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‘New Beginnings’ after 25 years

Judicial Vicar Fr John Persaud addresses the 25th anniversary conference of New Beginnings.
Judicial Vicar Fr John Persaud addresses the 25th anniversary conference of New Beginnings.

 New Beginnings celebrated 25 years of ministering to the separated, divorced and widowed in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain with a one-day conference on January 12 titled, “From Pieces to Peace”. It was held at the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Centre, Caroni.

A New Beginnings Weekend is designed to help separated, divorced and widowed persons make a new beginning in life. It is a Christian movement, open to persons of all faiths, though designed by and for Catholics. It provides persons with an opportunity to discover themselves in God’s plan.

The weekend is based on a programme developed in Canada in 1977. In 1988, Kay and Wilfred Holder hosted the first weekend in T&T at the Marian Centre in San Fernando, after adapting the programme.

In 2003, following the restructuring and re-commissioning of the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission, the New Beginnings Weekend was placed under the Commission’s Ministry to the Separated, Divorced and Widowed.

The Weekends are held three times a year – in March, July and October. There are other activities such as reunions, workshops, conferences, and a convention is held bi-annually.

The 25th anniversary conference began with a welcome address by the chairperson of the movement, Zena Ali, followed by an opening prayer by team member Angela Rostant.

The first guest speaker, Nicole Joseph-Chin, focused on breast care and health, covering the high statistics and circumstances under which many people are being diagnosed with breast cancer. She stressed that both men and women can develop breast cancer. Her focus on breast health from a spiritual point of view as the bosom being the seat of the heart – a place of comfort and nourishment to new-born babies – impacted on participants in a significant way. Diet, lifestyle, exercise, awareness and early detection are critical in treating with care of cancer. Illness affects everyone in the family, workplace, community and the Church and is not isolated to the individual who is being treated. She encouraged people to be their brother’s keeper and to show sensitivity in dealing with the health issues faced by others.

The second guest speaker, Judicial Vicar Fr John Persaud, introduced the day’s theme, “From Pieces to Peace”. He focused on issues associated with marriage and the process of obtaining a Declaration of Nullity. He first explained what marriage is and is not in the eyes of the Church.  He clarified questions about divorce and the circumstances in which a Declaration of Nullity is granted, citing the relevant Church Law. He encouraged persons who are divorced to seek the counsel of their parish priest and other clergy who are knowledgeable about the Church’s position on divorce.

The third guest speaker focused on another aspect of the overall theme – prudent financial planning. Picking up the financial pieces after the loss of one’s spouse,         whether by death or through divorce or separation, can be for many a great challenge. Team member Wilfred Holder stressed that having a financial plan was critical in the recovery process.

Tokens of appreciation were presented to significant supporters of the Ministry throughout the years and to the team members. Wendy Cezair was presented with a token of appreciation for her dedicated support to the Ministry from the very first New Beginnings Weekend – and she is still active in the Ministry today.

Our day ended with a Eucharistic Service led by Deacon Harold Woodruffe. During the service, the chairperson recommitted to serve for another two years. The next New Beginnings Weekend is from March 14–16. For information, call Lucille 734-6422 or Zena 391-4352.

New Beginnings Team

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