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St. Matthias Parish
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- The History of the Parish of St Matthias
- Profile of the Daughters of the King
- Profile of the Mother’s Union
- Youth Profile – Epiphany
The parish of St Matthias was carved out from the parishes of Holy Savior in the East, All Saints in the North, and Holy Trinity on the West and South. The boundaries of St Matthias therefore are the West bank of the San Juan river, Picton Road in Laventille and the Beetham Estates on the West and South respectively, and the Saddle Road down to Maraval Road on the North. The Parish of St Matthias consists of the church in Laventille as the head, along with St Columba church in Barataria, and the Church of the Epiphany in Morvant.
It can be said that the Parish of St Matthias was established under somewhat fortuitous circumstances. The establishment of the Morvant Housing Development in 1945, resulted in Father Ernest Silman a curate at the Trinity Cathedral taking up residence at Morvant. Father Silman’s duty was to oversee the activities of the church in Laventille. In addition to his duties in Laventille he was to take care of the Anglicans in the newly developing districts.
St. Matthias Parish Churches
he St Matthias church, situated on the Eastern Main Road in Laventille, was the 13th Anglican Church to be built in Trinidad.
According to the Centenary Brochure of the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago, the church was consecrated in June 1855, by Bishop Parry.
The land the church occupies according to some accounts was owned and donated by a prominent slave owner William Pashley.
Although this author was unable to confirm the existence of William Pashley, it is thought that a street which runs from the North to South adjacent to the church is named Pashley Street presumably after the slave owner. Many subscribe to the view that the church was built by the slave owner under the direction of an English architect and using slave Labor. This may very well be an accurate account since it is true that the actual construction began before 1838 the year in which slavery was officially ended. Further reinforcing this account is the view that the church was completed by free laborers under the direction of the English architect.
Also located in the St Matthias church yard is a cemetery which was reserved for members of the congregation and later for members of the Parish. Most non-members in the community were buried at the Laventille Public Cemetery, which adjoined the St Matthias compound. Plots in the St Matthias cemetery remain the property of the family of the interred for seven years. After seven years the allotment is returned to the church. The church has a longstanding policy that no structure or tomb should be erected. This policy had been implemented primarily, because of the limited cemetery space available and because of the fact that the site does not remain the property of the family of the person buried. The site must be returned to the church after seven years. The major prerequisite however for burials at the St Matthias cemetery is that the funeral rites must be in accordance with those of the Anglican church in the Diocese of Trinidad and Tobago. Although the old structure of the St Matthias church remained fairly sturdy there were signs that the need for a new building was eminent. By the mid 1980’s the old structure was simply inadequate for the needs of the community and when it rained water sometimes flooded the old building. It was decided that the 627 square foot structure would be kept as a historical monument.
The need to preserve what was increasingly being recognized as a national heritage brought many ideas for restoration designs. As early as the mid 1980’s, extensive discussions had begun about the prospects of a new church. The then rector John Sewell (1984-1988) was a prominent participant in the restoration discussions. A concerted effort to replace the old structure with a more modern structure was made in the late 1980 and it was decided that a building to hold about three hundred persons and to facilitate both secular and traditional functions was required.
Design of the new St Matthias Anglican Church was contracted to the Architectural firm of Watkins Phillip, Bynoe and Partners. Numerous fund raising ventures were organized to generate the revenue needed for the restoration project. The major revenue earner at that time had been the annual dinner which was started in 1989 solely to raise funds for the building of the new church the tendering process for the building of the new St Matthias church proved to an arduous task.
Eventually the contract was awarded to the lowest bidder which was submitted by the firm of S.K. Bayne and Associates. The Bishop at the time, Reverend Clive Abdullah performed the sod-turning ceremony to commence the building of the church on February 23rd, 1992.
In order to fund the building of the church, contributions were sought from many different avenues. The church was able to acquire a soft loan from the Ecumenical church loan fund (E.C.L.O.F).
Special mention must also be made of the then Bishop Clive Abdullah. Through his efforts, the Church Building fund was able to receive a donation from an anonymous source. The Bishop took a personal interest in the building of the church. The Bishop also conducted Sunday afternoon bible study at the church or at the home of one the members.
aimed at spiritual re-building. There was going to be a new St Matthias not only physically but also spiritually. The Church was also able to raise a considerable sum of money through personal loans by some members and funds that were received from members of the vestry and congregation.
In addition to the Stewardship collected from the members of the three congregations, the church was able to gain support from several firms and individuals. With assistance from Bernard Riley a licensed lay reader at that time the St Matthias restoration project received several contributions from as far as the United States and Canada.
