MESSAGE FROM THE MOST HON. P.J. PATTERSON ON, PC, QC, MP PRIME MINISTER FOR NATIONAL HERITAGE WEEK CHURCH SERVICE 2004


Fellow Jamaicans and friends of Jamaica at home and abroad: During this week, we celebrate the memorable legacy of our Forebears and the Great Founders of our Nation. One month ago, this precious little part of God’s creation, was buffeted by the winds, the rains and the surges of Hurricane Ivan.
As we waited with anxiety and trepidation for the arrival of one of the strongest, and potentially most destructive forces of nature, it was our abiding faith in the Almighty which sustained us. All over Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean people were praying. I was also praying where I was. In the words of the Psalmist we said, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress, my strength in whom I will trust.”
It is this abiding faith which must continue to sustain us, as united in a special way, all Jamaicans everywhere undertake the task of rebuilding our lives, restoring our communities and advancing our economic progress.
Sadly, the hurricane caused the tragic loss of life of some of our fellow citizens. Once again, on behalf of the entire nation, I express my deepest sympathy to their loved ones.
But four Sundays ago, the sun was already beginning to shine again in parts of our blessed land, and we had already started the process of bringing relief and restoring our country to a state of normality.
While Ivan may have ruined hundreds of our homes, our farms and severely damaged our physical infrastructure, Ivan could not and did not break our spirit.
During the past four weeks, in houses of worship across the length and breadth of Jamaica, on Saturdays and Sundays, congregations have been giving thanks to God for being our spared the worst ravages of a deadly hurricane.
But today, as we reflect on the glorious heritage bequeathed to us by those who have gone before, our heroes and heroines, recognized and unsung, it is good that as a nation we meet in this special service of national and collective thanksgiving and dedication.
No parish, no sector, no social group was spared by the hurricane. Some areas were very heavily damaged. In social and economic terms, our country suffered severe dislocations. We are forced to make major adjustments both as a country and in our personal lives.
But we are a blessed and courageous people and we give thanks for the opportunity afforded to each and every citizen, here and abroad, to be a part of the rebuilding process which we are now obliged to undertake.
On behalf of the entire nation, I express our sincere thanks, to those both here at home and overseas who have offered much-needed assistance and invaluable support.
Let me also repeat my thanks to the thousands of Jamaican workers, both in the State and private organisations, as well as the countless volunteers, including our churches and Ministers Fraternals who came together and displayed the energy, the love and care, which have helped us so quickly to restore a great measure of normality to our daily lives.
We have all been making valiant efforts to bring relief on a priority basis to those who need it most.
The time requires every Jamaican to demonstrate that neighbourly concern and spirit of caring for which over the years, we have become renowned throughout the world.
As we continue the process of rebuilding, we do so with a strong sense of purpose and unwavering determination to build on the firm foundations created by the National Heroes we honour at this time.
It was through their steadfast belief in the justice of their cause that our Heroes found the courage to stand up for their ideals; to actively seek to improve the lot of their fellow citizens; to vigorously oppose injustice and create hope for a better way of life for all Jamaicans.
This is a time which is testing our mettle as a people. We have done well thus far. We have emerged in the main as a people resilient, determined and strong. But we dare not relax our efforts or become complacent.
. Let us ensure that as our Heroes did, we put the national interest ahead of our personal comforts.
. Let us continue to operate in a spirit of service to others.
. Let us exercise sensitivity, care and compassion and treat each other with total respect.. Rather than curse the darkness, let us shine a light to improve the situation which confronts us – in the political arena, as individuals, as church congregations, in our businesses, our professions, our communities.
In the spirit of unity and partnership now evident in our society, let us find solutions to whatever challenges still confront us.
Let us remember that there is no way we can go forward except together. “Behold, how pleasant it is for brethren (and please allow me to add ‘sistren’) to dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1&2).
We must now draw on all the reserves of our heritage, of the traditions of sacrifice, of resolve and of commitment to the building of our nation, so that future generations will not find us wanting.
In Biblical times, our spiritual ancestors faced major challenges of reconstruction. They succeeded not solely by virtue of their material or technological resources, but by the strength of their faith and the exercise of their collective will.
The people had a mind to build.
I am convinced that there is greatness in our people. Let this moment in our history cause us to consolidate and focus our potential in a collective effort to learn from the past, build on the foundations which we have, and create for the generations to come a sustainable future and an improved quality of life.

JIS Social