PARISH ANNUAL REPORT - YEAR ENDED ON JUNE 30, 2021
The Peace of Christ be with you all!
The Year ended June 30, 2021, will forever be indelibly printed in our minds as one of challenges, uncertainties, and testing in the face of the global Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic. In fact, it was a year like no other. Many lives were impacted by the pandemic crisis and as a Parish, we too were affected but we sought ways and means not only to ensure that the spiritual needs of our community were met, but also to assist in alleviating the burden of those who were in dire need of support.
The year-end also coincided with the completion of my first year as the Parish Administrator of St. Ignatius Parish. I am ever thankful for the support and dedication of committed staff, parishioners and individuals within our Parish community which enabled us to move forward confidently during these challenging and unprecedented times.
In keeping with the Government’s directives during the lockdown from March to June 2020, the Churches (St. Ignatius, Christ the Redeemer, and Stella Maris), the Divine Mercy Adoration Chapel and the Parish Office were closed. The celebration of Mass and the sacraments as a community were prohibited. However, daily Masses at St. Ignatius were live-streamed by the priest celebrant so that parishioners could at least participate spiritually in the liturgy. In addition, the Archbishop of Detroit, the Most Rev. Allen Vigneron, granted a dispensation for in-person attendance at Mass until September 2020.
The launching of the St. Ignatius “My Parish App” at the beginning of July 2020 has proven to be a very great and helpful resource in keeping parishioners informed of parish announcements and activities, as well as essential features such as daily Mass readings, Catholic news, prayers, the weekly bulletin, etc. The My Parish App, along with FORMED, were welcomed sources of spiritual nourishment for parishioners, in the absence of community worship and fellowship during the lockdown. During this period, some prayer groups also maintained contact with their members through zoom prayer sessions.
With the easing of the Government restrictions and the re-opening of the Parish, Mass was initially celebrated only at St. Ignatius. Safety protocols were put in place to ensure social distancing as well as the compulsory sanitization of hands, and the wearing of masks by parishioners, and the sanitization of the Church after every Mass. Restrictions were also put in place for the celebration of Mass.
Daily and weekend Masses continued to be celebrated only at St. Ignatius and Confession was temporarily shifted from Saturday to Friday evening. Due to the lockdown and travel restrictions, the arrival of the newly appointed Associate Pastor was delayed. However, the former Pastor Fr. Theo D’Cunha, who was still on Island, was requested to assist in celebrating the Sunday Masses at St. Ignatius so that the 8 am and 11:30 am Masses were offered simultaneously at both St. Ignatius Church and Loyola Hall to ensure that social distancing and the safety protocols were complied with by those wishing to attend. Parishioners in Cayman Brac were able to watch the live-streamed Masses from St. Ignatius.
Following the departure of Fr. D’Cunha in August 2020, four Sunday Masses were celebrated at St. Ignatius – 8 am, 10 am, 12 noon, and 6 pm – as I was the sole priest on Island until the welcomed arrival in October 2020 of the Associate Pastor, Fr. Anthony Fernandes, SAC, who having served 7 years in Taiwan, was assigned to our Cayman Parish community. With his arrival, Mass was once again celebrated at Christ the Redeemer and Stella Maris. The normal weekend Mass times resumed at St. Ignatius on December 13, 2020, and normal Confession times in February 2021. The Divine Mercy Adoration Chapel was also reopened, initially with only a limited number of adorers allowed at any one time with safety protocols in place.
As a number of our elderly and sick parishioners were unable to attend Mass due to the ongoing pandemic, arrangements were put in place for home visits so that they could receive the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Reconciliation. A special Mass was also celebrated for Senior Citizens with the Anointing of the Sick in October 2020.
The Faith Formation Programmes has kept apace, with a record number of children being enrolled for Sunday School classes, especially those preparing for the Sacraments of Holy Communion and Confirmation. Other faith-based programmes included the popular 11-week Alpha Youth Series for High School Students, which began in September 2020.
On September 8, 2020, the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Parish celebrated the 70th Anniversary of the Roman Catholic Church in the Cayman Islands. A special Mass and IGNITE Prayer Experience evening was organized to celebrate this milestone with Fr. Joseph Kirkconnell, our first native Caymanian priest, giving an inspirational reflection via zoom. On February 5, 2021, Stella Maris celebrated its 10th Anniversary with a Mass and social organized by parishioners in Cayman Brac. Stella Maris Church was dedicated by the Most Reverend Allen Vigneron, Archbishop of Detroit in 2011. Although the number of parishioners in Cayman Brac remains relatively small, they remain faithful and committed to the faith.
