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Local church members help Jamaican mission

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by Cameron Jackson/Wingate University
Early in March, three independent organizations demonstrated a unique and successful model of ecumenical partnership to support and serve the poor and sick.
The Order of Malta - Charlotte Region, Wingate University Campus Ministries and members of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Indian Land, all support the Missionaries of the Poor (MOP) in the Monroe, N.C., monastery and in Kingston, Jamaica.
In North Carolina, the monks, also known as brothers, work with the local poor and disadvantaged. They also collect food, clothing, diapers and other necessities to send to MOP centers in Jamaica, Haiti, Africa and Indonesia.
During Wingate University’s spring break in March, members of Our Lady of Grace, the Order of Malta and 10 students from Wingate traveled to Kingston to work with the MOP monks in their ministry to the poor and sick.
The Order of Malta - Charlotte Region sponsored room and board for the students as part of its faith initiatives and service to the sick and the poor.
All three organizations collaborated to collect clothing, vitamins, diapers and other supplies for delivery to the MOP monks, who operate five centers in the ghetto of Kingston and one in the mountains just outside Kingston.
In these centers, they feed, clothe, shelter and give medical aid to about 600 physically and mentally challenged men, women and children. Each center operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Our Lady of Grace and the Order of Malta members Cameron and Natalie Jackson and OLOG Deacon Robert “Doc” Donofrio, a medical doctor, served alongside Wingate’s campus minister, Dane Jordan, and the students in each of the five centers, supporting the monks in a variety of tasks, such as feeding, brushing teeth, cleaning and providing residents of the centers with love and compassion.
The students also participated in daily Liturgy of the Hours, Rosary, Stations of the Cross and Mass with members of the Order and MOP brothers.
“Serving with Missionaries of the Poor in Jamaica was, overall, truly the most challenging yet rewarding experience of my life so far,” said student Ariel Ray. “I had no idea what to expect.
“Initially, our intentions were to serve the poor and in need, but what I found in Jamaica was something that I myself was in need of – an abundance of joy. For people who have so little to offer, who don’t even own the clothes on their backs, they offered more love, light and life than any that I have ever known.
“It is now my personal belief that everyone, from all social classes and backgrounds, should take the opportunity to serve in this way at some point in their lives. There is so much to learn about God and about life from the faces of these precious people. This was an experience I will never forget.”
“Our mission trip to Jamaica for me was like a retreat,” said another student, Rosio Carbajal.
“With our time spent with the brothers and residents, I had a lot of time to reflect on my life and grow my relationship with God. I feel like I came back stronger in my faith, and with new lessons learned from all the experiences we lived.”
The Missionaries of the Poor was started by Father Richard Ho Lung, a Jamaican of Chinese parentage. A convert to Catholicism, Ho Lung began his priesthood as a Jesuit in academia.
Ho Lung taught at Boston College and the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. But during these years he could not forget his roots in the ghettos of Jamaica.
For more information about the Missionaries of the Poor, visit https://missionariesofthepoor.org.

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