Bishop Gabriel Malzaire
Bishop Gabriel Malzaire

Independence Message

His Lordship Bishop Gabriel Malzaire

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, nearing the completion of His terrestrial ministry, Jesus prayed to His Heavenly Father on behalf of the Church which he was in the process of founding on the still tentative faith of His small band of apostles. He expressed His plea in these words:

"Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us ... May they all be one. Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me" (Jn. 17:11b, 21). This text, you will agree, is quite apt for speaking to the sentiments being communicated in this year's independence theme: "One Mission, One Dominica Celebrating 35". One can safely conclude that Jesus saw the need to make this principle of oneness a primary requisite to the apostle's missionary mandate, conscious of the human tendency for division, discord, selfish pursuits. As a value, therefore, it has individual, domestic, communal, national and international appeal, both in the secular and religious spheres.

On the religious level, this 'priestly prayer' of Jesus was by no means an exposition of pious platitudes addressed to the Almighty, but rather a requirement for the proper functioning of any human community, hence its centrality among the marks by which the Church of Christ is known. The growth and success of any nation of the world can no doubt be attributed to the level of unity encountered among its citizens, all levels of difference notwithstanding. It is commendable, therefore, that in celebrating her 35th anniversary of nationhood, Dominica finds the need to emphasize the commonality of mission and singularity of mind as a people, in order to achieve the desired goals as a nation. What therefore is the mission of that One-Dominica, except to see to it that every citizen is afforded the opportunity and the means to live up to their fullest potential? Needless to say, this national charge has of necessity to be integral in nature, that is, to be multidimensional. It has to hold together the varied aspects of human life that contribute to the united whole called "development." It has to incorporate the strong moral and human values that characterize a great people. These age-old values include respect for self and for others, simple good manners, and the tested and tried gift of etiquette. These, to my mind, are some of the qualities that bring about genuine growth in culture and therefore characterize a truly great nation. Therefore, if for some unfortunate reasons we have fallen short of the required standards, which I think we have, there is need for us to return to some basic principles which can engender true advancement in the human society. A renewed emphasis on civics and spirituality, held together, can be a good way to start. This is the one sure way to guarantee genuine growth in culture. We owe it to our children to hand down to them values which are wholesome and therefore model the desired society of the future. This will require us to build on what we already have.

It is for this reason that, on the occasion of the celebration of our 35th anniversary as a nation, I wish to commend the efforts of all persons and groups of persons who have contributed and are still contributing towards the development of our nation. I speak of the Government of our country: the President, Prime Minister and his cabinet of ministers and the parliamentary opposition; our spiritual leaders, the judiciary and law enforcement personnel, civil servants and professionals, the private sector and workers in all other walks of life, who play their part in the growth of our society. May the good Lord, in his mercy and kindness, give success to the work of our hands.

A happy Independence to everyone