Catholic Charismatic Renewal pioneer and internationally renowned Catholic Charismatic preacher and author, Ursula “Auntie Babsie” Bleasdell.
Ursula Marie Crescence Bleasdell, nee Barnes was the second to last child of Woodford Edward and Josephine Barnes, born 16 June 1921.
Her siblings included Irene, Sylvester, Cyril, Henry and Calistra (Baby Look Loy).
She married Lionel McHenry Mapp in 1944 and had 2 daughters Erica (1945) and Paula (1946). After the breakdown of that marriage in 1952, she later married Tommy Bleasdell in 1958.
Auntie Babsie, together with Raffick Abasali, and Cecil “Pa” Gomes, served as Councillors and Aldermen in the Arima Borough Council with Rupert Clovis as Mayor of Arima. Such was their concern for our Arima, they did all they could to look after all Arimians, not just their own families.
These nurturing parents of the families in our formative years truly touched all of our Arima young people lives for the better. These dear parents cared for us with so much love and affection. Out of this association, the “A-Teens” Group was formed of the many teenagers in these families to involve the youths in worthwhile activities.
Auntie Babsie was a member of The Management Committee that was responsible for the building of Holy Cross College at Calvary, Arima.
She together with Dorothea Watkins initiated the Youth Club “A-Teens” that did fundraising for the building of Holy Cross College. Funds were raised with Christmas Carol Singing, and with the Junior Carnival Band “We Going Well, We Going Shell”.
Auntie Babsie also represented the Democratic Labour Party as a candidate to contest the seat for Arima in Trinidad and Tobago’s General Elections before she embarked on her more deeply spiritual path serving God.
Ursula Bleasdell affectionately known as Auntie Babsie at home and many parts of the world; was largely responsible for the formation of charismatic prayer groups all over the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, her birthplace.
Holy Cross Chapel served as a beacon of light in those early days of the expansion of charismatic prayer groups. Auntie Babsie was effectively used by God in many areas of the church, has touched hearts, and inspired countless conversions. She ministered to laity and clergy; and spoken at conferences, retreats, and gatherings throughout Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean, the United States, Canada, Europe, Africa, Ireland, and England.
In 1990 she had the privilege of addressing 6000 bishops and priests at the International Priests Retreat in Rome. Then, she assisted at priests’ retreats at Steubenville University and throughout the U.S. and Canada. From 1975 she traveled worldwide for speaking engagements. She was a leading spokesperson for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. Her outstanding gifts in her ministries included spiritual counseling, preaching, teaching, prophesy, and healing.
She started and developed her Word of Life Prayer Community in her hometown of Arima, being the founder of this first Charismatic community in Trinidad . She was elected a member of the first National Service Team in her country, and then was also elected Secretary of the Caribbean Service Team. She was involved in the planning of National and Caribbean Conferences, teaching seminars, days of renewal, parish retreats and missions. She wrote three books: Growing in Praise; Babsie, Go Teach My People; and Refresh Your Life in the Spirit.
Auntie Babsie died on July 22nd, 2013 at the age of 92 and is buried at the Santa Rosa Roman Catholic cemetery in Arima with her parents and many of her siblings.
By Kazim Abasali
Kazim Abasali is a multimedia artist who enjoys creating his empowering and inspiring art, music, videos, ebooks, published articles, and websites, for himself and others. To access his artistic projects, kindly visit his website.
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