ROCHESTER — The sweltering heat and the pouring rain didn’t deter people from seeking out a taste of the Caribbean at St. Monica’s Church June 12 at the 15th annual Diocesan Caribbean Mass.
“I don’t know if I want to thank you for bringing the tropical weather,” Sister of St. Joseph Sue Hoffman said with a smile as she welcomed people to the church.
Sister Hoffman is pastoral administrator of the Roman Catholic Community of the 19th Ward, which comprises St. Monica’s, St. Augustine’s, Our Lady of Good Counsel and Emmanuel Church of the Deaf. Sister Hoffman said the community tries to celebrate the different cultures of its parishioners by presenting its own special Masses and events — such as the Portuguese Catholic community’s annual Fatima procession — as well as by hosting such events as the Diocesan Caribbean Mass.
“We all learn from so many cultures,” she said. “We’re a global church, but so often we focus on my church, and my community. This is a great learning experience.”
The Caribbean Mass began with a procession of children, who waved the colorful flags of various Caribbean nations as they processed to the altar past brightly colored banners that hung from the church’s pillars. Special music was presented by Atherley and Laura Nicholas of GRACE Music Ministry from Trinidad, West Indies, and members of the Immaculate Conception Dancers performed before the presentation of the gifts.
“We dance at this every year, and at different church events,” said Ashley Brass, a member of the Immaculate Conception Liturgical Dancers.
It’s not just dancing, it’s a prayer,” said Leslie Pierre-Philippe, who also dances with the group.
Father Urban Hudlin, a Dominican priest from Trinidad, celebrated the Mass. He also presented a first-ever retreat in connection with the Mass. The theme for the retreat, which was held June 8-11, was reconciliation. Father Hudlin said 35 people attended.
Mark Robbins, a third-year candidate for the permanent diaconate, was one of the attendees.
“The community was small, but it represented the community of God,” he said.
Robbins called Father Hudlin “wonderful, charismatic and full of the spirit.”
“Just listening to him so elegantly speak the word of God inspired me to want to get up there with him,” he said.
Father Mike Upson, director of the diocesan Office of Black Ministry and coordinator of the Caribbean Mass, asked Father Hudlin to return next year to give another retreat.
“(He’s) brought a wonderful spirit to Rochester,” Father Upson said.
Toward the conclusion of the Mass, Father Upson presented a plaque to Daphne Glasgow in honor of her husband, Deacon Joseph Fitzherbert Glasgow Sr., who died in December 2004. Deacon Glasgow was active in ministering to Caribbean Catholics in the diocese and played an important role in helping to organize the Caribbean Mass over the years.
“I didn’t know (about the plaque), it was a surprise to me,” said Daphne Glasgow, who also received a bouquet of yellow roses.
After Mass, and after the rain stopped, Father Upson invited everyone to partake in the Caribbean food that was available outside the church and to listen to Pan music, which is the national instrument of Trinidad.