The first Catholic conference on Theology in the Caribbean Today was held in Saint Lucia, February 2-4, 1994. There were sixty-one (61) participants including laity, religious and clergy from eight Caribbean countries and from the USA. The conference was jointly sponsored by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre, Saint Lucia, the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre, Trinidad & Tobago and the Diocesan Pastoral Centre, Commonwealth of Dominica.

The papers presented at this first conference were published by the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre, Saint Lucia under the title Theology in the Caribbean Today 1: Perspectives (ISBN 976-8136-83-9) in 1995 with Patrick A.B. Anthony as editor. The following extract from the editorial gives an overview of this first publication:

“The collection is subtitled Perspectives because it reflects the search for perspectives within the Catholic theological community in the region. No theme was set for this first conference. Speakers were simply asked to share with their colleagues reflections on the work they were doing, their particular area of interest, study or research.

The papers are published in the order in which they were presented. Gabriel Malzaire looks at the history of the Caribbean, its present socio-political and economic situation and suggests some of the issues which will pose a challenge to a Caribbean Christian civilization in the future. Michel de Verteuil continues to champion the case for “Lectio Divina” as a suitable theological method for the Caribbean today. Joseph Harris shares his vast experience in formation, and from that experience, proposes the Christian community as locus and agent of ministerial formation.

Gerald Boodoo’s paper revisits the early efforts at original and creative theological reflection in the region, critiques the seeming stagnation since the 70’s and proposes “Job” as a parable of the mode of being he thinks an appropriate response to the Caribbean predicament. Two young priests then share their struggles at inculturation of the faith in their respective cultural contexts in the Caribbean. Martin Sirju, a Trinidadian of East Indian descent, describes his attempt at Indo-inculturation, and proposes a comparison between the Virgin Mary and the Hindu deity, Lakshmi. Lambert St. Rose, a Saint Lucian of African descent, explains why and how he went about inculturating the Easter Vigil into the Saint Lucian context using the African ancestral ritual, Kélé, as background.

In the penultimate essay of the collection this writer (Patrick A.B. Anthony) examines the changing attitudes towards African Traditional Religion in the Church today and suggests some implications for Afro-Caribbean traditions in Saint Lucia. The final paper, “Why a Caribbean Theology?” is a transcription of an oral response by Robert Schreiter at the end of the conference. As the only international observer invited, he was asked to share his observations with participants.”

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