Caribbean Catholics gather - Catholic Courier

Caribbean Catholics gather

As Norma Thom looked around at familiar faces of Caribbean bishops, priests, and men and women religious during the first national convention of Caribbean Catholics in Arlington, Va., in August 2005, she began to feel like she was back in her native Trinidad and Tobago.

“It was a nice experience, especially seeing the bishops from the Caribbean. “It felt like you were home,” said Thom, formerly a school teacher in Trinidad who left in 1971 to join her husband in the U.S. Now retired, she worked for 29 years at Eastman Kodak Co.

But this weekend Thom, a parishioner of Rochester’s Immaculate Conception Church, will be able to get that feeling of being home twice over, as Caribbean Catholics travel to Rochester for their second national convention, “Call and Response,” which is presented by the Caribbean Catholics of North America. The convention will take place from Friday to Sunday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rochester.

The conference’s workshops include: “A Sword Pierces Our Hearts: Caribbean Women’s Spirituality in a Broken World” by Anna Perkins, dean of studies and professor of social ethics at St. Michael’s Theological College, Jamaica; “A Marriage Encounter: To Love and To Cherish, with Mr. and Mrs. Donald Bridgeman; “Church and the Caribbean Male” with Trinidadian Father Clyde Harvey; “Who are My Sisters and Brothers?” with Amy Newlon, formerly the education and development coordinator in the Migration and Refugee Services, Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; and “Living in a Multicultural Society.”

The event is cosponsored by the Office for the Pastoral Care of Migrant and Refugees, the USCCB and the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother.

Friday’s events included an opening ceremony and welcome, and a reception and cultural show. Saturday will include morning prayer, two keynote addresses, two sessions of workshops, celebration of the Eucharist and a banquet with entertainment.

Sunday’s events will include morning prayer, a panel and town-hall discussion, the closing ceremony and the closing celebration of the Eucharist.

Presenters and keynote speakers include Dame C. Pearlette Louisy, governor general of St. Lucia, and Gerald Boodoo, a Trinidadian who is professor of systematic theology at Duquesne University in Pennsylvania who will speak on the convention’s “Call and Response” theme. He previously was director of faith and learning programs at Xavier University of Louisiana.

“I will very briefly look into what that call means from the community and by the community and address what specific sort of response Caribbean Catholics should have,” said Boodoo, who is a member of the Caribbean Catholics of North America board and the international committee of the World Forum on Theology and Liberation. He said he also will present some recent perspectives from the Caribbean Catholic Theological Society, of which he is a member.

The event also will include the presence of several Rochesterians, including a cultural show featuring Alfred St. John’s Trinidad & Tobago Steel Band.

Thom, who served as president of Rochester’s West Indian Festival Organization for six years, said she may be making some welcoming remarks to the gathering in Rochester and may have other roles behind the scenes. Thom said she hopes the event will help raise awareness of the local West Indian Catholic community; many parishioners are scattered among the various parishes in the diocese and unite annually for the diocese’s annual Caribbean Mass.

“We have a lot of West Indian people, but we don’t have a big West Indian Catholic community,” Thom said.

Eleven sites to see while in Rochester

* Check out what is for sale from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Public Market, 280 N. Union St. (free, 585-428-6907,

* Get schooled on Rochester’s history at the Center at High Falls Visitor Center, 60 Browns Race (free, 585-325-2030,

* See 180 international dolls in the “Secret Room” at the Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County, in the Children’s Center on the second floor of the Bausch and Lomb Public Library Building, 115 South Ave. (free, 585-428-8150,

* Find out more about women’s history at the Susan B. Anthony House, 17 Madison St. ($6 adults, 585-235-6124,

* View the 2007 Rochester-Finger Lakes Exhibition at the Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave. ($7 adults, 585-276-8900,

* See the new elephant exhibit at Seneca Park Zoo, 2222 St. Paul St. ($8 adults, 585-336-7200,

* Get up close with butterflies and top toys at the Strong National Museum of Play, One Manhattan Square, Rochester. ($9 adults; butterfly garden an added $3, 585-263-2700,

* Learn about abolitionist Frederick Douglass at the Rochester Museum and Science Center, 657 East Ave. ($9 adults, 585-697-1942,

* View “Ansel Adams: Celebration of Genius” at George Eastman House, 900 East Ave. ($12 adults, 585-271-3361,

* Catch live music, food and hand-crafted beers at the Flour City Brewer’s Fest from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday at Frontier Field, 1 Morrie Silver Way. ($25 for beer drinkers, $5 for nondrinkers, 585-594-9800,

* Watch “Menopause the Musical” at Geva Theatre Center, 75 Woodbury Blvd. ($44 or $49 adults, 585-232-1366,

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