistence - hence the name Percy!

Percy just wanted love and would often come up for a scratch. He was friendly and most determined that he was one of our family. This irritated the incumbent, Precious, who would get fighting mad, but would not actually attack Percy.

Well, Percy was ill. He never quite made it. Yesterday morning when we left for work and school he was breathing in short breaths. He did not look good. We left him in good hands - My Mummy. She brought back many strays from deaths door, into beautiful, strong courageous and extremely protective characters. And to seal the deal we asked Saint Francis to help brother Percy get well. So we did not expect what we found yesterday evening. It looked like he just collapsed as he tried to walk over the root of the avocado tree. Poor Dog!

We love you Percy even if we knew you for such a short time.

Getting rid of the body was a traumatic thing for the children. Garbage bins don't allow for much closure, and while acceptable for Hamsters don't really cut it for dogs. Sorry ole boy.

I will end this post with a poem by the late funny Poet Ogden Nash: The Dog

The truth I do not stretch or shove
When I state that the dog is full of love.
I've also found, by actual test,
A wet dog is the lovingest.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The city grows around it

The breath of the city of Port of Spain is the Brian Lara Promenade. The green strip runs from the Waterfront project, formally the Port of Port of Spain, and ends at the Catholic Cathedral. Along this strip tall buildings are going up. Still, the Cathedral stands as a Giant in the hearts of many.

Monday, 12 April 2010

The Cathedral - A short History

The Cathedral - A short History

1781 – A church is built on the site that is now called Tamarind Square. It was 80 feet by 48 feet and had a capacity for 500 people. It was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception.

1808 –Fire burns down city of Port of Spain (412 houses are destroyed including Trinity Anglican Church). Church of Immaculate Conception is not damaged.

1814 –The Vicar Apostolic Don Joaquim de Aristimuno discusses with the Colonial Governor Sir Ralph Woodford the need for a new Catholic Church in the Capital. The Governor draws plans for new church and sends a report to the Secretary of the Colonies. He decrees that all debts to the Catholic church be paid no later than three months from the decreed date.

1816 (march 24) – Foundation stone laid for New Cathedral by English (Anglican) Governor Sir Ralph Woodford. The Colonial Government gives 16,000 pounds sterling at the time for the construction of a new Catholic Church. The site given for construction is the most eastern part of the “plaza de Armes” (where the troops were drilled), now called the Brian Lara promenade.

1823 – After a stoppage of work for 18 months due to lack of funds, Pope Leo XII sends money to continue construction of new Building.

1825 (Sept 20) – original tower (there was but one)  damaged by an Earthquake while under construction. – It was rebuilt.

1826 – Colonial Government gives 2,500 pounds sterling to install the roof of the building.

1830 – The Nave of the church is dedicated.

1832 (April 15) – After 16 years the church is completed. It is blessed by Bishop Daniel McDonnell. 1200 People attend Mass that day.

1849 – The final debt of the church is paid off (1,500 pounds sterling) by Parish Priest Richard Patrick Smith. With all outstanding monies paid the building can now be consecrated. He describes the building as “a magnificent edifice” of which “the type is second order Gothic”

1850 (April 30) – Richard Patrick Smith elevated to Archbishop. Port of Spain Elevated to Archdiocese status, Church of the Immaculate Conception elevated to Cathedral.

1850 (Aug 5) – a Memorial Cross is carried in Procession from the Cathedral to the top of Laventille Hill in a solemn procession and planted by Archbishop Richard Patrick Smith. He declares the area to be a high place for Marian Devotion. Later a Sanctuary would be erected there. Also a Statue would be erected with the inscription “Posuerunt me custodem” (They have made me their Guardian).

1851 (Feb 23) – Cathedral consecrated by Archbishop Richard Patrick Smith

1851 – Pope Pius IX declares the Cathedral to rank the status of Minor Basilica and to enjoy the privileges of the Major Basilica of Saint Mary Major in Rome.

1857 (Feb 1) – Marble Altar consecrated by Archbishop Vincent Spaccapietra

1863 (July 10) – Building was damaged by an Earthquake

1879 – Clock (with three dials) added to fa├žade

1897 – Major Renovations done to Entire Building, entire roof replaced and the whole Nave was restored, Circular Windows were put on Pivots to open and close for Ventilation purposes. Around this time, the entire building is enclosed by a wrought –iron railing and the frontage is made into a flower garden.

