History of the Parish
St Michael’s Church takes its name from St Michael the Archangel – one of the seven who stand before the throne of God (Rev. 1_4, 4:5, 5:6). Over the past 150 years, the St. Michael’s parish has been the home to a few buildings that were constructed under the name of the St. Michael’s church. Under different parish priests, the church underwent construction, renovation and reconstruction, all in an effort to serve the parishioners of the Maracas Valley.
The very first St. Michael’s R.C. Church (originally called San Miguel) in Maracas Valley was consecrated by the Most Revered Ferdinand English, during his short tenure as Archbishop of Port-Of-Spain between 1861 and 1862. St. Michael’s was at that time a part of the St. Joseph’s parish.
St. Michael’s R.C. Church is one of the oldest churches in the country. It was built by the hands of the parishioners, whose dream was to have their own church and parish priest.
It is historically important to note that the area was primarily an agricultural one, and religion played an integral part in the way of life at that time. For many parishioners, the church represented a vital part of their lives. His feast is observed on September 29 each year.
The church is also important because it represents the early influence of the Spaniards from their religion to their food and music. Indeed, it is often said, that the name Maracas was derived from the Spanish musical instrument known as the “marac.” Where Latin was not used, in those early days, the services were conducted in Spanish.
Since many present day parishioners have deep ancestral roots in Maracas Valley, the church is of tremendous importance to them. This can be evidenced by the efforts being made in all aspects of parish life, from the care of the buildings and the less fortunate in the area, to the continuously successful annual harvest, where people from all over the country still take time to attend. It is the focal point of the year for the majority of the community, including non-Catholics, which indicates the vital role this church plays in the community life of Maracas Valley.
The area also exhibits much of its Spanish history, as many parishioners speak Spanish as well as the fact that Holy Mass is celebrated in Spanish twice per month at St. Cecilia’s. These special masses help to develop the language skills of young parishioners and maintain an interest in the rich heritage of their community.
Parish School – St Michael’s, Maracas R.C School
Maracas R.C School is located at Royal Road, Maracas. It is situated about five kilometres from St. Joseph, the nearest town. It replaced the Maracas Government, which was located on the grounds of the current Maracas Community Centre. The building was constructed from wood and housed about one hundred and forty children. During the 1930s, the administration comprised of one teacher and the principal. The outstanding students in the school were used as monitors.
The Parish Priest at the time, Father Henry and members of the valley parish undertook to improve the school and also negotiated with the government to change the school’s name from Maracas Government to Maracas R.C. As a result of the growing population, the location of the school was moved to a proposed site, where the stone foundation for the school was laid down in 1954.
The school to date has had several additions to the entire learning atmosphere and development of the pupils. Students can now enjoy the facilities of a complete school library and a repaired computer room, as well as a principal’s office. The school is now led by the Principal, Ms. Denise Gordon.