Guyanese Catholics in New York continue to give Support  – by Francis Quamina Farrier

 – by Francis Quamina Farrier

On Sunday, October 13, 2019, New York-based Guyanese Catholics and Friends Celebrated the 30th. Annual New York Guyanese Holy Mass. The Brainchild of Guyana-born, New York-Based Monsignor Paul Jervis who was a young priest at the time, it was to Celebrate Holy Mass with Guyanese and their friends, pray for the Motherland and send Financial assistance for previously identified projects. Over the past thirty years, the event has always been well-attended and generous financial donations received and sent to Guyana.     

Some of the on-going beneficiaries include the Brickdam Soup Kitchen where some of the needy of the City turn up and receive a sumptuous mid-day meal on a regular basis. Over the past thirty years, many church buildings have either been repaired or in a few cases, rebuilt with financial assistance from the generous donations by the sisters and brothers who attend those annual Masses. It is a fact that many Guyanese in the Diaspora are very patriotic and show in a tangible way their support for the country of their birth and those in needback home; be they relatives, friends or at times even strangers.

One of the uniqueness of the Annual New York Guyanese Mass is that it is held in both the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens; alternating two years in Brooklyn and then two years in Queens, then back to Brooklyn for another two years as the cycle continues. Then it is also alternated at different churches in the Boroughs. Quite a mix of venues. Another tradition of that annual Catholic event in New York city, is the invitation to a Guyana-Based priest to be that chief celebrant. That has not always been so every year when the chief celebrant was resident abroad; however, he would always be a priest who has strong ties to Guyana.

Some of those who have been Chief Celebrant over the past three decades include Head of the Catholic Church in Guyana, Bishop Francis Alleyne, OSB, the former Editor of the Catholic Standard, the late Fr. Andrew Morrison, SJ, University of Guyana Lecturer, Fr. Malcolm Rodrigues, SJ, Administrator of the Brickdam Cathedral, Monsignor Terrence Montrose, CCH, Fr. John Persaud and Fr. Godfrey Veersammy among others. The celebrant this year was Toronto-based, Indian National, Fr. Michael Coutts, SJ, who served for many years at various parishes in Guyana. Although on retirement in Canada due to health reasons, Fr. Michael Coutts, SJ still makes visits to Guyana, a country he dearly loves.

There is another uniqueness about the Guyanese New York Holy Mass according to Monsignor Paul Jervis, “There is always evidence of the various races, attending the Mass and mixing freely with each other in love and unity.” Although most of those attending this annual Guyanese Holy Mass in New York are resident in New York city, there are those who travel from other States such as neighbouring New Jersey and Connecticut. Some even travel all the way from as far away as Florida and even from across the border in Canada, which was the case again this year. There was even a few from the United Kingdom who were in attendance.

From time to time there are Guyanese who are in New York visiting from Guyana, and take the opportunity to attend what can only be described as a religious and social gathering of Guyanese patriots. There are quite a number of instances of those who meet with former school mates and even relatives who they had not seen for years. An obvious development from the first Mass in October 1989 to last Sunday’s, October 2019, was the taking of Photo selfies. Nothing like that existed thirty years ago. Also different from 1989 was conversations about Guyana’s OIL and Gas future. There was even the mention that the Diaspora sent Barrels of Food and other items to Guyana, Guyana will soon be sending Barrels of oil to the diaspora in future.

One of the highlights of this 30th anniversary Holy Mass, was the honouring of veteran Educator and musician, Percy Caldeira who has been directing the Choir at the Mass for twenty five years. Before migrating to the USA, Percy Caldeira taught at many institutions of Education in his native Guyana including Queen’s College and the Teacher’s Training College. He also participated in Guyfesta – The Guyana Festival of the Arts. Among the thousands of former students of Percy Caldeira, is the former Minister of State Joseph Harmon.

Like so many other Guyanese of all Faiths, both at home and abroad, the Guyanese Catholics in New York have been sending up prayers for the happiness and prosperity of our Motherland. The many prayers offered up by so many in and out of Guyana – members of Guyana’s three recognized religions – seem to be answered. Of course, what is done with the waters from Guyana’s “Showers of Blessings” is entirely up to the Guyanese People.

Catholic Guyanese of all racial backgrounds mingle together. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier, October 13, 2019).

Percy Caldeira at age 80. Photo by Francis Q. Farrier on October 13, 2019

Choir Master of 25 years, Percy Caldeira, receives his citation from Fr. Michael Coutts, SJ, at the end of the Mass. (Photo by Francis Q. Farrier)

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