The St Matthias church building effort has been a combination of the efforts of many persons. There are some stalwarts of whom special mention must be made of for their invaluable contributions towards making the dream of a new St Matthias a reality. One such member is Bernard Riley. The completion of the new St Matthias was a realization of a dream for Bernard Riley.
Another stalwart member who has contributed tremendously to the building project was Ms. Grace Murphy. Grace Murphy took a personal interest in the building of the church. It was not an uncommon site to see her during the construction phase seeking the church’s interest; she was also featured prominently in many fund raising activities of the church.
The new section of the church was completed in 1996 and was consecrated on June 3rd, 1997 by the then Bishop Rawle Douglin. The architect described the final product as a “realization of the modern concept but in harmony with the elegance of the existing church, enhancing each other and becoming a cohesive unit, which will stand the test of time and serve the functions of the community at the optimum level of praise and glory’.
St. Matthias Parish Groups
The Daughters of the King is an order for women who are communicants of the Episcopal Church and churches in communion with it, or churches in the Historic Episcopate. The membership includes women in the Anglican Episcopal, Roman Catholic, and Lutheran (ELCA) churches. The Order was founded in 1885 by Margaret J. Franklin at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in New York. The Anglican tradition includes Episcopal oversight. Holy Scripture containing all things necessary for salvation, recognition of the gift of the Holy Spirit in Baptism, the real presence of our Lord in the Holy Eucharist and worship according to The Book of Common Prayer.
Members undertake a Rule of Life, incorporating the Rule of Prayer and the Rule of Service. By reaffirmation of the promises made at Baptism and Confirmation, a Daughter pledges herself to a life-long program of prayer, service and evangelism, dedicated to the spread of Christ’s Kingdom and the strengthening of the spiritual life of her parish.
The Daughters of the King are a group of Christian women striving to fulfill the promises of their Baptismal Covenant through the adoption of a Rule of Life.
- To continue in the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers.
- To persevere in resisting evil, and when they fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord.
- To proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.
- To seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself.
- To strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.
These are women to whom parishioners can look for love and for help in time of need, loneliness or strangeness. They seek to walk with God as their guide and try to draw those with whom they come in contact into the Church. They are women who work to spread Christ’s Kingdom here on earth. They can never forget that prayer is the foundation from which their service grows.
The colors of the Order is White and Blue; White is for purity and the bright light of truth; Blue is for the joyful days of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the vision as Daughters of the King is to know Jesus Christ, to make Him known to others, and become reflections of God’s love throughout the world; to gather Anglican women and girls into a nurturing and empowering community to serve our Lord Jesus Christ as He unites and builds up His Body, the Church.
The mission of this order is the extension of Christ’s Kingdom through Prayer, Service and Evangelism.
Duties and Responsibilities of Membership
A Daughter will love God and have affection for her neighbors. She must always remember that her love for Jesus is only real and true when she does in fact love and practice forbearance to her most unlovely neighbors. A Daughter will pray to Jesus who is her intimate friend. She prays regularly and unceasingly, for prayer is a state of being, not just a physical or verbal position. A Daughter’s life is a prayer born or acted out of love, not fear. A Daughter will serve her King and her service to the King of Kings is only accomplished when she serves in and through His Family, the Holy Church.
To help accomplish this, a Daughter:
- Follows a daily Rule of Life, fulfilling the vows of Prayer and Service.
- Undertakes a personal program of evangelism through prayer and service, working to bring others to Christ through His church.
- Pays her National, Provincial, Diocesan and Chapter dues promptly.
- Participates in offerings to the funds of the Order, the Self-Denial Fund, the Master’s Fund and the Endowment Fund.
- Attends and participates in regular chapter meetings, Diocesan and Provincial Assemblies and cooperates with other church groups whenever possible.
As defined by the Episcopal Church, “Evangelism is the presentation of Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit in such ways that other persons may be led to believe in Him as Saviour and follow him as Lord within the fellowship of the Church.” Each Daughter promises to make a conscientious and constant effort to live out the definition in her life, doing all she can through her words and deeds to bring others, especially women and girls, into a relationship with Jesus and into the fellowship of the Church.
Through evangelism, the Daughters try to reach those who do not know the love of Jesus Christ. Each Daughter make a conscious effort to reach out to those who are new in the community and looking for a church home, to those who are in hospitals, to shut-ins and to those in sorrow or personal trouble. The Daughters do all they can to help newcomers experience God’s love through the fellowship of the Church.
The Daughters recognize that their faith is not to be a private faith hidden in their hearts. Their faith is to be lovingly and joyously proclaimed so that Jesus Christ, lifted up in their lives and in their words, might draw all to Him, that all might experience His love and saving grace.
