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John Paul II's Apostolic Visit to Saint Lucia

Blessed John Paul II was a pilgrim to Saint Lucia on Monday, 7th July 1986, during his 30th apostolic journey, on which he also visited Colombia.

Pope John Paul II's Address at the Welcome Ceremony
Vigie Airport of Castries - in English & Italian

"Your Excellency the Governor-General, Mr Prime Minister, Archbishop Felix, Distinguished members of the Government, Dear people of Saint Lucia,

1. I am very happy to be here in your beloved country. For a long time I have wanted to pay you a visit, and now I thank God for the joy I experience in fulfilling this desire. Thank you, Your Excellency, for your kind words of welcome. I am grateful to you for making me feel so much at home. As I begin this visit, I greet most cordially all of you who have come to receive me in such a warm and friendly manner. And I wish to extend my personal greetings to all the people of this land. I hope that you will see in my visit a clear expression of the esteem and respect that I have for you all, as well as a symbol of the special pastoral love which I have for my brothers and sisters of the Catholic faith.

2. I am aware that the Catholic Church has contributed in a very significant way to the development of Saint Lucia. By her firm commitment to the welfare of your nation, particularly in the field of education, and by her witness to the inalienable dignity and equality of every human person, she has helped people to develop and use their personal gifts and capacities and to exercise with responsibility their roles in society. She has done this out of a genuine spirit of fraternal love, and in effective collaboration with other Christians and with all men and women of good will. I hope that this pastoral visit will strengthen my brothers and sisters in the Church to continue along this path and to make even greater progress for the well-being of all.

3. As you know, the United Nations Organization has declared 1986 the International Year of Peace. I heartily welcome this initiative, since the Church has always sought to be a servant of peace and reconciliation in the world. This has become increasingly important in our technological age when the weapons of destruction far surpass anything ever imagined in times past and when people of good will everywhere feel the need for greater harmony and fraternal collaboration.

I know that as a nation you are committed to this lofty goal. Your own history, once marked by repeated struggles between different Governments, has without a doubt made even more firm your commitment and determination in this regard. You are well aware of the need to seek peaceful solutions to conflicts and to Promote dialogue and trust between peoples. This is well expressed in your National Anthem, where we find the words: "Gone the days when strife and discord
Dimmed her childrens’ ton and rest,
Dawns at last a brighter day,
Stretches out a glad new way."

As you continue to build a "glad new way" in Saint Lucia, may your efforts contribute to the harmony and cooperation of all peoples within the international community.

4. "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God". These words of our Lord Jesus Christ give us immense encouragement and hope. They remind us what a blessing it is to do the will of God and to work for peace and justice in the world. May you always be worthy of being called children of God. And may this pastoral visit help to bring joy and hope to all the people of Saint Lucia. God bless you all."

Blessed John Paul II's Homily at Holy Mass
for the Faithful at Reduit Park - in English & Italian

1. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing". On this special day, when I have the great joy of celebrating the Eucharist with you here in Saint Lucia, let our first thoughts be thoughts of praise and thanksgiving to the Triune God: the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

How good it is to join our voices as one in the praise of God’s holy name, to glorify the Lord for the gift of our faith. I have looked forward to this moment with great anticipation, and I give thanks to God that his loving providence has made it possible for me to be with you today. My feelings are well expressed in the words of St Paul which we have just listened to in the First Reading: "Because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers."

2. In today’s Gospel, our Lord says to St Peter: “I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.” These words of Christ have particular meaning for me as the Successor of Saint Peter. For they indicate the specific mission in the Church given to Peter and to all those who were to come after him and continue his office. They indicate my own mission in the Church today: namely, to strengthen my brothers and sisters in the faith.

It is because of this mission entrusted to me by Christ that I feel called to undertake my pastoral journeys, to visit the local Churches around the world. This is why I am here with you today: I come as the Successor of St Peter, to encourage you in the name of Jesus and to confirm you in your faith.

3. And what a wondrous blessing is the gift of faith, the gift of knowing and believing in the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. With this precious gift the Lord has blessed us all. We celebrate it in this Eucharist. The words of St Paul describe our situation. In Christ, he says, you “have heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him.”

The Gospel was first brought to Saint Lucia more than three centuries ago, when French settlers arrived accompanied by some priests. From that time on, faith in Christ has had an influence on the development of your land. But continual struggles between different governments for control of the Island made sustained evangelization difficult in those first hundred years. Nevertheless, a number of the faithful held firmly to their belief in Christ, and the Church took ever deeper root in the hearts of the people.

As early as 1820, a group of lay people began the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary, an organization which combined fervent devotion to the Mother of God with a genuine practice of charity and fraternal service. Even though slavery was still part of civil society at that time, the Confraternity bore witness to the equal dignity of all by welcoming slaves as members. This first association, and numerous other lay societies which were begun thereafter, give clear evidence of the vitality of the faith in your land and of the vital role of the laity in the mission of the Church.

