Bishop Griselda Delgado del Carpio, in her first sermon as the first female diocesan bishop in Latin America, invited her community to watchfulness and hope. “Are we,” she asked, “those women and men who love the future and believe in it?” And, reflecting on the reading from Hebrew scripture for the First Sunday in Advent, she spoke of “the image of turning weapons into farm tools” as one of “great beauty and powerful value.”
Holy Trinity Cathedral was filled and overflowing as the afternoon of Nov. 28 turned into the evening. Gathered from every parish in the diocese, people of all ages came together with guests from North America and the Caribbean as Bishop Griselda was installed as bishop and seated in her cathedral.
Bishop Griselda spoke of a time at the beginning of her parish ministry in Itabo and Coliseo, a ministry extending over more than 20 years.
“Both churches were about to fall down, the sacristies closed for health reasons, with only a few old chairs and building rubble lying around. But there were the women…. I found them cleaning the churches, washing the altar cloths, lighting the candles….
“I also marvelled at the faith of a man, a creative gardener in the years that they did not have an ordained minister, who never stopped taking care of and watering the flowers of a small side garden, waiting and convinced that some day the church would open for the celebration of the mass, and he would arrange the altar with flowers from his garden.”
That man’s faith and later developments in Itabo bring into sharp focus the bishop’s words about weapons and farm tools. One of her singular accomplishments in ministry has been to mobilize the people of St. Mary’s to develop a thriving and expanding sustainable agriculture project involving and serving residents of Itabo and neighbouring communities.
Bishop Griselda’s installation as diocesan bishop of Cuba was the responsibility of the Metropolitan Council of Cuba, consisting of the primate of the West Indies, John Holder, the presiding bishop of the U.S. Episcopal Church, Katherine Jefferts Schori, and the primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Fred Hiltz, who serves as the president of the council.
The Metropolitan Council provides the link between the Cuban church and the rest of the Anglican Communion, since Cuba belongs to no province of the Communion. Also present were the bishops of Jamaica, Southeast Florida and Minnesota, a retired primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, Michael Peers, and clergy from Southeast Florida, Minnesota and Niagara dioceses, along with Michael Pollesel, general secretary of the Canadian church and secretary to the Metropolitan Council.
Finally, the installation of a new bishop provided an opportunity to recognize the ministry of the departing bishop, Miguel Tamayo Zaldivar, who was installed as interim bishop of Cuba in January 2004. It was Bishop Miguel who handed on symbols of the office—crozier and pectoral cross—to Bishop Griselda. He will continue as bishop of Uruguay, following seven years of dividing his time between the two dioceses. Ω
The Ven. Dr. Michael Thompson is the rector at St. Jude’s Anglican Church in Oakville, Ont.