Roman Catholic Bishop Jason Gordon. (FP)
The following is the full statement from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgetown, The Most Rev.Dr. Jason Gordon, Apostolic Administrator
As we celebrate Barbados’ achievements on this 53rd anniversary of Independence, let us first give thanks to God for all our blessings and experiences as an independent nation.
Let us thank Him for the good times, the successes, the experience of hardship and disappointments.
Let us also remember the extraordinary people who selflessly built Barbados –the policy makers, farmers, teachers, civil servants, doctors, judiciary, lawyers, engineers, creatives, entrepreneurs.
Today we have all benefited from the struggles, activism, vision, dreams and actions of our forefathers. So what does 53 years of independence mean for Barbadians today, young and old? Do we fully appreciate the tremendous privilege and responsibility of independence?
Do we take time to reflect on and give thanks for the contribution made by our forefathers, their patience and prayers, their blood, sweat, tears - and in some instances, their lives?
Nation-building is sometimes measured by the achievements or track record of the respective leaders, but every citizen plays a part; every citizen has incredible value and a purpose.
The combined commitment and effort of citizens over the years – our collaboration towards a common purpose - have contributed to our successes as an independent nation.
One extraordinary trait for which Barbadians were known, is our community spirit - lending a helping hand, smiling at a stranger, sharing what we have, listening to a friend.
All this adds to what it means to be Barbadian. Sadly, the habits of other societies – selfishness and ‘me first’ - have become more apparent today, along with crime and violence.
What is our value system? How can we strengthen and give support to the family unit? If we each make an effort to do one thing every day to help others, the cumulative effect of our small actions can create a positive difference in society.
Religious leaders have an important role to play. We have the opportunity to engage our faithful in the pew– young and old – to encourage them to make positive contributions to society, to be compassionate to those in need, to help victims of violence, the unemployed, the poor and marginalized persons. No gesture is too small or insignificant.
By helping others, we add meaning and depth to our own lives and serve as a light in our society, helping others find their way. We should see the face of Jesus in the face of everyone we encounter and assist.
The Holy Father Pope Francis said: “When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many contradictions, is a gift, that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can they withhold the urge to do good to another fellow being?” (John 15:12: ‘My command is this: love each other as I have loved you.’)
Pope Francis further said: "Peace builds bridges, whereas hatred is the builder of walls. You must decide, in life: either I will make bridges or I will make walls. Walls divide and hatred grows: when there is division, hatred grows.
Bridges unite, and when there is a bridge hatred can go away, because I can hear the other and speak with the other. When you shake the hand of a friend, of a person, you make a human bridge. You make a bridge.
Instead, when you strike someone, when you insult another person, you build a wall. Hatred always grows with walls. At times, it may happen that you want to make a bridge and you offer your hand, but the other party does not take it; these are the humiliations that we must suffer in life in order to do good.
But always make bridge.” Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t let yourselves be shaped by the world where you live, but, rather, be transformed through the renewal of your mind. You must discern the will of God: what is good, what pleases, what is perfect.”
This is a powerful message for us as we celebrate and give thanks for the gift of Barbados. I offer congratulations to the Government and people of Barbados and I pray that with God’s guidance, the indefatigable Barbadian spirit and the solid value system of our forefathers will continue to be hallmarks of our people and our nation.