Throughout the history of Saint Lucia, God has blessed you with zealous priests and religious. The first women religious arrived in 1847, and within a month they had already opened a school to teach young people. This first initiative was soon followed by many others. And no one can doubt the enormous contribution to the development and culture of Saint Lucia which has been made through the generous efforts of your priests working in harmony with the men and women religious. Although always fewer in number than the needs required, they tried to make up for this by their dedication and zeal.

With the constant growth of the Church on this Island, it was finally possible in 1956 to establish the Diocese of Castries. Then, only 18 years later, it was raised to the rank of an Archdiocese, with the first Archbishop being a worthy son of your own land, Archbishop Patrick Webster. God’s grace has indeed been at work in your midst. The history of the Church in Saint Lucia bears witness to the goodness and mercy of God, to “the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe”.

4. The gift of faith "enlightens the eyes of our hearts”, giving us a new vision of life and of the world. Every human event takes on a new perspective when we know that God is our loving Father who watches over us with gentleness and compassion. And having been “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit” in Baptism and Confirmation, we are sent forth to live our faith, “to employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace”.

The first response to the gift of faith is praise and gratitude, and this is accomplished especially in the Church’s greatest act of worrship: the Eucharist. A deep faith always expresses itself in a fervent love for the Eucharist, for it is at Mass that we hear the word of Life and share in the Body and Blood of Christ our Lord. I urge you therefore to make Sunday Mass and frequent Communion a regular part of your lives, in fact the centre and summit of all you are and do.

Faith, which we have received as a gift, must in turn be put into practice. St James tells us that “faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead”. That is why I am so pleased at all the efforts you are making to practise your faith. An excellent example of this is the Pastoral Theme which you have chosen for the Archdiocese this year: “Strengthen our faith, Redeemer”. I am confident that this deserving initiative will bring you many graces as you continually practise your faith through prayer and good works.

We also need to deepen our knowledge of the faith through reading, study and prayer. This enables us to share that faith with other, to help others to rejoice in the Good News of salvation. Our faith also causes us to work for justice and to serve the needs of others. As Baptism confers on us the great dignity of being brothers and sisters in Christ, so we are called to work for the dignity and equality of every human being.

Our faith invites us in a particular way to promote the dignity of the Christian family, in accordance with God’s unchanging plan. The married love of husband and wife must reflect by its fidelity and permanence the love of Christ for his Church. Married couples are called to be a communion of persons sharing in the creative activity of God and providing education for their children. Our faith emphasizes that “the family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love”. Every effort of the community to defend and strengthen the family is a great contribution to the whole nation. Every effort made by Christians to be faithful to God’s plan for human love and human life is an expression of living faith.

5. Together with the gift of faith, God has blessed your country with youth and vitality. You are a new nation, having achieved independence only 7 years ago. And you are blessed with a large population of young people. When I think of your youthful vigour, I am reminded of what Archbishop Richard P. Smith wrote when he visited your country in 1841: “There is a glorious future in store for the Church in Saint Lucia.” Yes, there is a glorious future in store for you, if you build that future on the solid foundation of the Gospel and upon truly human values. The future is not merely given to us, nor is it forced upon us. We must cooperate with God to achieve it. And this requires virtues and discipline: the virtues of honesty and truthfulness, the virtue of fidelity to promises, the discipline of prayer and sacrifice, and the discipline of personal effort and fraternal collaboration. If you truly make these a part of your lives, then the words of Archbishop Smith will prove true.

6. I would now like to address a few words to the youth of Saint Lucia. Dear young friends: the future of your nation belongs to you, for you are the leaders of tomorrow. As you plan and prepare for the future, it is right that you should aspire to greatness, that you should wish to accomplish great things in your lives. May you never give up these desires, but remain always men and women of high principles and hopes. And remember what Jesus teaches us about greatness, about who is the greatest: “Let the greatest among you”, he says, “become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.” It was precisely in this way that Jesus revealed the greatness of his love. That is why he said of himself: “I am among you as one who serves.”

I also desire to repeat to you what I wrote to all the youth of the world in my Apostolic Letter of Palm Sunday last year: "Do not be afraid of the love that places clear demands on people. These demands - as you find them in the constant teaching of the Church - are precisely capable of making your love a true love.” May you always aspire to greatness, to the greatness of generous service, and may you be ever eager to love God and your neighbour, whatever the cost. God has loved you with an infinite and tender love, and you must repay love with love.

In this context, dear young friends, I ask you to consider prayerfully what vocation Christ is calling you to in the Church. The Church looks to you with great hope. For the mission of the Church is so vast. And as Jesus said: “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few.” What a great need there is for married couples whose generous and faithful love for one another reflects the love of Christ for the Church! And great is the need for priests and religious, for messengers of the Good News of salvation. Surely the Lord who cares for his flock is calling many of you to these vocations in the Church. Listen to him, then, in the quiet of your heart And answer willingly when you hear him say: “Follow me!"

7. Dear young people, and all of you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I encourage you in the words of the Letter to the Hebrews: “Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” If we keep our eyes fixed on Christ, be will lead us to perfect faith, he will show us the way to fullness of joy in his presence.

