The many miracles of ministry in Guyana
The past year has been full of highlights and many important developments in the various Catholic communities in Guyana, where the Jesuits have served the Catholic population since 1857. As Parish Priest based in Berbice, Fr Ramesh Vanan SJ from Karnataka in India is one of the Jesuits responsible for Pastoral Ministry over many square miles of this beautiful country in South America.
Among the celebrations in Guyana during 2015 was the 90th anniversary of St Francis Xavier Church in Hosororo in the North West District, during which the newly renovated parish hall was inaugurated. “We have catered to the spiritual and physical needs of our parish communities and neighbourhood in this hall,” reflects Fr Ramesh. “We have had regular feeding programs run by the Martin De Pores Society of our parish throughout the year. It was a joy to see the smiles on the face of every child as they entered and left our hall during their afternoon lunch (below). The Gospel describing the feeding of the five thousand became real during each feeding as I was comforted with the generosity of our benefactors and multiplication of loafs (food we prepared). I am a witness to many miracles in that hall.”
Training new parish leaders
Fr Ramesh says that another joy of the past year for him was the forming of the Youth Group in St Joachim’s Church, Springlands. “The church is now back to life and buzzing with a lot of activities centring on Christ,” he explains, adding: “The talents that are seen there is something that needs to be invested in and multiplied. Their concert in November was a witness of my claim. In the past year, St Joachim’s has reached out and attended to the needs of the wider society.” These initiatives were achieved largely due to the generosity and service of the members of the parish council.
Over recent years, its remote location and the lack of available priests to serve it have meant that Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Siparuta (below) has been long neglected. It takes three hours on a speed boat to reach it but Fr Ramesh was able to visit it on 11 occasions during 2015 – most recently on 20 December. “Through divine guidance and providence, I was able to organise a training programmes for lay assistants and form a new set of leaders for this mission. We are now able to see the fruits of this difficult ploughing. Under the new leadership, this church is once again growing in strength … This is another fulfilling experience of mine as the Parish Priest of this community.”
As a new year starts in Guyana, Fr Ramesh says he feels great spiritual contentment. “There is always more to do though,” he cautions. “Hence, I request your prayers for God’s people, and for me the sinner whom God has chosen to help Him. Let us together glorify God.”