This year marks the Fiftieth Anniversary of the establishment of the Catholic Church in the Cayman Islands. On this happy occasion, I am pleased to send you my best wishes, while gladly joining in giving praise and thanks to the Lord for His many blessings to you, His people, over these years.
Most Rev. Edgerton R. Clarke
Archbishop of Kingston
Fifty years ago, the Jesuit priests, who were missionaries in Jamaica, came to you simply to minister to the few resident Catholics on the Island, but their zeal for Christ quickly drew many other to join the little flock. The first community ofCatholics was established as a parish and dedicated to God under the Patronage of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Jesuits.
There followed a line of Jesuit Fathers who led the small community into the era of the Second Vatican Council with all the demands for renewal. Msgr. John Meany was the first diocesan priest assigned to St. Ignatius Church, then followed Msgr. Charles Sewall on loan from New York, and now your present Pastor, Father Devon Nash. All have guided the Church faithfully and each according to his own special charisms.
In the field of education, particularly at the primary and secondary levels, the Church has played a leading role, for she is convinced that the all-round formation of young people who represent the future of the nation is crucially important. We give thanks to the Franciscan Missionary Sisters who have served for over twenty-five years in teaching and we are grateful to the dedicated and generous lay teachers and parents who have contributed so much to our schools.
The initial years of Catholic life in Grand Cayman was not entirely easy. It existed in a climate of suspicion and intolerance. Episodes of animosity between Roman Catholics and other Christians were not infrequent, but still there were the occasions when respect, understanding and friendship characterized the relations between both groups.
Today we can thank God, the Catholic Church has come a long way. There has been tremendously rapid growth. Christ the Redeemer faith community has been established and the demand for at least two new mission centres is clear. Cayman Brac has its faith community and everywhere the laity are beginning to be involved in ministries and accepting ecclesial responsibilities.
By providential coincidence, this 50th Anniversary falls within the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. This year you are especially invited to welcome Christ and open your hearts to your brothers and sisters. "Welcome one another...as Christ has welcomed you" (Rom. 15:7). This is the daily task to which the spiritual climate of the Jubilee Year spurs us.
I join in giving thanks for those priests, religious women and lay faithful who have given a witness that has become our inheritance. Encouraged by the memory of those faithful ones we pray for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit and pledge to work together with every man and woman of good will to build a more just and fraternal society.
May Christ's love reach every member of the Church to bring joy and hope everywhere.