1913 – Original Pipe Organ is replaced by another made by Walker and Sons of London. This too would be replaced.

1925 (may 25) – New Clock installed by English Firm

1950 – The Archdiocese celebrates 100 years with a Holy Year of Jubilee.

1954 (Dec) – Building once more damaged by Earthquake

1962 – Extensive Renovations done (2 years in completion)

1966 – According to instructions set forth in the second Vatican Council the Florentine statuary marble High Alter is taken down. It is moved to the Northern side of the Church and is still there. The communion rails are taken down and part is installed in the newly placed altar on the northern side of the church. A new Marble Altar is installed.

- The Cathedral has had another Renovation since, and is due for another now.

The above will be printed in the Cathedral Newsletter for April 18th 2010.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Saturday, 10 April 2010

bring your poor ... if you have 'em.

At the last census we discovered that approximately 60,000 Catholics attend Mass regularly. This they say is about 17% of those who claim to be catholic. Which is about 26% of the population of this beautiful twin island republic.

Some time ago in Rosary Monastery I was fortunate to hear a homily by the nuncio. It was so interesting. He was talking about the reason for the church numbers being so low. He seemed to think that it was not because people were leaving the church, but because people just became indifferent: What does Church Mean? What has God done for me? I'll think about church when I get older and am closer to dying.

Indifference to God comes about because of distraction. There are so many things to do. Even maintaining friendships can be a job. How can I find time to be strengthened by the word.

Those with wants seek God. They make time for Him.

Education is an interesting thing. It is the cause for this indifference. We earn more money, we afford more distractions. Thanks for Education.

In my discussions with another priest this week he noted something similar. Former Archbishop Finbar Ryan said that we must educate the faithful. Now we have an educated people. These educated people look for life outside of Trinidad and Tobago. Those who are not distracted by their earnings have become greater givers. That is to say that while there are fewer people attending mass regularly, these who attend, give more. Some even tithe.

So while we do have poor. We have more middle class people attending the church - or maybe middle class in their thinking.

What a thing!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Neal McDonough: Actor, Father, Husband, Catholic... Fired!

Here is a great story from Lifesite News. It is good to know that there are faithful catholics who are also actors and who try to live out their career with good morals... even if it costs them a Million Dollars.

Actor Neal McDonough Sacked for Refusing Sex Scene
By Kathleen Gilbert

HOLLYWOOD, California, April 6, 2010 ( - Sticking to his principles as a Christian and a family man, Hollywood actor Neal McDonough has been fired from a spot in a television series because he refuses to perform explicit sex scenes.

ABC sacked McDonough only three days into filming, according to an industry source cited on Hollywood columnist Nikki Finke's blog,, for declining to perform the scenes with co-star Virginia Madsen on the network's new series "Scoundrels." ABC officially said the decision was a simple casting change.

McDonough, a Catholic who is married with three young children, also refused to act out passionate scenes with actress Nicolette Sheridan when he played the role of her husband in season 5 of the popular ABC series "Desperate Housewives." He reportedly turned down similar scenes in NBC's "Boomtown" as well.

"It has cost him jobs, but the man is sticking to his principles," the source told, which also reported the role may have been worth as much as $1 million.

Reportedly, a source from the "Scoundrel's" wrote on Finke's blog that, "It wasn't just 'heated love scenes' - he wouldn't do any kissing whatsoever."

McDonough was replaced for the "Scoundrels" role by actor David James Elliott.

In addition to television series, McDonough has acted in several movies, including Band of Brothers, Star Trek: First Contact, Minority Report and The Hitcher.

Here is a short Biography of the guy from Wikipedia.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Who are these people that want to Storm Heaven?

Here is a wonderful poem that my cousin sent to me... that he received through email.

I was shocked, confused, bewildered
As I entered Heaven's door,
Not by the beauty of it all,
Nor the lights or its decor.

But it was the folks in Heaven
Who made me sputter and gasp--
The thieves, the liars, the sinners,
The alcoholics and the trash.

There stood the kid from seventh grade
Who swiped my lunch money twice.
Next to him was my old neighbor
Who never said anything nice.

Herb, who I always thought
Was rotting away in hell,
Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,
Looking incredibly well..

I nudged Jesus, 'What's the deal?
I would love to hear Your take.
How'd all these sinners get up here?
God must've made a mistake.

'And why is everyone so quiet,
So somber - give me a clue.'
'Hush, child,' He said, 'they're all in shock.
No one thought they'd be seeing you.'


