Publication of select writings or speeches of great or famous personalities has been one way of preserving thoughts and opinions, which in turn can be used as resource material for research and teaching, making it the better for the world of academia.
When the decision was taken that a book be published containing some of the writings of former archbishop of Port-of-Spain Edward Gilbert, the job seemed humongous, if only because the former archbishop had been writing and preaching for most of the ten years he spent in Trinidad and Tobago. It meant going through close to 500 newspaper columns and a host of homilies and conference speeches.
Catholic News editor June Johnston took on the task of selecting less than 100 pieces to be used in the book. She did a marvellous job. Vicar of Communications, Msgr Cuthbert Alexander, who is also head of Catholic Media Services (Camsel) after going through the selections, hit on the title Go Teach.
Why? The collection was chockfull of material that just lends itself to teaching and a virtual goldmine of information for catechists. The book contains 60 pieces which are grouped according to particular themes and the material in each of the nine sections follows a chronological order, except in two instances, in the Liturgical Seasons and Homilies, where the content dictated the placement of the entries.
Testimony to this can be found in the book’s foreword written by Archbishop Joseph Harris, who stated, “I know the deep faith, humility, tremendous generosity and love of this dedicated churchman. This collection of articles and conference reveals the deep faith of Archbishop Gilbert, his deep desire to be faithful to the teaching and sanctifying role which the office of bishop asked of him and indeed his love, albeit not very demonstrative, for a people whom he had come to know and respect.”
In a serious observation of the collection, Archbishop Harris stated, “Because of the way in which fundamental truths of our faith are presented and because of the tremendous clarity with which these truths are expressed and taught, this book can be of great value, especially at this time when relativism combined with secularism has made tremendous inroads in faith and practice.”
In the preface, Msgr Alexander describes Go Teach as a “testament to the special teaching gift of the archbishop and the faithfulness with which he embraced his role as the principal teacher of the faith community.” Whether on his Thursday evening television programme Shepherd’s Corner, or in his weekly column, Archbishop Gilbert explored big concepts in an easy manner.
But Msgr Alexander also pointed out that the book “is also intended to be a handy resource for those called to teach the faith in special ways—catechists, teachers, religious, deacons, priests, bishops—Archbishop Gilbert felt that all in leadership positions in the church needed to devote themselves, with some seriousness, to teaching the faithful.”
Msgr Alexander referred to a particular piece on “Conscience Formation,” in which Gilbert wrote, “It is essential that….leaders in the church understand their responsibility to teach the people as Jesus did and help them to internalise and live what they have heard.”
Go Teach was launched Tuesday at the Audio-Visual Room of Nalis on Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain, in the presence of Archbishop Joseph Harris. Copies of the book are available at Camsel’s offices and some selected bookstores in hard and soft covers.
• Vernon Khelawan is media relations officer of Camsel, the official communications arm of the Archdiocese of Port-of-Spain, with offices at 31 Independence Square, Port-of-Spain. Telephone is 623-7620.