“Trinis really know how to celebrate.”Bishop Francis Alleyne of the diocese of Georgetown, Guyana – one of five T&T bishops present – effectively summed up for many the mood at last week Saturday’s Mass of Episcopal ordination for Vicar General Msgr Robert Llanos, now the Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Port of Spain.
That mood was distinctly enhanced by the well-rehearsed choir and music ministry conducted by Winston Garcia. Many could be seen tapping their feet or nodding their heads to the varied rhythms, from the purely African to East Indian and Caribbean influences. The choir comprised members of Jubilee Singers, People of Praise, Living Water Community and GRACE.
More than ten current and former bishops of Antilles Episcopal Conference territories were present, as well as Papal Nuncio Archbishop Nicola Girasoli. Two bishops of other Christian Churches participated in the entrance procession: Abuna Thaddeus, Archbishop for the Caribbean and Latin America in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, and local Anglican Bishop Claude Berkley.
Flanked by co-consecrators Bishop Alleyne and fellow Trinidad-born Bishop Jason Gordon, principal consecrator Archbishop Joseph Harris sat and read his prepared homily (on the archdiocesan website). Archbishop Harris said the appointment was a sign of growth for the local Church and the importance the Pope attached to this archdiocese. He urged the Bishop-elect to become another Christ not only to the faithful, but also to the nation as a whole: “Another Christ who loves all, who goes out in search of the lost sheep, another Christ who loves not only the poor and sick but everyone, even those that some may think beyond redemption; another Christ who pays special attention to those who doubt, to those who have lost their way; another Christ who pays special attention to the young; another Christ who loves and respects and supports clergy and religious and who by his example calls others and animates others to join with him in this great enterprise.”
The Archbishop called on clergy, religious and laity to continue supporting the new bishop as they both work “to build the civilisation of love, here in our land, so scarred by that ever-increasing murder rate and violent crime.”At the start of the special liturgy, Arima parish priest Msgr Allan Ventour welcomed the bishops and other invited guests. Head of State President Anthony TA Carmona, President of the Senate Timothy Hamel-Smith and former First Lady Zalayhar Hassanali all occupied a front pew.
Other invitees were President of the Inter Religious Organisation Bro Harrypersad Maharaj; Archbishop Barbara Gray-Burke of the Spiritual Shouter Baptist Church; Caribbean Conference of Churches’ general secretary Gerard Granado, and Panama-born, Trinidad-based Rev Dr Lesley Anderson, superintendent minister of the Methodist Church and chair of the CCC Praesidium; and from the diplomatic corps, Argentinian Ambassador Marcelo Salviolo and his wife Cecelia Ines Slamon.
On the other side of the aisle sat the Bishop-elect’s siblings – older brother Bryan and younger brother Bernard, older sisters Reina Narine and Mariella Bailey, and younger sister Ann Marie Delzin. Ann Marie and husband Gregory did the readings, while Rev Patrick Laurence proclaimed the Gospel. After the Gospel, Vicar for Clergy Fr Clyde Harvey showed and then read the papal bull, or apostolic letter from Pope Francis announcing Msgr Llanos as auxiliary.
The rite of ordination began after the homily with the Examination of the candidate and Litany of the Saints, during which Msgr Llanos lay prostrate on a carpet placed before the consecrators and the altar. This was followed by the laying on of hands by the bishops; the holding of an open Book of Gospels above Msgr Llanos’ head by deacons Reverends Michael Smith and Malcom Joab; the anointing; the presentation of the Book of Gospels; and the investiture with the ring, mitre and pastoral staff. The rite ended with a Sign of Peace, a welcoming hug from Archbishop Harris, and fraternal embraces from his new brother bishops. He was then presented to the congregation as the archdiocese’s new auxiliary bishop. The Mass continued with the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
Before the dismissal, Archbishop Girasoli, Bishop Alleyne and Bishop Llanos addressed the congregation.Bishop Llanos, who will celebrate his first Mass as bishop on Tuesday at the Pro Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in San Fernando at 10 a.m., thanked God and everyone for their presence at his ordination: “Every one of you, in sometimes small ways and at other times significant ways, have contributed to my spiritual journey and priestly vocation which have brought me to this moment. This for me is Church and I thank each and every one of you from the depths of my heart.” Among those he thanked specifically was the choir.
The celebration continued with refreshments outside the parish hall, and a luncheon for specially invited guests at Fatima College Hall.