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Anglicans, Catholics Together at Easter Vigil

Over Harris Promenade in San Fernando , the cool night air quivered with anticipation. It was 9:30 p.m. on Gloria Saturday. Tents had been set up already; a public address system was being tested; and people - most of them dressed like Sunday morning church - had already begun putting chairs in place along the southern promenade. Some sat on makeshift cushions on the steps of the amphitheatre, holding candles with styrotex as lampshades. Towards the middle of the amphitheatre sat a large drum filled with coals. Clearly, something big was about to happen.

ProgrammeThe scene was set for an historic first Ecumenical Service of the Light and Word, the traditional Easter Vigil to be celebrated by the Christian communities of St. Paul 's Anglican and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church - virtual neighbours on Harris Promenade.

This initiative of Father Clyde Harvey, the Roman Catholic parish priest was supported fully by Canon Francis Caesar, rector of St. Paul 's. This collaboration led to the Anglicans and Catholics coming together for the first part of the Vigil.

The seven readings, each followed by psalms, were shared between the two churches. Prayers were said by Father Harvey and Father Matthew of the Catholic Church; and Canon Francis Caesar and Deacon Alvin Best of the Anglican Church.

And exchange of plaques and a big bear hug between both priests signalled to the worshippers that this could become an annual affair. In their greetings to the congregation, they both expressed deep satisfaction that union between the two churches had been realized. The friendly banter between the two priests permeated the solemn atmosphere.

Canon Caesar told the joint congregation that the event had been particularly meaningful for him. He was baptised a Roman Catholic, he explained, saying that, after his father died when he was 11, he started going to the Anglican Church with his mother. "Joining with our Catholic brethren in this way was so meaningful for me," he said.

Father Harvey invited members of both parishes to exchange their signed bookmarks which were distributed to commemorate this historic occasion.

The Light in the centre of the amphitheatre burned fiercely as Paschal candles were lit. Anglicans and Catholics lit each other's candles, joining hands later to sing, "To God be the Glory".

At the end of the joint outdoor service, each congregation processed to its respective church where the Masses were completed. (JAC)

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