Tue | Dec 12, 2017

Archbishop of Kingston urges social re-engineering to counter evil activities

Published:Friday | September 22, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
From left: Raimona Gowie-Roberts, head girl, St Catherine High School; His Grace Archbishop Kenneth Richards; and Michael Montaque, head boy, St Catherine High School, lower a broadleaf tree into the soil on the grounds of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Kingston yesterday.

Jamaicans are being urged to re-engage in the long-held practice of love for neighbour and oneself in order to re-engineer socially accepted norms in the society.

The call was made by His Grace Kenneth Richards at a special tree-planting ceremony in recognition of his elevation as archbishop of Kingston at the Holy Cross Catholic Cathedral.

"As a nation, we are faced with challenges. And like our personal lives and indicative of this tree that is to be planted, I wish that each of us would plant a tree or a seed that really changes the lives of people we know," he said.

"As we continue to debate and explore the core values that will augur well for nation building and advancement, I would like to propose the following values: respect for self, respect for others, and loyalty to country," the archbishop said.

Richards, who was installed as the seventh Roman Catholic archbishop of Kingston in 2016, also served as a member of the Council of the Institute of Jamaica and chairman of the board of the Programmes Coordination Division, Junior Centre, from 2008 to 2011.

He told the gathering that it was important to find love for those considered our neighbours but that finding love and respect must begin with oneself.

"Love and respect for self will lead to love and respect for others. That is what is essentially missing in Jamaica at this time."

The archbishop said that he was optimistic about the future of Jamaica in spite of the negative impact brought on because of the crime wave, corruption, and indiscipline.

Optimistic about Ja's future

"I am optimistic about the future of this country, " said the archbishop of Kingston, Kenneth Richards. "Therefore, as this endemic tree is planted today, may each Jamaican make a commitment to plant the virtuous seeds of respect for self, respect for others, and loyalty to country so that by these values, we can make for a better Jamaica.

"If we developed genuine commitment and love for our country, what a better place Jamaica would be. But often, our mode of operating promotes self-interest above country. So while some persons succeed, the well-being of many suffer and the advancement of our country is retarded."

Vivian Crawford, executive director of the Institute of Jamaica, said that the institute took the decision to honour Archbishop Richards for his years of service to the institute.

"We took the decision because of his contribution to the institute and that of nation building through the Church to our heritage," Crawford said.

Crawford told the story how one summer, Richards was informed of a situation where the Junior Centre had to turn away children because there was a lack of available seats.

As the story goes, Richards, who was a monsignor at the time, asked how many seats were needed and was told 25.

"He got 51 chairs for us, and the chairs are still in use today. Such is the measure of the man. So through the council, we thought it best to recognise him by planting a tree in his honour," Crawford said.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com