RC priest Fr Christo: Church intervention to help murder victims’ families

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Fr Robert Christo incenses the photo of a murder victim during a special mass on Sunday at the St Dominic’s RC Church in Penal. – Jeff K. Mayers

RC priest Fr Robert Christo says the Penal RC Church is doing what it can to help the Cudjoe and Lewis families through the traumatic experience of having 31-year-old Abeo Cudjoe and her 12-year-old son Levi Lewis murdered at their Lachoos Road, Penal home on Tuesday last week.

Levi was a student of the St Dominic’s RC School. He wrote the Secondary Entrance Assessment examination this year and was awaiting results. He was stabbed in the neck but walked for about ten minutes afterwards to the home of his grandfather, Phillip Harewood, 62, at Penal Rock Road. He later died at hospital.

Cudjoe died on the spot after being chopped and stabbed. Her other child, a three-year-old boy, was asleep and was not harmed.

After a mass on Sunday for victims of crime, Christo described the efforts to help both families as a multi-pronged holistic intervention.

“We want to respond in presence, peer counselling, psycho-social, psychological, maybe, and, of course, material.”

Christo said members of the church are speaking with the families in person or on the phone.

“This is to let them know we are there for them.”

Christo said this is being done in a non-judgemental way.

He said the Catholic Board and the Education Ministry’s Students Support Division are also involved, especially with helping Levi’s classmates.

Congregants at the St Dominic’s RC Church in Penal pray for victims of crime and their families on Sunday. – Jeff K. Mayers

Christo said this was not the first intervention which the Penal RC Church has done.

“This community has a lot of pain and we have to respond with prayer.”

Asked whether he was aware that Cudjoe reached out on social media for help saying she was the victim of domestic violence, Christo said he was not.

On April 23, Cudjoe posted in a domestic violence awareness group on Facebook that she was beaten for eight years while in a relationship.

“We (my children and I) are living house-to-house and police staying away from the home. Any advice or help please?”

Christo said members of the Cudjoe and Lewis families were at the mass. They were not identified during the mass. A parishioner, who declined to give her name, said they were sitting in different parts of the church and did not want attention to be drawn to them.

During the mass, Christo disagreed with US singer Tina Turner’s 1984 hit song “What’s love got to do with it?”

He said, “Love has everything to do with it. God is love and love is God.”

Christo could not understand two-year old Kimani Francis’ death. He was found dead in a tributary of the Guapo River almost a mile away from his Techier Village home on Tuesday last week.

“Look what happened to that little boy in the sea of murky water. Who is taking care of our children?”

Christo made passing reference to Krishana Mohammed, 24, who was chopped to death by a 40-year-old man, known to her, at her La Brea Village, Guayaguayare home on May 11.

“How could people be slashed in their necks?”

He said it was not enough for people to blame Government, the church or any other entity about crime in TT.

“We have to blame ourselves, the man in the mirror.”