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Special service for President-elect Carmona
President-elect Justice Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona, sitting in the front pew with his wife and children, was the focus of yesterday’s worship at the Church of the Assumption, Maraval, where special prayers were offered up for him. The church was asked to sing, Spirit of the Living God Fall Afresh on Me, while Fr Garfield Rochard called upon God to come upon Carmona and fill him with His Spirit. “Send forth Your Spirit oh Lord upon Your chosen one,” Rochard prayed.
During his homily earlier, the priest said the very name of the president-elect says a lot about who he is. Thomas Aquinas was a thirteenth-century Italian Catholic priest of the Dominican Order deemed by the church to be the model teacher for those studying for the priesthood. Aquinas, who was bestowed with sainthood by the Catholic church, was influenced by Aristole and was known for his works on the synthesis of philosophy and theology.
Surprising some members of the congregation, Carmona, after being prayed for, walked to the front of the church and took the microphone. Dressed in a simple long-sleeved shirt and trousers, he spoke informally to those gathered. He fondly recalled his wedding at the La Divina Pastora Church in Siparia, his hometown (and that of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar) and disclosed that his children were also baptised there.
It is a church Hindus venerate and one of the few places in the world where Hindus and Catholics worship together, Carmona said. He told of the influence of parish priests upon him as a young boy. “I am a product of a spiritual upbringing,” he said. Emphasising his simplicity, he said the people who inspired him most in life were simple people who had no education. “Like my parents, for example,” he said.
Carmona noted that he, like everyone, is not perfect but is on the road to perfection. “You must go beyond the imperfections and live in perseverance and hope,” he advised. “If you have a son giving trouble, do not give up on him. Do not give up. If you are god-fearing, you will not give up,” he said. “One of the solutions to life’s problems is to practice spirituality, not just come to church,” he added.
Carmona said the role of president is a heavy responsibility but said there were always “angels without wings” around him throughout his career. He recalled his experience as a judge at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands and as Appeals Counsel at the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
“I met many angels without wings in my career,” he said. Persad-Bissessar, at last month’s ceremony to elect Carmona as president, said “he is guided by the deep spiritual convictions of his faith”. She said Carmona was a man of the people who is on an equal footing with the highest echelons in society but still rubs shoulders with the ordinary folk on his regular journeys on the water taxi to and from San Fernando or joining hands with fellow parishioners Sunday mornings at Assumption Church or the Church of La Divina Pastora.
“In fact we saw him only a few days ago playing mas with fellow revellers,” the PM said.
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