This Branch was formed on 24th February, 1952 and is now celebrating its 60th Anniversary in 2012. The first enrolling member was Mrs. Silman, wife of the Parish Priest. Later, the branch was launched with thirty women. The inauguration service was conducted by Rev. Silman who was the Parish Priest at the time along with Dean Holt. They pledged to carry out the aim, purpose and objectives of the Mother’s Union as set out by Mrs. Mary Summer, the founder of this organization. They were dedicated and committed to their goals, that is, fostering family life and advancement in Christian religion; bringing up their children to love God and be caring responsible adults.
During those period members of the branch completed projects such as tea-parties, outings, and visits to the St. Mary’s Children Home making donations and giving supplies; also monthly visits were made at the Mental Home and the sick and shut in with the priest and clothing was donated.
The members’ distributed food items, clothing and other items to those in need during the Christmas Season. Various methods were used to collect the contribution such as, The Blessing Jug, and a Flower Box. The contribution was used for bereavement gifts, wreaths etc. The members also engaged in handicraft under the shed at the back of the church before the present structure was built.
Several projects were implemented during the period 1995-2012 to help in the upliftment of the church, such as, fund raising events – tea parties, cake sales etc. Also, children who successfully completed the SEA examinations were awarded monetary gifts.
The branch participated in all Diocesan and Regional Activities, fundraisers, training etc. Visits were made to the shut-ins and sick persons in the Parish. Also, visits were made to St. Mary’s Orphanage Home and the Mother’s Union Home for children. The St. Matthias Mother’s Union Branch was twinned with St. Gabriel’s Mother’s Union of La Romain and has an existing relationship with constant fellowship that still exists among our Sisters in Christ. While the membership grew by ten (10) new members it also decreased by ten (10) members who are now deceased. At present there are three (3) shut-ins. Currently there are twelve (12) active members who continue to uphold the aim, purpose and objects of the Mother’s Union.
This branch was formed in June 1945 by Ms. Elaine Joseph with a membership of approximately thirty six (36) persons. They acknowledged the objectives of the constitution which included the provision of marriage and family life awareness. Monthly Meetings were held every second Tuesday and on the fourth Tuesday visits were made to the Shut-Ins. Fundraising activities included concerts at which the members themselves were the actors and actresses. The groups were invited by other Churches to participate and perform in their events. The Funds raised from these events enabled the Mothers Union to provide clothing to children; the Mothers Union also went on tours to other Caribbean Island. The last fundraising event was a tea party that included dramatic activities.
During Lenten Season the Mothers’ Union meets on Tuesdays two hours before the mission services to discuss the Women of the Bible. On the first Tuesday of the season, the President of the Diocesan Mothers Union visited the Parish of St. Matthias to explain and provide clarity on several areas concerning the importance of knowing about the Women of the Bible. A great part of the funds were given to the Parish to assist with various projects and also towards the tuning of the steel pans; children party and other church related matters.
The members did manual labour towards the building of the present church; other members provided the workmen with meals; others assisted in cleaning and maintenance of the Altar. Though the membership reduced drastically, the Mothers Union still remains committed to their organization and cause.
Without our young people, there will be no continuity, everything we value and hold sacred, would cease to exist. We as the Church realize the importance of our Youth as Pillars of the Church and from the initial stages of Sunday School, which we use as a building block we seek through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, to lay a firm foundation in Christian Education, showing them their direct link and dependence on Creator God for their very existence. At times we dramatize the Holy Scripture in modern day setting to show that even though “The Word” was written thousands of years ago, it is still alive and applies to today. We continually aim to cement the love of God in their hearts and minds, reminding them of their duty to God and their neighbor.
We emphasize the importance of daily prayer and Bible Reading, so that they could build a personal relationship with God and be empowered through the Holy Spirit to do the will of God.
Over the years, our Sunday school has participated in Sunday School Rallies in various locations in the Diocese (St. Mary’s, St. Christopher’s, St. Michael’s, St. Andrews, and Hayes Court). These rallies are organized on an annual basis by the Prayer and Spirituality Committee of the Mothers’ Union of the Diocese. This enables the children to interact with other children from various Parishes within the Anglican Diocese, and as part of the day’s activities; we have offered items of drama and song.
At a competitive level, our children have participated in the Bible Quiz and Skit Competition and were successful as follows
On an annual basis, Our Sunday School & Youth Group show appreciation on Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day, dramatizing stories on Mothers and Fathers of the bible, which further helps to imbed God’s word in their hearts and minds.
Our Youth on several occasions have also participated in “Happening” which is a weekend retreat for youth of our Diocese held annually at Victory Heights. All the above mentioned exercises are geared towards deepening the spirituality of our young people thereby guiding them along the path for the fulfilling of God’s plan and purpose for lives.
Our young people also serve on our Parish Vestry and the North West Regional Youth Council.