Here in sunny Jamaica, as the Advent Season quickly led us to prepare for Christmas, I must admit I was beginning to feel somewhat homesick and nostalgic, wishing for cold weather and a bit of snow. However, I was pleasantly surprised to ﬁnd that I truly enjoyed Christmas with M.O.P. more than any Christmas that I remember in a long time. Without the hustle of parish life and so many demands I truly enjoyed Christmas with the Brothers and especially with the residents of Bethlehem Home and Beatitudes Home; both orphanages run by M.O.P.
Every year, all the Brothers spend Christmas Day with residents at one or another of their homes, eating, singing, dancing and being family. The children at Bethlehem enjoyed a wonderful Christmas dinner of jerk chicken, BBQ ribs, “rice and peas” and delicious chocolate cake. They especially enjoyed sitting at the fancy decorated tables with the adults and gulping down soda with their meal. Dancing afterward added to the festivities, even for Bob who has only stumps for legs! At the Monastery, the Novices spent the entire day of December 24th building a creche from shipping crates and decorating for Christmas. These Novice Brothers seem to follow the motto: “you can never have enough twinkling lights”, even in the chapel and dining room! I wasn’t sure their solar system would support all the glitz!
After a brief visit with my family for New Year's and processing the renewal of my VISA, I am back in Kingston with the Missionaries of the Poor, living with the Corpus Christi Novitiate Community. I have begun another semester and am teaching 3 groups of Brothers and the Sisters classes on the Psalms, Liturgy, the Sacraments & the Mass. I have also been asked to help cover Sunday Masses at one of the local parishes while the pastor takes time to deal with his mother’s death. I ﬁnd my days are full of prayer & study, and community & teaching. I remember now how much I enjoy teaching.
My discernment has led me to inform Bishop Calvo that I will not be joining M.O.P., but rather will be ready to take a Diocesan assignment when I return in June. I realize now that my initial attraction to M.O.P. was idealistic. Yet, it is clear to me that God led me to Jamaica for a restful sabbatical. My time here has brought me to deeper prayer and closer to God and in the process, I am reminded that Diocesan parish ministry is where I belong. I thank you for journeying with me and for your prayerful support along the way.
Even now as I wrap up my commitment to M.O.P. and begin to prepare to return to ministry, I look forward to working among the people of God in northern Nevada! Keep me in prayer as I continue to pray for you! If you are still looking for more information about the Missionaries of the Poor, check out their website: missionariesofthepoor.org.