In a historic move Garifuna pastoral leaders including clergy, religious and laity representing five dioceses and four countries, New York, USA, Trujillo and San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Izabal, Guatemala and Belize gathered to discuss the issue of inculturation at the Diocesan Pastoral Center in Belize City, February 25-27, 2011. The meeting was hosted by Barbara Flores, SCN, and Fr. Larry Necasio, Pastor of St. Ignatius Parish in Belize City. It provided an opportunity for prayer, sharing of history, conversation, visioning and planning.

The objectives of this initial gathering included the following:

  • To provide a forum among church leaders to speak with each other and probe the meaning of being Garifuna and Catholic. 
  • To dialog on their experience of the Catholic faith in relation to their understanding of Garifuna living traditions — its spirituality and worldview. 
  • To explore the possibility of forming teams comprised of individuals of diverse backgrounds and disciplines to lead faith communities in an ongoing reflection on Garifuna cosmology and spirituality in relation to the Catholic faith.

A few highlights of our time together:

The group shared experiences and heartfelt stories of growing up Garifuna and Catholic with parents deeply committed to the Catholic faith but ambivalent about practicing Garifuna cultural traditions. In some instances the Church insisted that the traditions of Garifuna spirituality were wrong and had to be let go.

For many the awareness of the need to deepen in understanding came later as adults recognizing the gift of Vatican 2 and its emphasis on the Church being in dialog with the living traditions of the people. It was unanimous that this first gathering was a new moment for all. Plans were made to move forward with a process of ongoing conversation and reflection with interested individuals within the dioceses represented.

The group also worked diligently on translating into Garifuna the revised mass texts of the new Roman missal.

Overall the experience was a wonderful homecoming for those who had gathered. All look forward with anticipation and hope for widening the circles of dialog into the future.

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