A Mass celebrated in Spanish by Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Nicola Girasoli and Tea with Our Lady of Montserrat (“Te con Nuestra Senora de Montserrat”) marked Tortuga’s commemoration of the Feast of Our Lady of Montserrat.
The Tortuga church is nestled in the Montserrat Hills in Trinidad’s central range. The area was named by Spanish settlers after the Montserrat Mountains of Catalonia in the region of Barcelona, Spain.
Although it is unknown when the statute of Our Lady of Montserrat, also called “La Moreneta”, came to Tortuga, it is believed that it was brought by Capuchin missionaries. The wooden statue in Tortuga is said to be a replica of a statue of Our Lady in a shrine in Montserrat, Spain.
In honour of the Spanish spiritual ancestors, Te con Nuestra Senora de Montserrat (Tea with Our Lady of Montserrat) and the Spanish Mass were held on April 27 – the feast day of Our Lady of Montserrat. Non-Spanish speaking attendees followed in booklets and through translations by Tortuga Parish Priest Fr Alan Hall.
Fr Glyn Jemmott also spoke fluent Spanish as he offered prayers during the Mass.
Archbishop Girasoli, for whom this was his first visit to the 135-year-old church, did the homily in English. He told the congregation that Our Lady was always giving the best direction to her Son and led the way to Him.
The children from the Tortuga Primary School sang the recessional song, which happened to be their winning composition from the first ever Joseph T Rostant Hymn to Our Lady of Montserrat competition, held during the 2012 Tea with Our Lady.
“Our Lady on the Hills” was performed under the direction of the school’s principal Theresa Roberts. Another of the compositions from the competition, “Mama Maria”, was sung by the
Montserrat Sisters as the entrance hymn.
The inclement weather prevented the usual procession with the statue of Our Lady from the church to the Tortuga Presbytery. However, “La Moreneta” – on which restoration works were recently completed by Marian devotees from Citizens for Conservation – was paraded throughout the church.
Members of the congregation then made their way under umbrellas to the presbytery’s grounds and the inviting ambience at the Tea with Our Lady event.
A Spanish menu of empanadas, bollito, arepas and dulces was served along with local favourites.
Guitarists Patrick Gouveia, Anthony Gibbons and Lorraine Neves set a soothing mood with music which had a Spanish flair. Singer Turon Roberts-Nicholas warmed the atmosphere under the tents with renditions of “Ave Maria” and “His Eye is on the Sparrow”.
To the delight of many, several door prizes were distributed by master of ceremonies Louis Dulal-Whiteway.
The Shrine Committee has dubbed 2013 the Year of the Spanish and in December it will host an Advent/Christmas Carol Service and Country Christmas Food Festival. Food of Spanish/Latin American origin will be featured as part of the Food Festival and it is anticipated that art from the Spanish/Latin American regions will be on sale at the event.
Over the years, with the assistance of then parish priest Fr Steve Duncan, the Shrine Committee – headed by Diane Bertrand – has introduced several initiatives including Marian devotions every Saturday and a gift shop and museum at the church, known for its many statues and beautiful stained glass windows.