The Grenadines - guarding paradise from demonic intrigue
Catholic priest guarding paradise from dangers of demonic intrigue - Paradise is his beat: Father Mark is a Catholic priest for some of the most picturesque little islands of the Grenadines. His ministry extends to the Tobago Cays, a group of tiny palm-studded islets lapped by turquoise tides. A heavenly spot indeed, if it weren’t for the devilry threatening the idyll.
Fifteen years ago Father Mark took over the parishes of Mayreau, Bequia and Mustique. The former administrator of the cathedral in St. Vincent’s capital Kingstown now lives in a tiny little cubby-hole behind the picturesque little village church of Mayreau. He only experiences stress at Christmas and Easter:
“I have to preach on all three islands on the same evening then,” explains the clergyman. “I run straight from the pulpit to the boat or airplane to make it to the next mass on time.”
Island hopping to tend to his flock, the shepherd has to reach out to very different sorts of sheep. While in Mayreau the pews are filled with simple fishermen, in Mustique he looks out from the altar onto the rich and the beautiful: industrial leaders, crowned heads and pop-stars maintain holiday homes on the posh private island.
Father Mark’s heart is with the 280 poor souls on Mayreau though.
“People can barely survive on the fishing trade these days,” he says. “Tourism is their only hope.”
To help his congregation with this, the priest has founded an organization that hopes to offer the locals opportunities to earn money through tourism, while preserving the sensitive eco-system of the Tobago Cays.
“We managed to get the government to make the Tobago Cays a national park with European Union financial support,” explains the environmental theologian happily. “We want the local people here to be able to earn a living as park rangers or by providing services to visitors.”
But no sooner had the new national park been baptised than the clouds of devilish intrigue began to brew.
“Shady foreign investors are trying to get control of the project to use it to line their own pockets.” Father Mark is afraid that his flock will be driven out of Paradise.
The priest hopes that concerned and committed tourists will act as guardian angels to protect his congregation: “Those who want to help should call on the European politicians to make sure the funds end up in the right places!”