the Governor's Speeches

Back to Speeches Indexoct 17, 2016

Remarks by The Governor of Sint Maarten His Excellency drs. E.B. Holiday on the occasion of the Opening Ceremony of the Annual Conference of the Diocesan Clergy of the Diocese of Willemstad at Sonesta Great Bay Hotel

Prime Minister, William Marlin,
Bishop of Willemstad, Monisgnor Secco,
Other Members of the Clergy,
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Good Afternoon,
My wife, Marie-Louise, and I are pleased to join you and bid you warm greetings. In particular we extend a very warm welcome to those of you visiting from overseas. And it is our hope that you will experience the friendliness and warmth of the people of Sint Maarten during your stay on our island.

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We are gathered here this afternoon for the opening of this annual conference of the Diocesan Clergy of the Diocese of Willemstad. We, you and I, do so, as with everything we do, thanks to the mercy of Christ our Lord.

His Holiness Pope Francis declared December 8, 2015, through November 20, 2016: “The Year of Mercy”. In doing so His Holiness in keeping with the example of Jesus invited everyone, to live lives of love, kindness and generosity.

Your response to his invitation as expressed in this conference’s theme: “an outgoing Church reaching-out in Mercy”, reminds us of our responsibility, as individuals, as Christians and as a community, to reach out to each other in positive ways. It is my hope that, through your conference, you will inspire us to reflect on how our talk of achieving a better, kinder and gentler society can be matched in action. The Apostle Paul in Ephesians [chapter 4 verse 9] teaches us: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, ……., that it may give grace to those who hear”. Reinforcing this, the Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatians [chapter 6 verses 10] calls on us to go beyond talk and act when he wrote: “……, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, …….”

The words of the Apostle Paul are especially relevant when placed in the context of today where we hear that we live in an increasingly individualistic and materialistic society. Reflecting on the teachings of the Apostle Paul in today’s context, it is important to emphasize that the enduring strength of any society, depends on the charity, generosity and solidarity of its people one to another. In fact it is on these core Christian principles, these acts of mercy, which our public service institutions, such as social security, education, and health care are built. Public institutions designed to protect and improve the lives of our people.

As a Catholic Church you have been contributing to the people of this country and the other islands of the Diocese for many, many years. This in varying ways:
1. through organizing care for the sick as well as for the elderly;
2. by providing for those in need; and
3. through effective education programs for our youths - a program which I have benefitted from at the Sint Joseph Primary School.
These outreaching acts of service, of caring, of teaching, of kindness and of compassion by the Catholic Church have served to positively shape the lives of many on Sint Maarten and the other islands of the Diocese.
Every day, however, we awaken to new real challenges, to disadvantaged people and communities in need. Challenges of poverty, of outbreak of diseases such as Zika, and of suffering from natural disasters such as in Haiti, to name a few. Challenges which hinder opportunities for many within and outside our communities, opportunities which are necessary for a more fair, more just and more peaceful society and world.
Thus as you deliberate in the coming four days with a focus on: Your Mission of Mercy, I trust that you, through God’s mercies, will be further inspired. That is, inspired to triumph over individualism and further deepen and broaden the positive Christian work and heritage of improving people’s lives on the islands of the Diocese and beyond. I therefore look forward with anticipation to the results of your conference.

As such, I hereby, with the opening of this Conference, wish the leadership, Father Adams and Bishop Secco, much success and wish all of you God’s blessings and much wisdom in addressing the issues before you.

Thank you.

And May God Bless You!