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A Lenten pilgrimage to five churches

BY ANGELA PIDDUCK Thursday, March 18 2010

click on pic to zoom in
 Brother Jerome welcomes pilgrims to St Francis of Assisi RC in Erin....
Brother Jerome welcomes pilgrims to St Francis of Assisi RC in Erin....

WHAT A wonderful way to spend a Sunday in the season of Lent — Michael Perkins’ Liberation Pilgrimage to five churches in the deep south. The 32nd such pilgrimage since Perkins started in May 2002.

The weather was perfect, unlike the last occasion when it rained cats and dogs for the entire day and well into the night. We left Port-of-Spain on five air-conditioned PTSC buses accompanied by police outriders and made our way to Our Lady of Assumption Roman Catholic Church in South Oropouche. Father Rupert Henry is the parish priest but one hardly ever meets the priest as Sundays, particularly in Lent, are extremely busy days, so Perkins led the pilgrims in prayer and song, accompanied by guitarist Larry Edghill, a Caribbean Airlines captain who had come in from a Toronto flight earlier the same morning.

Perkins said: “Through the years many pilgrims have gotten answers, many have received good things, and many have done things they thought they would never be able to do with God’s strength.”

He offered special prayers in the Year of Priests for those in vocations, and religious orders, such as nuns, and stressed that “there is a very serious need for priests”. Ironically, six nuns from the Missionaries of Charity in Laventille, joined the pilgrimage, including their Mother Superior General, who was visiting from Sweden, and left on Monday to visit the sisters in Guyana..

We then continued to St Francis of Assisi RC in Erin, picturesquely situated at the top of a hill, where we were welcomed by Brother Jerome. Father Roger Pascall is parish priest there. By the end of this visit, pilgrims were delving into picnic baskets for their midday meal which was eaten on the way to the well-known La Divina Pastora church in Siparia where Father Martin Sirju is priest. The pilgrims could be heard discussing the “Siparia Mai” story and most of them made sure to light candles at the altar in front of the statue of La Divina Pastora.

St Martin de Porres at Morne Diable, where Father David Khan is priest, was being visited for the first time. The final stop was St Dominic’s in Penal, where Perkins thanked all those who kept the churches open and waited on the pilgrims when we were running late. Managing five busloads of more than 200 persons makes it a bit difficult to arrive at each church at the prescribed time. There can be no degree of certainty for the arrival time as pilgrims must line up to use bathrooms, of which there are usually only two, and some need extra time for special prayers.

Perkins, who is also involved in organising overseas pilgrimages, plans the next Liberation Pilgrimage on June 27 to five churches — San Rafael RC on Tumpuna Road, Arima; Uganda Martyrs in Longdenville, Chaguanas; Our Lady of Mt Carmel RC at Carapichaima; St Joseph RC in St Mary’s Village, Moruga and St Vincent Ferrer RC in Gran Chemin Village, Moruga.

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