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Archbishop Harris on marriage and annulment

Archbishop Joseph Harris (centre) Deacon Harold Woodroffe and Fr. Clifton Harris of Grenada at opening Mass.
Archbishop Joseph Harris (centre) Deacon Harold Woodroffe and Fr. Clifton Harris of Grenada at opening Mass.

Archbishop Joseph Harris has advised married couples to never stop working at their relationship and to court each other as they did before the wedding.

Fr. Wilfred John speaking on: "My Life's Journey"
Fr. Wilfred John speaking on: "My Life's Journey"

He said all marriages would have “difficult moments” but couples must “pray together, continue to court each other and love each other”. He suggested putting aside 1% of one’s salary to surprise one’s spouse with a gift, and advised couples with children not to concentrate solely on the youngsters. He explained: “Build your relationship so you can concentrate on the children TOGETHER…. Learn to pray with each other. Ask God for the graces needed to make your marriage a success.”

Mr. Hugh Clarke, Attorney-at-law speaking on:The Advantages of having a Power of Attorney, and having a Will
Mr. Hugh Clarke, Attorney-at-law speaking on:The Advantages of having a Power of Attorney, and having a Will

Archbishop Harris issued this marital advice at the 23rd Anniversary Convention of the Ministry to the Separated, Divorced and Widowed (SDW), a ministry of the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission.

Last weekend’s (Jan 21-22) convention was held at the Seminary of St John Vianney and the Uganda Martyrs, Mount St Benedict. Among the more than 100 participants were persons from Grenada, Guyana, St Lucia, Suriname and Dominica.

Archbishop Harris opened the discussions on the Saturday with a talk on “Why the Catholic Church allows Annulments”. As Judicial Vicar, Archbishop Harris oversees the Metropolitan Tribunal, the vicariate established by canon law as the judicial arm of the Archbishop’s government of the Archdiocese. Considered the Church’s court system, it handles matters of permissions and dispensations pertaining to marriage.

Ms.Jennifer Hackshaw, team member, giving a token of appreciation to Ms. Ramdeen.
Ms.Jennifer Hackshaw, team member, giving a token of appreciation to Ms. Ramdeen.

During the archbishop’s 30-minute talk, he said it was wrong to call an annulment a Catholic divorce because “the Church has no authority to annul a valid sacramental marriage”. Divorce was a civil process which stated that a marriage no longer existed, he said, adding that he preferred to use the term “Declaration of Nullity”, meaning there was never a marriage.

Kenneth Kong Ting, team member, making a presentation to ,on behalf of the SDW Ministry, to retired Justice Monica Barnes for her support and presentations on marital/family law over the years.
Kenneth Kong Ting, team member, making a presentation to ,on behalf of the SDW Ministry, to retired Justice Monica Barnes for her support and presentations on marital/family law over the years.

Archbishop Harris went into great detail explaining the defining factors of a marriage, the grounds on which a Declaration would be granted, and the process from application to judgment. He clarified that a Declaration did not affect the legal status of children, and stressed the need for an applicant to ensure a civil divorce was granted before starting the process. He replied to a series of delicate questions during a Q&A session following his talk.

Rev Woodruffe prays over Zena Ali, new SDW Ministry chairperson. At right are Kay and Wilfred Holder, who started the Ministry many years ago. Ali replaces Lucille Smith. Photos: Kenneth Kong Ting
Rev Woodruffe prays over Zena Ali, new SDW Ministry chairperson. At right are Kay and Wilfred Holder, who started the Ministry many years ago. Ali replaces Lucille Smith. Photos: Kenneth Kong Ting

Diego Martin parish priest Fr Wilfred John gave the other talk on Saturday, “A Testimony of My Journey”. Speakers on Sunday were attorney Hugh Clarke on “The Advantages of Having a Power of Attorney and of Preparing a Will”, and Leela Ramdeen, chair of the Catholic Commission for Social Justice, who spoke about “Revitalising Catholic Identity: Separated, Divorced and Widowed”.

The archbishop was the main celebrant and homilist for the opening Mass, with Fr Clifton Harris of Grenada as concelebrant, assisted by Rev Harold Woodroffe. Episcopal Vicar for Family Life Msgr Robert Llanos was main celebrant at Sunday’s closing Mass.

The assembly prays over Zena Ali.
The assembly prays over Zena Ali.

During the convention, Zena Ali was introduced as the new SDW Ministry chairperson. Retired Justice Monica Barnes, who delivered many a presentation at previous conventions, was recognised for her contribution over the years. – RS

Comment ( 1 )

  • Zena ali

    I thank GOD for our founders and Team Members for their valuable time in making this Convention a success. REGISTRATION has started for our NEW BEGINNINGS WEEKEND RETREAT which is from 6.00pm on Friday 2nd March – 4.00pm on Sunday 4th March 2012 at the CARONI CHARISMATIC CENTRE. COST:$300 For more information you can call ZENA 391-4352. REGISTER EARLY AS SPACE IS LIMITED.

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