Pope’s ambassador here to recharge spirituality

POSTED: 11/12/12 1:29 PM

St. Maarten – Vatican Ambassador to the Caribbean Region and Apostolic Nuncio in the Dutch Caribbean, Archbishop Nicola Girasoli has summed up his visit to St. Maarten, thus far as “very beautiful, excellent and surprising.” His visit to the island has been symbolized by the blessing of the new St. Martin of Tours statue but he believes that his mission here is to strengthen the unification of Christians and also minister to those in need.

“It is a great joy to share with you on this beautiful island on this feast of St. Martin. A statute is a sign that lets us know who we are and to whom we belong,” the Archbishop said at a special press conference that was called by the Catholic Church on Saturday afternoon.

He said that he follows very closely the activities of the church but also the social development of the region.

“I want to know what the realities of this island are. It is a beautiful place but there are people here living everyday who face challenges so it is an occasion for me to get closer to the people.”

Unity is the ministry of the Pope’s representative and to maintain diplomatic relations with 192 states throughout the world.

“The visit of a representative of the Pope is to give to the people encouragement and recharge spiritually and to underline the unity of the church. A representative of the Pope is a sign of unity between the Holy See of Rome and all the catholic churches around the world. My mission is to strengthen this unity, the Archbishop added.

Before Saturday’s press conference, he was met at the airport by Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, Bishop of Willemstad Luigi Antonio Secco and two parish priests. He was then presented with bouquets of flowers by two young women and left the Princess Juliana International Airport via a motorcade.

“I was amazed as a pastor that our people were so excited. Certainly the rest of the island has been very responsive…even with our challenges and negatives, as a society we can pull together, look for common ground and rejoice in unity,” parish priest Father Robert Bob Johnson said.

During mass at the St. Martin of Tours Roman Catholic Church on Front Street yesterday, the Archbishop underlined the importance of the life of island’s patron saint.

“He lived in the 4th century but his example is still very valid today especially as it relates to us as Christians being very committed to the social aspects of society to share our lives with those who are in need, those who are voiceless,” he said.

Archbishop Girasoli is usually referred to as an Apostolic Nuncio (delegate) within the Dutch Caribbean because none of the islands are independent. He arrived in the Caribbean earlier this year and was previously posted in Africa.

Apart from mass yesterday on both the French and Dutch sides of the island, today the Archbishop will visit the St. Maarten Home and the Sister Basilia Centre.

Tomorrow he meets with students of the oldest Catholic School on the island; St. Joseph’s and then heads to the Risen Christ Catholic Church before going to St. Dominic buy valium from thailand online Primary.

He is also expected to meet with the prime minister and the governor before leaving the island on Tuesday afternoon.

During his courtesy call to the prime minister, the Archbishop indicated that discussions could very well include the financial state of affairs on not only the St. Maarten but the wider Caribbean Region, as well. He said that he was very concerned about this and also expects a discussion on whether all faiths enjoy the freedom of religion on the island.

Throughout Saturday’s press conference reference was repeatedly made to the historic and divine nature of the Archbishop’s visit which comes at the time when both sides of the island are celebrating the friendship and peaceful coexistence of the French and Dutch.

“We could not have picked a better occasion than on St. Maarten Day to unveil this statue which was commissioned about a year ago by the parish,” public relations officer Walley Havertong said.

Though stationed in Trinidad & Tobago, the Archbishop oversees the twin island republic, as well as Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Jamaica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Guyana and Apostolic Delegate in the Antilles.

Pope Benedict XVI has also called for this year to be a year of faith. This began in October and ends on Christ the King feast in November 2013. It is being observed at a time when the Vatican Second Council is also celebrating its 50th anniversary.

“What we have noticed in many countries of the world is that there is a way that Catholics live that is not according to what they really believe. We thought that it is important for us to know more about the faith.  Many Catholics live the faith when they are very young. But they need to transmit the faith by witnessing, give a good example and show more enthusiasm towards our Apostolic dimensions,” the Archbishop said.

“We are looking to the young people,” Bishop Secco added, for them to become more missionaries and underline how do we prepare the young people for the three sacraments; baptism, Eucharist and conformation.

It is also intended to reach out to those who have abandoned the faith or only attend church during special occasions, he explained.

The new St. Martin of Tours statue was also unveiled on Sunday and blessed by the Archbishop.  “If you call yourself a St. Maartener the name doesn’t just fall out of the sky. We are named after a particular person and I think sometimes we forget that,” Father Bob stated.

He challenged the entire community to look to the island’s patron saint who was known for his compassion and generosity. “He can teach us a lot. It is more than just a statue for us but what it can symbolize for us as a people. It reminds us of what our vision is, Father Bob said.

The parishioners are very much involved in the managing of the parish. Most of them have contributed financially and in other ways in realizing the new St. Martin of Tours statue, member of the parish council, Maxime Larmonie explained.


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