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A feeling of trepidation
Bishop Charles Jason Gordon, who once worked closely with the hot-spot community of Gonzales, will be installed as the new Archbishop of Port-of-Spain in December this year.
The announcement was made at a press conference held at the Archbishop’s House in Port-of-Spain yesterday where Gordon described his feelings as one of “trepidation” upon receiving the news.
Gordon becomes the third Trinidadian to lead the local Catholic Church following Harris and the late Archbishop Anthony Pantin.
He said being the head of the Catholic Church in T&T was a huge responsibility coupled with the challenges faced by the society including the rising crime rate.
Describing T&T as having “incredible challenge and joy at the same time” Gordon said, “To be Archbishop of Port-of-Spain as Archbishop Harris alluded to could wear down an old man and I don’t know that the wearing down is so much as of age as of the complexity of the Archdioceses, of the turbulent nature of Trinidad society, of this joy of life that we have on the one hand and yet the challenge to harness potential and really create a movement for good and a movement for change and building a better society and Church,” Gordon said.
Citing crime as an example he said there were moments when it seemed possible to bring the crime challenge under a different level of control.
“And then the explosion of crime after that says, ‘Well that was a great moment and here we have another one.’ That is the volatile nature of Trinidad society. It is an incredible society, it is dynamic, it has energy and a sense of life second to none but all of these great characteristics of Trinidad society also lead it a society where harnessing...holding unity and creating a movement for positive transformation is also a very difficult and challenging thing.
“Trepidation because the task of being Archbishop of Port-of-Spain is a very serious responsibility but there is a sense of peace because I know it is God who is asking me to do this,” Gordon said.
He said despite the fact that he was out of the country for the past six years as he was appointed the Diocese of Bridgetown, Barbados one of his immediate plans was to re-engage himself with the community, especially those affected by violence and crime.
He said unless ways could be found to bring growth to the most difficult communities, the Church was not carrying out its mandate.
Saying he received a peace award for his work in Gonzales, Gordon said he also intended to use sport as a tool to uplift youths in such communities.
Gordon added that he also intended to “listen deeply” to all sectors of society adding, “To try and understand what is the thing that is ticking deep in the unconscious of our people which connects with the gospel message so that I can start building bridges.”
On plans to encourage the youths to stay in the Church, Gordon said young people stayed in Church when they were connected to Christ and feeling that the Church was meaningful in their lives.
He said there must be participatory, relevant interaction in helping youths understand the gospel.
In the Gonzales community yesterday, mostly the older people remembered Gordon.
Enid Brewster, who said she has been living in the area since 1960, was elated upon learning of Gordon”s accomplishment.
“I remember all the good work he did in the community especially helping the youths getting on the right track. I had two choices either Fr Harvey or Fr Gordon.
“I am very happy he was chosen,” Brewster said.
The caretaker of the community’s Catholic Church Valentine Pemberton Roman Catholic Church agreed that Gordon would make a good Archbishop.
But some of the youths in the area said they had never heard of Gordon and therefore could not comment on his capabilities.
Gordon will replace Archbishop Joseph Harris, who submitted his letter of resignation to the Pope in March this year upon turning 75. Gordon was consecrated Bishop of Bridgetown and Kingstown (St Vincent and the Grenadines) on September 21, 2011, a week after Harris was ordained co-adjutor Archbishop of Port of Spain.
Born March 17, 1959, Gordon was ordained a diocesan priest in March 1991 at the age of 32.
He began studies for the priesthood in the late 1980s and early 1990s at the then Regional Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs, Mt St Benedict.
He continued his studies at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium where he attained both his BA and Master’s in Theology. He later completed his PhD in London.
After his priestly ordination, Gordon lectured at the regional seminary and he managed a number of projects in the Living Water Community including Fountain of Hope and the Marian House for young men.
In 2003, Gordon was appointed parish priest of Rosary/Gonzales and created projects to improve the Gonzales community which at the time had been deeply affected by gang-related violence.
He helped start a homework clinic, an internet café and a project known as CITY (Community Interventions Transforming Youths).
In 2007 then Archbishop Edward Gilbert appointed him to the newly created position of Vicar for Administration. Two year later, Pope Benedict XVI made him a Monsignor.
Earlier this year, Gordon was elected vice-president of the Antilles Episcopal Conference, the regional body of Catholic bishops for the English, Dutch and French-speaking Caribbean territories.
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