by Sr Renée K Hall
Trinidad and Tobago is now the new headquarters the Dominican Sisters of St Catherine of Siena. St Dominic’s Convent in Barataria has been transformed into the Mother House of the Congregation and the historic event was celebrated last Sunday (August 28, 2011) with a Transfer Ceremony.
“From the very beginning of the Congregation, the Prioress General and her Council lived in France. All eyes were turned to France; the trends, the projects, often came from there. And now, with the transfer of the Central Government, they will come from Trinidad, to which all eyes will turn,” said Prioress General Sr Jeannette Léger.
The Ceremony of Transfer began with a solemn procession of the flags of Barbados, Canada, France and T&T. The sisters of the Congregation carried a relic of the foundress, Mother St Dominic of The Cross, and held lit candles.
It was after welcome remarks by Regional Prioress Sr Thérèse Antoine that Sr Jeannette highlighted the significance of the transfer. Sr Jeannette explained: “With the transfer, each of the sisters in Trinidad will be called upon to support the Prioress General and her Council in their task of keeping alive the charisma and the mission, which is to serve the needy and to reveal the Good News that the world might believe.”
She pointed out objects in the chapel that had been brought over from Etrépagny, France, such as the tabernacle, three statues – The Virgin and Child, St Dominic and St Catherine of Siena, a painting of Mother St Dominic of the Cross, and the Stations of the Cross.
The ceremony was followed by Mass and the liturgy incorporated readings, prayers and songs in both French and English. Chief celebrant Archbishop Edward Gilbert told the sisters “the future depends on how you live your life now”. He said, “New beginnings are not easy” and added that it was important to find “a balance between reasonable comfort and struggle” (see Archbishop’s Column).
The Archbishop’s homily was followed by intercessory prayers for the Church, the Dominican Sisters, the deceased sisters of the Congregation, the country, and all the benefactors, artists, architects and tradesmen who contributed to the project. After Mass Archbishop Gilbert and Bishop-Elect Msgr Gordon blessed the new Mother House.
In her vote of thanks, Sr Arlene Greenidge expressed gratitude to the Archbishop and concelebrating priests including Fr Daniel, representative the Apostolic Nuncio, and Bishop-Elect Monsignor Jason Gordon; French Consul Joel Ferrand; the religious brothers and sisters who attended; and all benefactors – of which special mention was made of the architects EMSAB and Jades Interior, along with Conrad and Jasmin Sabga and George Haloute and his wife for their invaluable support. She also thanked Sr Aeleen Besson, who spearheaded the project with the assistance of Ruth Rique, plus the relatives, friends and well-wishers of the Dominican Sisters who made up the small gathering.
The celebration ended with a sharing of light refreshment and lively conversation.