I recently had the opportunity to participate in The Conference of Theology in the Caribbean Today (CTCT) which was held in Grenada from June 26th to 30th.
While many think of Theology as simply an academic subject that is only studied by seminarians and priests and seemingly holds little value in our society, this conference allowed me to see the richness of my Catholic faith, while also paying attention to the disturbing realities of the church in our Caribbean region. In all of the panel discussions that were held throughout the week, one common theme of “Identity” seemed to resonate with me. Many excellent presentations were hosted around our faith experience as Caribbean people. This allowed us to learn and delve into the history of our cultural faith expressions like the “Patios mass,” which is often celebrated in the countryside of Paramin and even some other religious practices that bear many similarities to that of Catholicism.
For many people, Christianity is seen as something foreign and contrary to our Caribbean culture. Those who follow Christianity are made to feel that they are compromising their identity to follow what is termed, “the white man’s religion.” It seemed quite apparent to me that there is a need for us to embrace our Caribbean identity in order for us to fully live and profess our faith in Christ as people of the Caribbean.
I am very grateful to know that the church is not blind to what is happening in our society. I am also equally grateful to have been part of the exceptional youth panel.
All in all, this theological conference was a really wonderful experience and even though the formal discussions were ended, many of the conversations continued during the breaks at the lunch table. While I am thankful for this experience, my hope is that many of the sharings of this conference can be used in practical ways to help serve and evangelize the Caribbean church today.
Written by Mark Howell-Paul