By Matisha Olivier
Over the past four months, the Family Life Commission – in association with Jubilee Women’s Ministries – has had the honour of celebrating the contributions of some of the Archdiocese’s most outstanding women.
As we bring this series to a close we go out looking towards the future. Today, we recognise some of our Archdiocese’s dynamic “Emerging Leaders” – Nicole Sogren, Tricia Hudlin –Cooper, Taresa D. Best and Natasha Lamy-Ramsden.
The formative years
Natasha credits her family for supporting her Catholic development all through her formative years at school. It is here that she learned the art of liturgical dancing and singing hymns at her school’s morning assembly. She reminisced of a mother and a grandmother who, according to her, showed “what it is to really ‘Cast yourself on God’s love’”.
She spoke candidly of her mother’s struggle as a single parent to raise her while still pursuing university studies, and added to that, the pains and faith of a grandmother diagnosed with cancer.
Taresa insists that because of the influence of her mother’s family, being Catholic felt like the most natural thing in the world. There was family prayer and participation in Church activities, but being Catholic wasn’t a big deal. “It was just who we were.”
This fact she found particularly peculiar because her mother came from an Anglican household but chose to raise her children in the Catholic faith.
She confesses that the single greatest reason she is Catholic is due to a challenge from her Uncle Ken. He told her, “If you’re going to criticise something, at least take the time to understand it first”. It was after his death that Taresa made a personal commitment to understand Catholicism in a deeper, more personal and intimate way.
Nicole came to Catholicism through her family in two ways; direct participation in the faith and respect for the diversity of religions reflected in our twin-island republic. “This”, she says “allowed me to balance my strong belief in Jesus’ truth with the understanding that goodness and love are not limited to Christians”. She grew up accepting that the people she admired were sinners just like her and she believes that – to this day – the most important lesson she was taught is that no matter what, God loved her. Much like the others, Tricia’s mother proved to be the greatest influence in her life. She taught her faith, specifically faith in God and that “a little was a lot, once God was in it”. Her aunts and cousins also played a big role as they were active church members and leaders of faith in the community of Morne Diablo in Penal.
They would pray and sing openly displaying the gifts of the Spirit, and from a tender age Tricia was eager to receive the gift of tongues and to have the joy and peace she saw her aunts and cousins experience when in the presence of God.
Answering the call
Mentioning the word “passion” evokes some of the most emotive responses as they opened up about what they considered to be God’s call on their lives and how it is reflected in their careers and ministry.
As a member of the Laventille Shrine in Trou Macaque, Tricia’s passion is to preach the good news of Jesus and to lead others to God. As a Catholic woman, she says she has an absolute distaste for injustice and a strong belief that everyone deserves to have their story told. She is an attorney-at-law – Senior State Counsel to be exact – but she confesses she would drop all in a heartbeat just to preach and worship Him.
She has served this archdiocese for many years as both a host and co-host on Trinity Communications Network shows; ministered at open-air outreach crusades; served as a moderator at Synod 2002 and 2009, and is a member of the board of St Dominic’s Children’s Home.
“I am passionate about research because I am passionate about justice,” says Taresa. Though only 25, she is completing her Master’s Degree in Development Statistics and has extensive work experience in this archdiocese as a commissioner and research assistant for five years at the Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ); four years with Sr Kathy Joseph at the Catholic Youth Secretariat, and two years at the Archdiocesan Youth Commission.
She believes it is unreasonable to demand service and commitment from young people if they are not given adequate formation and other kinds of support.
Legal and Company Secretary by day and co-ordinator of her Carapichaima parish’s Synod Implementation team on evenings and weekends, Natasha says her mother claims she has had a passion for life and law since she was three. In addition to her formal legal duties, she also conducts a legal assistance clinic for parishioners and has taught the post-communion/ pre-confirmation classes for the past four years.
Nicole is passionate about the arts – musical and visual arts in particular – and followed this passion all the way to a UWI degree, but admits she is also fascinated by the human condition. She believes that the arts are perhaps the most honest representation of who we are.
Nicole, an Arts teacher at ASJA Girls’ College in Tunapuna, has given back to the archdiocese through her art by serving in music ministry for the past 13 years.
The support of family
All the women admit that finding the balance between family life and ministry can prove to be quite a challenge. However, the support of loved ones helps them to achieve a balance.
They all admit that their spouses, fiancés or “significant others” understand and respect the call of God in their lives. From Natasha’s husband Sean who prepares meals, washes the clothes, and irons and dresses their children on mornings, to Taresa’s fiancé and other family members who spend the day praying for the success of an event, or even Tricia’s husband Geoffrey who anoints his wife before she goes out to do ministry, they are grateful for the love and support of family.
In a generation where the concept of God and his teachings seem to be almost obsolete, these women have proven to be a source and sign of true growth, of freedom and of a certain future for the Catholic Church.