An anniversary is truly a time to celebrate. We celebrate the fact that we have arrived at another milestone in our history. We celebrate God, who has been there with us and for us. We celebrate God, who has blessed us abundantly.
An anniversary is also a time to reflect. As we here at St. Ignatius Catholic Church celebrate our Golden Jubilee, we see where these fifty years have been marked by many significant achievements. I would like to make mentions of the major ones.
In 1971, with the help of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters from Jamaica, Our lady of Perpetual Help Preparatory School was started. The Church located in what is now known as Elizabethan Square, was the cradle for this institution which is now almost thirty years old. The school has seen many expansions. It has grown "by leaps and bounds." We now have approximately 380 students enrolled. Some past students of this school now occupy various important positions in the Caymanian society.
The time came for the relocation of the Church. Many people said it was a wrong move to build the new Church in the "bushes". It was the popular view that no one would attend the church in that out-of-the-way place. The men of vision who were the pastors at the time, thought otherwise. They purchased nine acres of land. The Prep School preceded the Church to this new location. Amid much criticism, the small family setting of the Church in the center of George Town was changed to the larger, modern, beautiful structure that we now have. It was dedicated on January 6, 1983. The new St. Ignatius Church was built to seat three hundred and fifty people.
The third building to be erected on the Walker's Road site, was the rectory. It was built in 1991. Monsignor Meaney began living in the new rectory in June 1991. August 1991 saw the arrival of a second priest, yours truly. This was the first time that two priests worked together in this Church Community. When I arrived, Monsignor Meaney said, "Good, now we can increase the amount of Masses we have." Later he said, "Now we can build another Church." In the summer of 1992, the ground was broken for the building of Christ the Redeemer Church in West Bay. This was established to serve the West Bay Road and West Bay Community. It was dedicated in April 1993. The attendance at Christ the Redeemer has not affected that of St. Ignatius.
The summer of 1993 saw another ground-breaking ceremony. It was in response to the many requests that a Catholic High School be built. The doors of the High School opened in September 1994. Six years have passed already since the establishment of this institution, and it has proven to be outstanding. It is recognised and respected by the wider community. We have approximately 220 students enrolled.
In order to meet the needs of the rapidly growing Hispanic community, a Mass in Spanish was introduced. There is an average of seventy attending each weekend. If they were all to attend at one time, we could fill the St. Ignatius Church. Several of them attend the Masses in English, since they find the times more convenient.
Father Devon Nash
We have witnessed a growth in the attendance. We recently realised that we minister to about 1,000 people each weekend and an additional 200 during the winter months. We have parishioners from many different countries. The Caymanian population of our Church has also increased.
The time has come to celebrate and to thank God for our achievements. We cannot do so without remembering the priests, sisters and lay people who have laboured hard and long to bring us to this point. Some have gone to their eternal rest. We pray that God will be merciful to them. For those who are still among us, we pray that God will reward them generously for their selflessness and their tireless efforts.
I salute the twelve priests who have preceded me as Pastor of this Church Community. May God, the Father, Almighty, who has begun the good work in us, bring it to perfection.