Remember...Just going to church doesn't make you a
Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.

Every saint has a PAST...
Every sinner has a FUTURE!

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Today I am sad!

Having read the article in the Sunday Express of today's date (linked). I have been left saddened. The Article Headline says that "Parishioners to be Consulted on renovation of Cathedral" I think it should have said "Trinidadian Catholics to meet to decide fate of Historic Building in Port of Spain". I am saddened because I believe that I do not have a say in what happens to the Cathedral. Would there be a group to stand up for the Cathedral in the Synod? I Hope So.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

He is Risen!

So it is Easter. Lent is behind us. We took our ashes on Ash Wednesday and we moved through lent. Some of us made larger sacrifices than usual, while some of us gave up very little. My son gave up the X-Box game. That lasted one week. My wife gave up a series of things. The thing most frequently given up by ladies for lent is chocolate. She gave that up too. Typically men don’t. I didn’t… and I let her know that every time I had a piece, which I took great pains to eat in front of her.

Some time ago our family started a tradition on saying a decade of the Rosary every evening of lent after reading and discussing the days Gospel. At the end of every reading I would ask “And where do we see God’s love in this reading?” Sometimes it was very obvious and there were a multitude of answers and sometimes it was not so obvious to them. It is important as parents to bring our children up in the faith and let them know the truth of our faith that they may not be seduced by others who seek to discredit Catholics.

I don’t worry so much about my childrens prayer life. Sister Stephanie (their school principal) does a great job of ensuring that they are well rounded. Not just academically but also Spiritually. I always believe that the best school is a Catholic School. Did you know that the despite all that we hear about people leaving the church, that the Catholic church keeps growing. Look it up. Don’t take my word for it. Did you know that many of the Universities in Europe were founded by the church? Did you know that 25% of the worlds hospitals are run by the Catholic Church? We do a lot of charity. We pray a lot. And the World is a better place because of Holy Mother Church.

For lent many of us increased our prayer life: We went to weekday masses, confession, stations of the cross; we fasted and gave charity or did good works; or maybe we just made extra time for God. In this busy world, it is not easy to find time for anything.

But no matter what we must find time for Jesus this weekend. THIS IS EASTER MAN! This is what our faith is based on - Jesus Died and Rose from the dead. Every Sunday is a little Easter: a small celebration of this Sunday. His birth is incidental to His Death. While it is important (He could not die if he wasn’t born), Easter overshadows Christmas. Yet so many people focus on Christmas. I love the saying from the late Great Pope John Paul II –

“Do not abandon yourself to despair.”
“We are the Easter People and Hallelujah is our song”

So whether you are beating a Good Friday bobolee, avoiding a river/sea bath, eating plenty fish and provision, cracking an egg in the sun (remember that foolishness is not Christian), flying a kite or making up for your lent by eating plenty Easter Eggs and Peeps, remember your faith and sing joyously your Hallelujah for CHRIST IS RISEN!

Friday, 2 April 2010

We adore thee O Christ

We adore Thee,
O Christ,
and bless Thee.
by Thy holy cross
Thou hast
redeemed the world.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

It's Like Christmas but not

I feel a sense of happiness tonight. It like a feeling that you get when you've finished your shopping and cleaning for Christmas and you settle into a sound religious groove. Yes God! I am ready to welcome you. Accept me into your love. There is that feeling of Anticipation. It's happening soon.

Even on the Television. Not that it is a religiously acceptable show, but there was Jesus Christ Superstar on TV the other night. Tonight there are two versions of the life of Christ showing. There is also a marathon about another guy who had a virgin birth... Darth Vader. But I digress

Tomorrow my daughter and I will go to Farmers Supermarket... early. They open at 8am. I forgot to get eggs for Sunday Morning... and since she is into the Easter Bunny She is his newest helper. So after breakfast we will say the Stations of the Cross and then we are off to shopping.

I usually don't carry my family into that hot church on a Good Friday. We pray together and that is that. We do alot together. Isn't that what family is about? I came home today to a Sedar (passover) meal... or something like it. My daughter wanted to try making it with her mother. So we had stew Lamb (instead of roasted lamb bone), boiled eggs (instead of roasted), Charoset and pita bread. Bitter herbs are not an option when I am being fed. It was a good meal. To finish such a meal there should be four glasses of red wine. I think I'll have a scotch instead... or maybe a ponche-a-creme... you know... just like it's Christmas... only not!