Wednesday, November 21, 2012 was indeed an historic and significant day for the Benedictine Community at Coubaril as they gathered together under the leadership of Lady Abbess Mother Marianna Pinto to give thanks to God and to celebrate the silver anniversary of the Consecration of the Church and Blessing of the Cloister.  These events actually took place on August 15, 1987.  November 21, Feast of the Presentation of Our Blessed Lady, was also the fifth anniversary of the Abbatial Blessing of Mother Marianna and the elevation of the monastery to the status of an Abbey.

It was indeed a joyful and blessed occasion.  The sanctuary of the Church was appropriately decked with clusters of white anthuriums befitting the occasion, and the weather, bright and sunny.  At approximately 5.30 pm Monsignor Patrick Anthony, as animator and chairperson, extended a warm welcome to the clergy headed by His Grace, Archbishop Robert Rivas O.P., together with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Nicola Girasoli, several priests of the Archdiocese as well as a number of permanent deacons.  Msgr. Anthony also welcomed Her Excellency, Dame Pearlette Louisy, other distinguished guests, parishioners  and friends  of the Abbey.

The animator took time out to recall the events of twenty-five years ago and a number of the leading personalities who were present on that occasion but have now passed on to their external reward:  Archbishop Patrick Webster O.S.B; Mr. Peter Bergasse, the then chairman of the Building Committee; Mr. Wayne Brown, the contractor.  Mention was also made of Archbishop Emeritus Kelvin Felix, whose leadership and encouragement was central to the success of the project.  A visiting Cardinal, Most Rev…Gagnon……………………………… was also present  and addressed the congregation.  Mr. Clem Bobb was also a member of that committee, and being present on this occasion, he was duly recognized.

Monsignor Anthony then invited the faithful to join the clerical and religious procession as they processed through the atrium of the cloister to the singing of the “Canticle of the Sun”.  That experience was truly spirit-filled and moving as we passed through the portals of the cloister with its green plants and flowers so different from the blessing ceremony of 25 years ago.
Archbishop Robert Rivas was Chief Celebrant at the Eucharistic Liturgy and concelebrating clergy included the Apostolic Nuncio and all priests who were present.  Rev. Tom Alexander and Rev. Errol Frederick assisted the Archbishop as deacons at the Mass.  The animator also recognized and paid well-deserved tribute to Rev. Bertram Clauzel, the first permanent deacon ordained in this archdiocese  almost 40 years ago.  Rev. Nathalbert Husbands and Rev. Girard Glace, silver jubilarians of the permanent deacons were also duly recognized and congratulated.
Archbishop Nicola Girasoli. Apostolic Nuncio to the Antilles was the homilist at this silver jubilee liturgy of thanksgiving.  In his usual dynamic and energetic style he began firstly by thanking God for the growth and development of the Abbey and its recent off-shoot and extension to Chipata in Zambia.  He thanked God for Mother Marianna whom he described as a “blessing to St. Lucia, the Caribbean and this region of the world”.  On behalf of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI he gave thanks to Mother Marianna and recalled how impressed he was on reading the issue of the CATHOLIC CHRONICLE of 25 years  ago which recorded the consecration of the Church and the large congregation which was present.  The Apostolic Nuncio also paid tribute to Archbishop Felix and to Bishop Pio Pinto, Mother’s brother who has worked alongside her to make this “dream come true”.  This sibling relationship, he likened to that of St. Benedict and St. Scholastica in the founding of the Benedictine monks and nuns.


Archbishop Girasoli encouraged Mother and the Benedictine Community to continue to dream as they look ahead to the next 25 years and the many possibilities which lie ahead.  He made an appeal for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and he urged the Nuns to be always faithful to their vocation; to be proud of that vocation and of the Abbey and in this way attract  many more to their way of life.  The Benedictine Community has grown from five to fifteen nuns with the recruitment from Zambia.

The music ministry was truly joyful, animated and spirit-filled backed by the drums and chac chac of the Zambian Nuns.  During the Offertory Procession one of the nuns carried on her head a basket of fruits and vegetables, the produce of the Abbey gardens.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Archbishop Rivas addressed the faithful.  He described the growth of the monastery as a journey, both physical and spiritual.  He reminded all that no journey is complete until we meet God face to face.  To the surprise of many, he declared that he was in St. Lucia 25 years ago, when he attended the Ordination of Fr. Athanase Joseph. He congratulated the Presentation Brothers on this their patronal feast, and in particular, Bro.De Lellis O’Sullivan, now 85 years old and with 58 years of service in the Caribbean.

The Archbishop was strong in his praise of Mother Marianna whom he said had been a tremendous inspiration to him, and for which he was grateful.  Like Mother in her new status as Abbess, he also had completed 5 years as Archbishop of Castries.  He had seen the joys, hopes and possibilities  in Chipata.  This, he described as vision and faith in action.
Lady Abbess Marianna, in her reply, thanked all those who had worked alongside her.  She singled out Mr. Brad Paul, the Quantity Surveyor who was present in the congregation and asked him to stand.  She stated that he together with Mr. Peter Bergasse had been her chief advisors and assistants in the building of the Abbey Church.  She sees herself as simply a channel in God’s hands and gave all praise and thanks to Him.

It was most fitting that this Sacred Liturgy of Thanksgiving should conclude with the singing of the Magnificat, Our Lady’s beloved canticle of praise, humility and thanksgiving.  After that it was time for silver jubilee photographs of the Benedictines with the two Archbishops, the Governor-General, and Msgr. Anthony.  The assembly was then invited to tasty, delicious cocktails in the Abbey  Lounge.


...event photos...



©2012 Benedictine Nuns