GREAT BAY, St. Martin (May 16, 2016)—Soualiga Catholica – St. Martin of Tours Parish  (1841 – 2016) is the new book by Gerard van Veen that will be launched here at the Parish Hall on Wednesday, May 18, at 7:30 PM, said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi (HNP), the book’s publisher.

The book party for Soualiga Catholica is part of the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Catholic parish in the southern part of the island in 1841, said Sample.

The launch is open to the general public and parishioners were encouraged in the church’s bulletin last Sunday to come out and enjoy the book party. USM instructor Roberto Arrindell will be the guest speaker and books will be available for the author to autograph for guests, said Sample.

The 146-page Soualiga Catholica includes over 90 photos, dating from the 1700s to March 2016. The commemorative title also profiles the 32 priests that have served the parish, from its inception to the current priest, Fr. Adam Oleszczuk. Some of the chapters are “The Reverend Sisters,” “Chaos and Confusion,” “Lay People in the Parish,” and “Our Patron Saint.”

Gerard van Veen, a retired priest, actually follows in a long tradition of priest chroniclers like some of the parish fathers that he writes about in Soualiga Catholica, his ninth book. He’s the second most published author by HNP and a Paul Harris Fellow.. 

There are highlights in the book about the history and people of St. Martin. Some of the persons and family names connected to both of the island’s Catholic churches are cited. Also mentioned are how the church came to acquire property on Frontstreet and Backstreet; and “how the two parishes, in the North and South of St. Martin, are dedicated to the same saint but have different founding dates and fall under different dioceses in the Caribbean region,” said Sample.

 “I’m delighted to invite all book lovers and people who love to read and hear about the various recorded parts of our island history to the book party,” said Sample.

Gerard van Veen has his hands full between this week and the first week of June when he’ll symbolically represent all of St. Martin’s writers and authors at the 14th annual St. Martin Book Fair. “I’m honored to represent our writers and I hope that I can keep up with all of the activities,” said the good-natured Gerard van Veen, who is in his 80s. 

Each year a St. Martin author is selected by the book fair organizers to represent the island’s writers at the literary festival. The representative’s tasks include attending key events of the three-day fair, “meet and greet” guest authors from abroad, and conduct an original workshop. Van Veen’s workshop will be entitled “Tips, truths, and touchy topics – Writing a book about your church history.”

Gerard van Veen is one of St. Martin’s senior authors and writes a column on church and religious matters in the Weekender supplement of The Daily Herald.


Soualiga Catholica by Gerard van Veen. On May 18 it’s the book party but in June it’s a workshop by the author: “Tips, truths, and touchy topics – Writing a book about your church history.”