Recalling the 150th anniversary of the declaration of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church by Blessed Pope Pius IX, in his Apostolic Letter “Patris corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”), Pope Francis proclaimed a “Year of St. Joseph” from December 8, 2020, to December 8, 2021. Throughout the year so far, we celebrated St. Joseph through a special Novena, prayers and articles on his life and role in salvation history and “as a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father; a father who is creatively courageous, a working father, a father in the shadows.” Pope Francis also announced the year of “Amoris Laetitia Family” which is dedicated to the beauty and joy of love in the family, and which commenced on March 19, 2021, the Solemnity of St. Joseph and will end of June 26, 2022, during the X Meeting of Families in Rome.
Other liturgical events included the Lenten Stations of the Cross, IGNITE Prayer Experiences, Novena to the Immaculate Conception, the Living Rosary, Stations of the Resurrection, the Global Rosary Marathon for the End of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Pentecost Praisefest, World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, the St. Francis Xavier celebrations, the Simbang Gabi Masses, etc.
While over the years, our Parish has regularly offered annual Bible Study programmes, this year, parishioners were not only able to engage in the 8-week Bible Study programme – Follow Me: Meeting Jesus in the Gospel of John by Dr Edward Sri, which included videos, group discussions and fellowship, but parishioners were also encouraged to register for the Ascension Press podcast, “The Bible in a Year”, with popular speaker Fr. Mike Schmitz. The podcast of 365 episodes, covers the entire Bible with Fr. Schmitz providing commentary, reflection, and prayer along the way.
The annual Vacation Bible School and other summer events were cancelled including the eagerly awaited overseas Steuben-ville High School Conference for Teens. Instead of in-person attendance at overseas conferences, the parish hosted the Franciscan University of Steubenville live streamed Virtual Conference, “Steubenville Live” in Loyola Hall with the theme for Teens “Hope Alive” from July 17-19, 2020, and for adults, “Night of Hope”, on July 19. In total, thirty of our teens and adults participated in this virtual weekend event which featured worship music, talks by engaging priests and speakers, with the opportunity for Adoration and Confession on site. Over the weekend of June 25–27, 2021, the popular annual Steubenville Youth Conference themed “Restored” was also held locally in Loyola Hall via live-streaming, with 36 youth in attendance. Over the years, the Steubenville youth conferences have been a life changing experience for many of our young people, who are always enthusiastic in sharing their testimonies and encouraging their peers to attend.
During the year, there were two celebrations of the Adult Christian Initiation; one was held in July for those who would have been received into the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil Mass in 2020 and the other was held in April 2021. Our youth Confirmation candidates experienced a different kind of retreat in January 2021. Instead of an overnight retreat, they were required to travel to the retreat centre each day. Notwithstanding this, our youth were fully engaged in the retreat experience although the speakers from the Archdiocese of Detroit joined by way of zoom and recorded talks. They were still able to gain the full benefit of the retreat through group discussions, Adoration, Confession, fellowship, etc.
In February 2021, I was delegated with the honour and privilege of conferring the Sacrament of Confirmation on the Confirmation candidates as Archbishop Vigneron and Bishop Cepeda were unable to travel to Cayman due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions. There were also two celebrations for First Holy Communion during the year. Our young children who would normally have received the Sacrament in May had to wait until September 2020 due to the lockdown. However, the annual First Holy Communion Mass for 2021 was celebrated on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi on June 6. Other annual liturgical Parish activities included the monthly Spanish Mass, the Parish Lenten Retreat - “Hope in God”, Divine Mercy Novena, May Procession and Crowning of Mary, spiritual bouquets for Mother’s and Father’s Day, blessing of graves and homes, etc.
Over the course of many months, our Parish has witnessed a reduction in the number of our expatriate parishioners as some have chosen to return to their homeland mainly to be closer to their families during the pandemic or their work positions were made redundant as a result of the downturn in the economy. Notwithstanding this, our Parish collections have remained stable which enabled us to meet our operating expenses for all three Churches.
Fundraising efforts during the year included the Annual Spring Tea Party, Golf Scramble, the Garage Sale & Car Boot Sale, the St. Ignatius/Dorothy Rice Scholarship Fund, the Food Pantry, Friday Fish Fry Nights in support of our youth, the CRS Rice Bowl, the Building Improvement (International) Dinner Nights, to name just a few.
