The partnership between the Diocese of Owensboro and the Diocese of Mandeville, Jamaica began in the 1990’s when the respective Bishops met. Bishop John J. McRaith asked Bishop Paul Michael Boyle, CP, how the Diocese of Owensboro could offer assistance. Bishop Boyle asked for pencils. Pencils were sent, along with many other items, and the Owensboro diocese began collecting funds during Lent for their “sister” diocese. Now, the Ash Wednesday Collection is earmarked for the Mandeville Diocese. Money collected is used to provide for medical clinics, build homes, and create safe drinking water for the Jamaican communities.
Reflections from Those Who Have Experienced a Mission Immersion Trip
For me, having the opportunity to travel to Jamaica was humbling and a blessing all rolled into one. It was humbling because I realized how blessed I am as an individual, how blessed our family is as a family, how blessed our country is and how much I/we take for granted.
Yet at the same time, people are just people who have similar dreams, hopes, desires and needs. I believe it has personalized Jamaica for me. When the Ash Wednesday collection is taken up, I can see the faces of people I met there and remember the experiences I had; it is real to me, not just some far off place I’ve never been to before.
I believe it has challenged me to live more simply and to be aware of needs more; to be more giving of my material goods to others. It also had the added benefit of bringing me closer to the folks I traveled with from the diocese that I already knew, and introduced me to some other very fine folks that I didn’t already know. I would highly recommend the experience to everyone!
At this point in time my thoughts on the experience would be:
– before the trip, our parish (St. Mark, Eddyville) donated many items to those that were brought on the trip.
– at the time it was eye-opening to see the poverty and spiritual richness of the Diocese of Mandeville.
– our parish got a glimpse of the experience during our Thanksgiving dinner in 2005.
Overall, I think prayer, communications, and more parish trips are the keys to enlivening the sister diocese relationship.
Here are a few comments about my last trip:
- I became even more sensitive to the excess that I have;
- I am much more ready to give away and or share;
- There is a willingness to get others involved;
- I assisted Steve in his efforts with the children to get school supplies for Jamaica;
- I encouraging others to make the trip.
Sr. Marie Moore
I had breakfast with Mary Danhauer on Friday, Dec. 28. She talked about the container and what a blessing it was. The Lord multiplies our gifts. Fr. Mark, at Holy Spirit, Maggotty, is distributing some of the container items to individuals who work a day to earn what they receive.
So the items we sent are getting gardens planted, rooms painted, medical clinics cleaned, and jobs to the unemployed. The work we do to help one is being multiplied and helping many, in more ways then we will ever know.
I meet a friend of Mary’s while in Jamaica last May. Then sent on the container a box of cloths, shoes and books to this family. Mary told me about their reaction. Wow! I don’t know how to describe the feeling I had hearing such stories. My relationship with the people of Jamaica has given me a glimpse of how God wants us to care for each other.
The work I have done for Jamaica has changed my life.
Well, I must say that first off I’m very thankful and blessed for the opportunity to be able to spend a whole year working with the Mission Society of Mandeville. Being there for a year helped me to immerse myself into the culture of the Jamaican people. Working at St. Vincent Strambi High School, I was able to interact very closely with the students and see first hand what types of relationships they have with the Brothers of the Mission Society.
First off, I think a lot of the students see them as “fathers.” They know that they can approach the Brothers about anything, whether it be taxi money, or maybe no food at home or maybe just the need to talk to someone. I know that everyone always referred to the school as “da fathers school.” It was never known by its real name. I was always there to talk with my students about particular problems they may be having. I guess in a way they saw me as a older brother as well. As Aaron Carrico and I began to jog frequently, we got to see where some of the students lived and it struck me about how simplified it was.
In May of 2006 I was a part of a mission team that went to Mandeville. I was not prepared for what I saw. Poverty is everywhere. Education and health care is virtually non existent for the poor. The list goes on and on.
The support of our Diocese to the Diocese of Mandeville doesn’t meet all their needs but it sure helps. I have seen first hand what our donations are doing for the Jamaican people. I returned to Mandeville on my second mission in October of 2007. I made an appeal to the parishioners of St. Ann Parish for support of this trip for medical supplies, food and clothing and they responded by donating over $1,200.
With the experience of the trip in 2006 I thought I was ready for anything I found on this trip. BUT I WAS WRONG. One instance that stands out was our visit to a remote home site of a man named Mr. Allen. He met us at the bottom of a mountain trail that led to his home. After a 30 minute trek up this mountain trail, the 80 year old man stood in front of a pile of debris with two blue tarps over it and preceded to tell us “this is my home.” One of the hurricanes of 2007 destroyed his small house. This gentleman exemplifies the people of Jamaica. They don’t blame anyone for their poverty. The Jamaican people are so happy with so little. I encourage everyone to give freely to the Ash Wednesday collection for the Diocese of Mandeville and if possible volunteer for a mission trip. This trip and the people of Jamaica will transform your heart. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Jamaica and its people.
St. Ann Parish, Morganfield, KY
I went to Mandeville with two huge suitcases full of “stuff” for the people. I came home, not with suitcases and materials, but with so much more. I came home with enough ponderings and questions to feed my prayer for a lifetime.
Is there something in my lifestyle that causes people to live in poverty? If so, am I willing to do something about it?
What can I do to alleviate the sufferings of others even in a small way?
How can I ever be the same again after such a profound experience?
I came home with the prayer that I would learn from the experience what God wants me to learn – and to have the courage to live it.
I also brought back some wonderful memories.
I don’t want to forget the joy and the gratitude of the people, the innocence and the creativity of the children, the beauty of the countryside, and the generosity of the missionaries.
Most of all I don’t want to forget that having empty hands seems to create a full heart. The Jamaican people don’t have a lot of things to protect. We are so busy here caring for and protecting what we own that we often do not have time for others and for God.
The Jamaican people taught me that there’s so much more space for God in the life that is not filled with material things.
I will be forever grateful for my trip to Mandeville.
Sr. Marietta Wethington
I am deeply touched by the support of the Owensboro Diocese for Mandeville and surrounding areas. I have personally seen all that has been sent in containers used to the fullest for those who have so little. I am struck by the wider vision of church that comes from such support. When I first decided to go to Jamaica, I was aware of what I was doing, and soon found out that this project or journey is much bigger than me. I am witness to a much larger community effort in keeping my mission alive and well.
I have been touched by the hand of God working in and through me and the people here and there. I have known the love and need of so many in Maggotty and other areas who have so little and yet are so grateful for whatever is given in love.
A blind man I visited on home visits closed his hands around a toothbrush and floss and verbally thanked God for the gift. Another man cried because his heart was full. I have been taught so much by those I came to serve.
I hope that as a Diocese, we can continue to support and be present to the people of Jamaica. So many days the work seems so overwhelming. I hope that I can continue to do the drop in the bucket that my work seems to be.
Mary T. Danhauer
Holy Spirit Catholic Church
P.O. Box 22
Maggotty, St. Elizabeth Jamaica, West Indies
In November 2006 I was fortunate to be one of ten members of St. Stephen Cathedral Parish to make our faith community’s first trip to the Diocese of Mandeville. The process of preparing was, in itself, a learning experience. In taking as many needed items for our sister Diocese as we could, I realized how few clothes and other things I sometimes consider essential travel equipment that I really “needed” could be left behind.
Some of the feelings I experienced as we met various people: joy, desire for simplicity, humility, generosity, blessing, sense of the common good of humankind, and gratitude.
The time in Jamaica was heart wrenching for me, especially as we met the children in the orphanage and St. John Bosco, and the elderly in the nursing home at Balaclava. In other words, it’s possible that I left a little bit of my heart there. I certainly want to return someday, maybe even for a longer time of service.
I also spent time with Sr. Una, an American Passionist Sister, president of the Catholic College of Mandeville. She and the other women religious from the States who are ministering there are doing so much to teach the people “how to fish.” I was impressed with their commitment to the very poor there and their creativity in responding to some of the needs.
Whatever we can do to get more of our diocesan people to experience the rich culture and the happiness of the Jamaican people, the better we will be sharing the Gospel and having that Good News shared with us.
Sr. Suzanne Sims