Saturday, May 25, 2002

Circular No 28

Caracas, 25 of May 2002. Circular No. 28
Dear Friends
News for you, direct from the Trinidad Express.

Abbey library needs help


ORIGINAL editions of early works by Sir Vidia Naipaul, Sir Louis de Verteuil’s 19th-century book on Trinidad, works on West Indian sociology also from that century, and writings by French priest Père Labat on what the Caribbean was like 300 years ago are among the treasures in the 89-year-old library at the Abbey of Our Lady of Exile, at Mount St Benedict in St Augustine.
Talking to the Express last week, Fr Christopher Theunissen, now in charge of refurbishing the library, spoke about other works there, the library’s history, and plans to continue refurbishing the library.
Funds and equipment, including proper lighting and air conditioning, and computer facilities to help catalogue the library’s collection, are also being sought. The library has just received a gift of a dozen chairs from Bewil & Co, of Philips Street, Port of Spain.
Original works by Eric Williams are also on the library’s shelves, as are the complete works of Sir Walter Scott and Voltaire, political writings by South American Liberator Simón Bolívar, books by Charles Kingsley, ancient musical manuscripts.
There is also, of course, a comprehensive collection of scriptural and theological works for use by monks, students of theology at the Regional Seminary of St John Vianney and the Ugandan Martyrs, just down the hill from the abbey, and members of the public allowed to use the library.
The library now houses about 20,000 volumes.
Rev Theunissen explained that a library of sorts was established at the 90-year-old abbey the year after it was founded by Dutch Benedictine monks who had been expelled from Bahia in Brazil where they had fallen foul of the government.
“In 1979,” Theunissen explained, “one of the monks at the abbey, Fr Ildefons, was appointed librarian.” Other monks had helped with the library before this, including Revs Adelbert van Duin and Francis Friesen.
One of his first tasks was to break through the concrete wall separating what was once a tailor shop from a former vestry, to make access to the library possible from within the main monastery building.
He was helped by other monks, including Rev Francis Alleyne, now Abbot.
“In 1982 Fr Ildefons began the daunting task of proper cataloguing,” Theunissen explained. “It had become necessary to introduce a recognised standard system, the Dewy Decimal Classification”.
He got help from a Mr Nadar, a trained librarian at the University of the West Indies, also in St Augustine.
The task was completed in seven years, with the then-10,000 books in the library catalogued and a special card system introduced. Theunissen nevertheless bemoaned the fact that a number of valuable books in the library have disappeared, some borrowed and never returned, over the years.
Afterwards Rev John Pereira, another monk, did a lot of work in the library. The abbey, to celebrate it 90th anniversary later this year, also has archives, kept carefully by Abbot Francis. One of the oldest buildings at the Benedictine Abbey is to be bulldozed on Wednesday, April 3. Monks at the Abbey explained that the ornate old building, constructed of tapia, was to be demolished two years ago. Citizens for Conservation, they said, got the authorities to hold their hand then, promising to help raise the $2 million needed to restore the old building and make it safe.
The building remained standing but no funds were forthcoming. Each Benedictine abbey throughout the world, it was explained, must be self-sufficient and so must be able to raise its own funds or create income.
Theunissen said the abbey library “is one of the oldest of its kind in the Caribbean”, and has a wide and large selection of monastic and spiritual books as well as secular and inter-denominational books.
Caption of the photo
Fr Christopher Theunissen proudly displays some of the books in the library
Continuing the Who is Where, thanks to Roger Henderson:
17. Brian Lewis is an architect in Trinidad
God Bless
Photo: Fr. Christopher Theunissen
Listado: C28.xls
Photos shall be sent to ratified addresses this year, please send a line if you have not done so, and shall include photos in your emails.
Column: Waiting for Wayne Vincent Brown´s column, I could not find it.

Listado C28.xls

Names Form V Contact nickname business address Phone, e-mail
Gittens, Wayne

Goddard, Brian 1958 roger Kid spider YV

Goddard, Christian 1958 roger

Goddard, Donald 1958 roger

Gokool, Ronald 1958


Golding, Geoffrey 1960
gunk Ontario ca
Golding, Ian

uk and gabon
Golding, John 1961 maurice
london uk
Golik, Carlos
brother musolini Merida, Venezuela

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