Evangelization, through the on-going development of Diocesan Catechetical Programs for adults, adolescents and children, is the primary goal of the Diocese of Mandeville. The Diocese of Mandeville is 30 years old and is among the largest dioceses (ca. 600,000 in population) in the Antilles Episcopal Conference. We are also among the poorest in the conference and the poorest diocese in Jamaica. We have a diocesan director of Evangelization and need to provide on-going theological updating for coordinators and catechists for each of our 18 parishes and 3 missions. Approximately 50% of our people are illiterate and catechesis is time consuming. As our people come to know the Lord more personally and are more formally educated in the faith, our ability to evangelize will be enhanced and our diocese will continue to grow.
From our parishes and missions, Sunday collections cover about 10% of the cost to operate these parishes. In addition to spreading the Gospel in the Catholic tradition, the Diocese of Mandeville has many programs to help our poor. We strive each day to evangelize and help our people experience the goodness of the Lord by being examples of that goodness through our work to bring God’s love and dignity to our people. We take seriously Pope Francis’ sensitivity to the needs of the poor and his call to us to find the face of Jesus in the poor and marginalized and accompany them. Mission Appeals are essential and enable us to evangelize and provide basic dignity to the poor.
We provide the basics like food, clothing and housing for poor people throughout our diocese. Thousands of families in our diocese have lived their lives in rubble-like shacks made of boards/tin/cardboard/palm fawns without running water, electricity or bathrooms. The Diocese of Mandeville, in conjunction with volunteers, builds some simple houses for the indigent. Each year thousands lose their shacks and what little they possess due to the tropical weather and storms. Financial assistance through MCP enables us to continue to put humble roofs over the heads of some who are destitute.
Youth residential/work formation center is a home for the abused, neglected, orphaned youth and youth who need a chance to learn a trade to support themselves in life. Youth often come to us sick and some do not know what a toilet or light switch is. We help youth grow up in a safe, family environment, caring for medical needs and educating them so they can get a job and break the cycle of poverty.
In order to help youth in our primary/secondary schools to know the Lord in our Catholic tradition and to break the cycle of poverty into which they were born, we have established as many schools as finances allow. Catholic religion is taught along with the skills and courses our youth so desperately need to survive as adults.
We also provide breakfast/lunch for children who come to school with no food or having not had breakfast. And, we hope to provide scholarships to catholic adults so they can be educated to teach in our Catholic School System.
Because of our belief that with education the cycle of poverty can be broken, we support the Catholic College of Mandeville formed under the direction of the Passionist Sisters.
Since youth in Jamaica so often stray away from organized religion, we have Diocesan Youth Director to create programs in parishes and at the diocesan level to welcome youth and to provide an environment for youth to know the Lord and become committed to the call to holiness. Funding is needed to ”grow” this program and provide an environment for our youth to grow in the Catholic faith and learn Catholic morals.
The diocese operates clinics which provide basic health care for the sick. These clinics also assist our people who suffer from HIV/AIDS and other terminal illnesses. AIDS is still a major taboo in Jamaican society; we need to minister to those who have contracted this disease and educate society toward adopting a different attitude toward people living with HIV/ AIDS. Our diocese is large in area and we need to expand this pastoral/medical outreach to outlying areas. More clinics are needed to respond to health issues brought to us by our people since most will never see a health care professional except at one of our clinics.
Our Home for Destitute Elderly houses 75 people in their “golden years,” many of whom are sick and have been abandoned by their families. We believe each should have dignity as a ‘child of God’ during the last years/days of his/her life. We rely upon contributions to bring this dignity and a home to our destitute elderly.
The Diocese of Mandeville made their Mission Appeal at Martin of Tours Church, San Diego as part of the Missionary Cooperation Plan 2022.
By Rev. Gary F. Wiesmann, Director of Mission Awareness, Diocese of Mandeville.