Other activities included World Marriage Day, Blood Donation Drive, Parish Picnic & Beach BBQ, and especially for our youth and children - Friday Night Youth Activities, the Easter Egg Hunt, All Saints Day, Beach Trip, Games, etc.
Below is a summary of the various activities as it relates to the stewardship of our Parish over the past fiscal year ended June 30, 2021:
Evangelization/ Fundraising (CI$)
RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults): 11
No. of School Students: 690
Graduates Yr. 11: 38
Graduates Yr. 13: 40
Infant/Children Baptisms: 77
First Holy Communion: 101
Faith Formation: 279
Marriages & Convalidation: 5
ALPHA Youth: 55
Bible Study: 51
Steubenville Virtual Youth Conference 2020: 44
Steubenville Virtual Youth Conference 2021: 36
VBS – Vacation Bible School 2020: Cancelled
Spring Tea Party
St. Vincent (Volcanic Relief)
Ash Wednesday Collection (Poor Box)
Good Friday Collection (Holy Land)
Advent Appeal (Overseas Hurricane Relief, etc.)
Garage Sale (Building Improvement Fund)
Italian Dinner Night (Building Fund)
World Mission Sunday
CRS Rice Bowl
In addition to the pastoral care of our three Parish Churches i.e., St. Ignatius, Christ the Redeemer and Stella Maris, I also had to assume leadership of the School for several months in the interim between the departure of the former Head of School and the arrival of the new Principal in early 2021. The interim management of the School, along with the normal administrative and pastoral responsibility for our parish community, was a challenging period. With the support of the School Advisory Committee and the School Senior Leadership Team, my main aim was to ensure the optimal performance of our School and to revive the long-awaited new Sports Hall Complex project which had been delayed due to the pandemic. With the fulfillment of the outstanding Government and other requirements, construction of the project begun in April 2021. It is expected that the new multi-purpose facility will be completed by next summer 2022.
Caring and Sharing…
The St. Ignatius Food Pantry became a lifeline for many parishioners and members of the community at large during the ongoing pandemic. Parishioners were generous in keeping the Food Pantry stocked by supplying non-perishable food items, supermarket gift cards or monetary donations. An anonymous donor gave a major donation of $25,000 to this ministry.
The Annual Advent Giving Tree appeal for gifts earmarked for local families on Grand Cayman took placed in December as well as a second Advent appeal to support the relief work in Nicaragua and Honduras following the hurricane devastation of these countries. Funds from the second Advent Appeal collection also assisted the former pastor, Fr. Devon Nash with his work at Sacred Heart Parish in Jamaica. A special appeal was also made to assist those affected by the volcanic devastation in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
St. Ignatius/Dorothy Rice Scholarship Fund continues to assist the youth of our Catholic families who are unable to meet the full cost of a Catholic education at our School.
Due to the lockdown and travel restrictions, we were unable to welcome visitors in-person from overseas, but we were able to maintain contact through zoom meetings.
While the challenges arising from the global Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic are still evident, through the providence of Our Lord and the support of many in our community, we have been able to weather the storm thus far. The support and dedication of the Parish Pastoral Council, the Parish Finance Council, School Advisory Committee, and the Archdiocese of Detroit have been invaluable during my first year as Parish Administrator.
Going forward, my aim is to continue to build on the solid foundation laid by my predecessors and to manage the affairs and responsibilities of St. Ignatius Churches and School with prudence, efficiency, and effectiveness as we grow and become a mission-oriented Parish community, in keeping with the Archdiocese of Detroit’s vision to “Unleash the Gospel”.
My sincere and deepest appreciation to everyone, especially to my Associate Pastor, Fr. Anthony Fernandes, SAC; Deacon Joseph Biggs; Director of Religious Education, Mr. O’Neil Miller; Community Liaison Coordinator, Mr. Jeremy Rice; Parish Secretary, Mrs. May Ursua; Facilities Manager, Mr. Sambasivan (Sekar) Dhanasekar; and Maintenance Staff, Mr. Jerry Gracias. I also wish to extend my sincere gratitude to the Parish Pastoral Council, the Parish Finance Council, members of the various Commissions, Committees, ministries, and groups, as well as all the volunteers, donors and parishioners who gener-ously gave of their time, talent, and treasure.
Have a restful and enjoyable summer!
Fr. Naveen D’Souza, SAC