Saturday 23 March, 2019

Archbishop-elect talks spiritual growth from adversity

Bishop Jason Gordon, confirmed to replace Archbishop Joseph Harris in December.

Bishop Jason Gordon, confirmed to replace Archbishop Joseph Harris in December.

Archbishop-elect of Port-of-Spain Jason Gordon is advising people to rise above adversity when faced with life’s challenges.  

He made the comment as he spoke about an encounter with the law he experienced in Barbados while serving as head of the Catholic Church on the island.

Bishop Gordon was charged with assault and was granted $3,000 bail in a lawsuit that was brought against him by a 41-year-old alter server in December 2016. However, the case was dismissed in July 2017 as the claimant told the court that he no longer wished to pursue the matter.

Addressing the incident during a telephone interview with Loop TT, Bishop Gordon said his experience demonstrated that no one is without sin.

He said, however, that when negative situations arise in one’s life, it is important to remain a servant of God.  

"We are all sinners who are being offered redemption by Christ. There is no one who is perfect. We all have inherited one thing and that is that we will all fall short of what God intends of us and what God wants for us."

"The real challenge in living is in how we respond to the grace of God when we are faced with challenges that come our way and that's the real test of discipleship; that life goes our way, that's easy, everybody can do that but when life doesn't go the way we want it to go, how do we then respond and really reach to the depth of who God calls us to be? And find that there are other depths that we can go to, to become the people that God is shaping us to be. I believe that every adversity that I have ever faced, have made me the man that I am today."

Saying that he was not particularly happy about the incident, the Bishop said he does not plan to shy away from it.

He said he has and will continue to use his experience as a tool to speak with young people who may be challenged in life and might find difficulty in remaining in faith.

"I have been very open with this here in Barbados, I have spoken about it in homilies and I've also had one on one with young people, shared you know, how we deal with life. No one has the pattern or the guarantee of what life is going to bring to you but what we do have is the capacity to respond and the capacity to grow and the capacity to deepen our faith in Christ and for me, every time that I've faced an adversity, that is what has happened to me."

With the various ills affecting T&T nationals, including an economic crisis as a result of the shortfall in oil and gas revenue as well as the crime situation, Bishop Gordon said he was conscious of the challenges before him.

He said he plans to seek new and innovative means to encourage young people who may have fallen behind, to rejoin the Catholic Church.

"We are living in a digital culture where our kids are digital natives and most of the people who are communicating the gospel are analog people who grew up in an analog age and so we have a big cultural divide between those who are sharing and passing on the faith and those who are receiving the faith and we have to bridge that divide so that the digital natives can start to hear the gospel message in their own language and in their own cultural sensitivity."

"That's going to be a big challenge because it will take a lot for people who have grown up in an analog culture, to really start understanding the digital natives and what they need in terms of proclaiming the gospel and helping them to be committed disciples of Christ."

The Archbishop-elect noted that he has journeyed deeply with young people as he has been involved in communications with the Living Water Community which has kept him current in understanding the transformation that communication has brought to society, making him equipped to be a bridge between the "analog and digital age." 

The Bishop, aged 58, said he has made a commitment to understanding and keeping up with the digital era.

He said he is preparing his heart to leave his work in Barbados behind, and take up the mantle to head the Archdiocese in Port of Spain. 

Archbishop Joseph Harris, 75, announced that he was stepping down in March, this year.

The hand over is expected to occur in December.

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