It was faith which sustained your ancestors in all their sufferings and trials. And the same light of faith will guide you safely into the twenty-first century, and even more importantly to eternal life. Never doubt the goodness and mercy of God and “the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe”.

Zanfan Bon Dye, pwen kouwaj, mete konfyans ou an Bon Dye. (Children of God, take courage, put your trust in God).

Blessed John Paul II's Words to the Sick and Handicapped
Meeting at the Cathedral of Castries - in English & Italian

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. “GRACE TO YOU and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. It is a joy to come to the Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Castries and to greet all of you who are gathered here today, especially the sick, the handicapped and the elderly, and those who care for them.

One of the most striking aspects of the public ministry of Jesus was his particular love for those suffering. He willingly went out to the sick and the crippled, the deaf and the blind. He touched, blessed and healed them. He forgave their sins. He offered them consolation and hope by proclaiming to them the Gospel of salvation. Above all, through his own suffering and death and by the victory of his Resurrection, he revealed the fullness of the Father’s love and opened the way to eternal life.

2. Through the hands and hearts of his followers, and in the word of God and the Sacraments, Christ continues today to touch those who suffer. At the same time, he invites the sick and the afflicted themselves to share in the mission of the Church, to bring to completion in their own bodies what is lacking in the suffering of Christ.

3. As we gather today in this Cathedral and as we ponder the mystery of human suffering and human weakness, I remind you of the words of St Paul: “You are God’s temple and... God’s Spirit dwells in you.” No amount of suffering can obscure this truth of our faith. Nothing can take away or destroy your human dignity. For your bodies have become dwelling-places for God. The Lord has made his home in you.

4. I assure you of my prayers for you each day. And I also ask for your own prayers, for myself and for my ministry, for the needs of the Church and the world. In a particular way, I ask you to offer your prayers and suffering for the work of evangelization, so that all the world may come to know and believe in Jesus Christ the Son of God, who has become our Redeemer and our Lord.

And I encourage all of you who make up this Archdiocese of Castries to be ever more aware of the needs of the sick, the poor and the handicapped and to do everything in your power to help them in the name of Jesus. I ask God to sustain you in your generous activities and to prosper the work of your zealous associations.

To all of you and to your families and loved ones I impart my Apostolic Blessing.

Mwen car manday Bon Dye pour bennie zot toute en nom le Pere et le Fils et le Sainte Esprit. (May God bless you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit)."

Pope John Paul II's Address at the Farewell Ceremony
International Airport of Hewanorra, Saint Lucia Island - in English & Italian

Mr Prime Minister, Archbishop Felix, distinguished members of the Government, dear people of Saint Lucia,

It is already time for me to conclude my pastoral visit to your beautiful land, a visit which, in the name of God, I have had the great joy of making in answer to the kind invitation I received, and in keeping with my own great desire of meeting with my dear brothers and sisters of Saint Lucia. In the various meetings I have had, particularly in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, I have been able to carry out the divine command which I, as Successor of St Peter, have received from the Lord, namely, to confirm my brothers in the faith.

My short but intense stay among you has been indeed an occasion of great grace for me, as I hope it has been for all of you. I shall cherish the memory of this visit highly in my heart, and will give expression to that memory in my daily prayer. I am indeed grateful to Almighty God for having given me the opportunity of meeting with the Church in Saint Lucia, a Church truly full of vitality and generosity, a Church united in the bond of charity, bringing to fruition the great hope expressed some one-and-a-half centuries ago by Archbishop Richard Smith when he said: “There is a glorious future for the Church in Saint Lucia.”

I am very happy to have been with you, to have walked among you, and to have seen you face to face. I truly appreciated your warm hospitality and cordial welcome. You have opened wide to me your homes and your hearts, and now, as I come to say goodbye, I wish to leave with you all the same exhortations which I made to the people of the whole world at the beginning of my Pontificate: “Throw open your doors to Christ! Do not be afraid! Accept his message in your lives! Make room for him in your hearts!” Men and women of Saint Lucia, be living witnesses in your daily lives to the Good News of salvation. And remember this: the Lord is never outdone in generosity.

I desire to express my deep gratitude to the authorities of Saint Lucia for the many expressions of kindness and courtesy which they have shown me during this short but intense pastoral visit. I pray to the Lord to bless and sustain them in their efforts to ensure for the country a bright future in peace, justice and well-being, both spiritual and material.

In a particular way I thank all those who have worked so hard to make this visit possible. My gratitude goes to the pastor of this Archdiocese, to the priests, the religious men and women, and to all those who are engaged in pastoral activity. Thank you for your generous dedication in service to your brothers and sisters, and particularly in your pastoral concern for the poor, the sick and the abandoned. May the Lord reward you all abundantly.

And now, as I prepare to leave you, my mind turns to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church. May she take you all under her maternal protection and may she guide you to an even closer and more personal relationship with her Son, Jesus.

I invoke upon you all, dearly beloved people of Saint Lucia, the copious blessings of Almighty God, as I bless you with my Apostolic Blessing. God bless the country of Saint Lucia. God bless you all. Thank you.

JPII - Farewell Speech, Saint Lucia, 7 July 1986 - © Copyright 1986 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana