Jamaica – Beyond the beaches

| Deacon Mickey Friesen | October 8, 2015 | 0 Comments
Sacred Heart of Jesus Sister Rita Kurdziel from Holy Spirit Church in Maggotty, Jamaica, makes a house call. Courtesy Sisters, Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Sacred Heart of Jesus Sister Rita Kurdziel from Holy Spirit Church in Maggotty, Jamaica, makes a house call. Courtesy Sisters, Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

The small Caribbean island nation of Jamaica is a popular winter getaway and port for cruise ships that is known for its beautiful resort beaches and exquisite rum drinks.
What is less known is that beyond the resorts and tourist stops there is another Jamaica.

Jamaica is the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, after Haiti. This second-place ranking and a resort destination status often keep it off most people’s radar as a place with many challenges. High poverty and unemployment in the mountains make life difficult for many families to find peace, security and stability.

Jamaica is also a mission Church. Catholics make up less than 1.7 percent of the Jamaican population, but the Church is reaching into the lives of many Jamaicans on several levels by serving their material and spiritual needs as they strive to make Jesus known.

The young and developing Catholic mission Diocese of Mandeville, Jamaica, for example, is served almost entirely by foreign-born ministers. The bishop is from New York.

The priests, sisters and lay missioners come from Kenya, Poland, India, the U.S. and other parts of the world.

Much of the support to further this missionary church is provided by people like you and me. Together, we help to advance the Church’s call to bring good news to the poor, heal the sick, lift up the downtrodden and liberate those who are burdened or trapped by the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Mission our common cause

The Church in Jamaica is a wonderful example of how the missionary Church grows today.

By the sharing of many gifts from many hands and lands around the world, God’s plan of salvation is being realized. It is all the Church for all the world.

On World Mission Sunday we have an opportunity to celebrate the missionary nature of our faith and our common cause with Catholics around the world to bring Christ to the least and the greatest — to the ends of the earth.

In a couple of months we will also be marking the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second Vatican Council and the anniversary of its decree on mission called, “Ad Gentes,” which means, “To The Nations.”

This document declared that the Church does not “have” a mission, but rather “is” a mission. We are baptized into God’s mission of love revealed in Jesus, who poured out his life for us on the cross and made us whole in his resurrection.

The Spirit is poured out on the Church to receive and continue this mission. Each of us is called in our own way to be a missionary disciple according to our state in life.

Together we are the body of Christ — building up our members and equipping one another to go forth into the world.

On World Mission Sunday we renew our baptism as missionary disciples. We are one body of Christ in mission that transcends geography and language, culture and economic status. We are part of the Spirit’s movement in the world that is greater than any one member, but needs each of us to share our own gifts.

As we here in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis offer our prayers and financial support for missionaries around the world, Catholics in Jamaica, Rwanda, Vietnam and in Papua New Guinea will be doing the same on the same day. We are all the Church commissioned by the Spirit to pour ourselves out for the whole world.

When we are able to reach beyond the many borders that separate us and cooperate together for God’s purpose, we are sending a message and giving witness to God’s plan that all may be one in Christ.

Let us be true to our missionary nature as members of Christ’s body and share our gifts in the global family of faith.

Deacon Friesen is director of the Center for Mission in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and archdiocesan director of the Pontifical Mission Societies and Catholic Relief Services.


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Category: World Mission Sunday