DAY 2 : JUNE 14
The Kalinago of Dominica
After a very early morning walk/exercise routine (for those so inclined), Mass and breakfast, the first full formal conference day began with Chase Hyder’s presentation on “Inculturation among the Kalinago in Dominica”. Chase Hyder has a Master of Theological Studies degree and is a member of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, a branch of the Roman Rite grounded in the English patrimony of the Catholic Church. Young, enthusiastic and eager to share how living for six months and being “in relation” with the indigenous Kalinago people, Chase illumined the dynamism of the teachings of Vatican II on inculturation and incarnational theology, using the church of St Mary of the Caribs and its canoe altar as reference points. With his power point presentation we experienced the unique architecture (A-frame, triangular shape) of the church and, among other aspects of Kalinago culture. We learnt of the process of making a canoe, the search for the right tree and the communal experience of this process in all its stages.
Tuesday afternoon’s two sessions reinforced once again the interdisciplinary nature of the Caribbean Theology Conference – anthropology, sociology, theology, literature, education… Mary and Marian devotion was the topic of both Sharon Syriac and “Terry” Tsuji. Sharon Syriac is a Senior Instructor at the University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT) and currently a doctoral candidate in Cultural Studies at the University of the West Indies (UWI) St Augustine.
Dr Teruyuki “Terry” Tsuji of the National Museum of Ethnology of Japan, is a Research Fellow at the University of the West Indies. Their different but related presentations on Mary, La Divina Pastora made for an afternoon of stimulating discussion.
Ms Syriac’s presentation entitled “Conversations About Inculturation & Indigenization: Public Reactions to the Madonna Murti documentary in Trinidad” questioned the meaning of indigenization and inculturation in the Catholic Church. It focussed on the diverse reactions of Trinbagonian Catholics to the screenings of the documentary, suggesting that that the responses provide insights into the dynamics of interethnic relations in T &T, the heterogeneity of the Catholic community, the manner in which Catholics use inclusion and exclusion to define ourselves, and how we may privilege certain parts of our culture while suppressing other elements. Sharon began writing articles for the Catholic News as a teenager and had recorded sermons given at La Divina Pastora since the 1980s.
Dr Tsuji’s presentation was entitled, “The Power of Mary in Trinidad: Inspiration and Seduction for the Post/Colonial Production of Religions.” Dr Tsuji has worked closely with Fr Martin Sirju in doing his research on Siparia’s La Divin. Due to preparation for the celebration of his 25th anniversary of priesthood on June 23, Fr Sirju was unable to be physically present at this 18th conference. His presence and influence, however was certainly experienced.
Memorial Lecture : “Nuff Respect”
At the 2014 Conference held in Trinidad a decision was taken that the Founders’ Lecture would be a feature of every conference. These lectures celebrate the life and work of founding members/participants, not specifically the founders of the conference. They would be open to the public and would alternate between The Cheryl Herrera Memorial Lecture and The Idris Hamid Memorial Lecture. This year’s Cheryl Herrera Memorial Lecture was delivered by Dr Alison Mc Letchie, an Assistant Professor at Claflin University in South Carolina. Dr Mc Letchie’s MA in Anthropology with the title “Incidents of Douglarization: The Worship of La Divina Pastora in Trinidad” hints at the appropriateness of the conference’s choice of her to deliver the St Lucia Memorial Lecture.
Dr Mc Letchie’s presentation, “Nuff Respect: Claiming Space for Women in the
Caribbean Church”, used calypso as her data source. The lyrics of Sparrow, David Rudder, Baron, Fay Ann Lyons, Destra stimulating critical reflection on the role of women in the Caribbean Church. Jamaican Catholic theologian, Dr Anna Kasafi Perkins’ response was no less thought-provoking — “Ooman, Small up in the Space”. The light-hearted image of the ram-crammed maxi-taxi (mini-bus) prevalent not only in her native Jamaica but throughout the Caribbean, providing reliable mobility, but stifling flexibility and change, gave lie to the deep implications of always having to “small up”. To quote Dr Perkins, senior programme officer, Quality Assurance, UWI (Mona), “Caribbean women have been deformed from being forced to small up themselves in the ecclesial space. ‘Nuff respect’ for the women and men who have helped all God’s people get to know Him, love Him and His creation”.
(Compiled for the Editorial Committee by June Johnston with contributions from Ramon Luzarraga & Bernadette Salandy)
For continuation : cf. WHO ARE WE? DAY 3