Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of November 20, 2006
Songs, stories heal Caribbean islanders
Franciscan and Friends Caribbean Music Mission evangelize the disenfranchised
By RAMON GONZALEZ
- Photo by Wendy Grady
Bro. Gerry Clyne shares a message about St. Francis as he introduces the Living Water Community Benefit Concert at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Bridgetown Barbados.
Barbados Bishop Robert Rivas and Living Water, a Catholic lay apostolate that has been in Barbados for the past 10 years, asked Grady to organize the tour.
"They invited us. We were there last year and then they invited us again this year. The purpose of the tour was to evangelize."
Each presentation was like a variety show, with team members playing everything from gospel bluegrass and gospel blues to praise and worship music. Calgary guitarist Manuel Jara delighted audiences with his Latin tunes.
Franciscan Brother Gerry Clyne of Edmonton, a guitarist and singer, didn't play or sing much.
But at each concert and at the prison ministry he spoke about St. Francis and talked about how St. Francis loved God, loved people, loved creation and completely gave his love to God.
The team did two big concerts at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Bridgetown, Barbados, which Grady said brought Protestants and Catholics together.
"There's been a history of segregation or just walls between the denominations and so this really helped to bring people in together to share an experience of gospel music."
- Photo by David Macdonald
Denis Grady shares a smile with Sherland Willie, 12, of the Boy's Training Centre, Castries, St. Lucia.
Although the mission team included a Baptist, a Pentecostal and a couple of Lutherans, the group prayed the rosary nearly every day because it was clear to everyone that this was a Catholic initiative, Grady noted.
The mission team visited several prisons, like one in St. Vincent that was built 100 years ago for 100 men and that now has 382 inmates.
Some of the team members, Grady included, are recovering drug addicts and alcoholics and they shared their testimony with the prisoners.
"And so I would say my name is Denis. I'm a drug addict, alcoholic; I'm clean and sober today by the grace of God.
"And immediately you create this bridge."
Grady said inmates perhaps expected to be judged and to be told they will go to hell unless they accept Jesus as their saviour. But that was not the mission team approach.
"Our thing is saying we are just here to share some music and to thank God for his goodness and his love and his fidelity and his forgiveness. And you know what, we have done the same things as some of you guys have.
"We shared some testimony and told the guys we'd pray for them and we also said we are coming back next year."
Grady thinks the tour was successful in that it impacted some people's lives, especially those of prisoners, many of whom were living in a state of hopelessness and guilt before the team visited.
He met an 18-year-old girl from Holland in the prison who looked like his daughter. "I asked her when she was going home and she said next year.
- Photo by Wendy Grady
A young parishioner from St. Benedict's Parish proudly shows his handiwork.
"After listening to (team member) David MacDonald's powerful testimony from addictions she said, 'He told my story.' And I said 'Look at where he is today. And God is offering that to you.'
"I said 'God can use your past to reach other people so all of that misery isn't in vain but God can use it for good purpose. And you can share your past but we need to put in the time with God.'"
The Franciscan and Friends Caribbean Music Team plans to bring Bishop Rivas of Barbados on a tour of Alberta in the near future.
"Hopefully we did some good," Clyne, the Franciscan brother, said Nov. 14. "I think we probably got more out of it than they got from us."
For the brother, the tour was about getting a broader perspective of the world, of people from another culture. And he got that.
"I just came back with a stronger resolve to continue to live simply and to live with a broader perspective in life, (very aware) of the fact that there are people in the world who live lives that are not to our standard of living."
The brother also said it was a good experience being a visible minority in the islands. People, he said, were amazingly generous.
Probably the most poignant thing for Clyne was visiting the prisons and rehabilitation centres for young orphans, some of whom had been used in the sex trade.
"Some of them may have been eight and 12 years old; that's what really broke my heart. I wanted to adopt them all, you know.
"It is heartbreaking to see some of these kids, but it was also inspiring to see the unsung heroes that were working with them to make a difference in their lives."
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