When we think of Jamaica, the thoughts of Ocho Rios, beautiful beaches and wonderful scenery come to mind—all of which are part of the island. A year before becoming a priest of the Diocese of Mandeville, I spent 5 days with our founding bishop touring the diocese—and, I saw a very different side of Jamaica!
Bishop Paul Boyle said to me: “We have dire poverty. It’s something the tourists don’t see, nor do the television ads feature. Our people are poor. Jamaica is one of the poorest nations in the hemisphere after Haiti, and our diocese is the poorest part of Jamaica.”
In the Diocese of Mandeville, there are about six hundred thousand people. Sixty eight percent have no running water; only, outside latrines. Families are using “primitive methods” of disposing human waste—they go into the bushes. People need basic necessities of life: food, clothing, shoes to wear, mattresses—many need a home. The average annual income in Jamaica is US$1,500.00—a little less than $29.00 per week. Many workers don’t receive even this wage. Among people’ aged 15 to 19, 25% are “functionally illiterate.” Many of those who are functionally literate have severe reading problems. Seventy-five percent of students who take standardized testing cannot pass even one subject. There is an alarming number of destitute elderly and abandoned/neglected/abused children and adolescents. People are dying every day from diseases, which no longer exist in the United States because we have adequate medical care. BOTTOM LINE: the Diocese of Mandeville is very, very poor!
All to often, the tropical weather and storms in the Caribbean wreak havoc in the lives of our poor and to our ministries. The cost is enormous to recover from these storms and replace roofs, restore classrooms, clean up from water damage in our buildings, and, replace vestments and liturgical books that were ruined. Also, we work to help families rebuild hundreds of humble homes lost in the storms.
Obviously, we need enormous support for our local church. Please help us as we bring the Gospel, in our Catholic tradition, to our beloved people and help them to experience dignity as children of God. Thank you for welcoming the Diocese of Maneville for you annual mission appeal.
For more information, please contact in the U.S.:
Fr. Gary Wiesmann
Diocese of Mandeville
P. O. Box 11062
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33339-1062
Website of Missionary Group: www.mandevillediocese.org
If you like to make a donation online, go to missionsla.org → Donate today → Donate to Mission Cooperative Plan, please select St. Junipero Serra - Camarillo under "Parish Name".
Part of the formation that music and liturgical ministers undergo teaches us to look for the bridge that connects the First Reading at mass to the Gospel. At first glance, this week’s connection eluded me (and, if I’m honest, at several glances beyond the first). But with the help of others wiser than I, a bridge became visible and I’d like to share it with you.
In the First Reading from Genesis, we have Abraham pleading with God to spare Sodom and Gomorrah from destruction. In a way that reminds me a bit of the tireless negotiating my four year old granddaughter subjects me to, Abraham asks God if he will spare the city if there are fifty righteous people there. But he doesn’t stop there. With occasional respectful phrases (“See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord though I am but dust and ashes!”), Abraham secures the commitment from God that even if there are only forty, only thirty, only twenty, and finally, only ten innocent people there, the city shall be spared.
The Gospel has Jesus’ disciples asking the Lord to teach them to pray. Presumably they can see how prayer grounds every moment of Jesus’ life, and they want to follow their master’s example. In response, Jesus teaches them the Lord’s Prayer, the Our Father that we say every Sunday at mass. But he doesn’t stop there. As a good Rabbi, he tells them stories of friends and neighbors, late night disturbance and request, and fathers who care well for their sons. He says, “I tell you, even if he does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up . . . because of his persistence.”
As Christians we are used to the idea that we can come to Jesus with any request, that God encourages and desires intimacy with us like a loving father who dotes on his children. But in Abraham’s time, there was not yet such a conception. The God Abraham bargained with was holy, wholly other, all powerful, mysterious, remote and prone to anger. Yet he was persistent, and God was merciful, ultimately granting Abraham’s request to spare Sodom.
Here is the bridge: Jesus wants us to be persistent in prayer, just as Abraham was. The answer we get may be “yes” or it may be “no”. It may be silence. But we know that God is loving, merciful, just, and powerful, and that he wants us to ask boldly for what we need.
One last thought: it didn’t hurt that what Abraham was asking for was in accord with God’s merciful nature. It doesn’t hurt either if we try to discern what God might want us to ask for when we aren’t sure. So in addition to persistent requests, we can also ask God to reveal to us what God wants. And we can be patient. On the other hand, the neighbor in the middle of the night demanding bread was anything but!
1931 - 2019
A memorial service to celebrate the life of Maria Masciale.
Tuesday, August 20 at 10:00 am
Padre Serra Parish
5205 Upland Rd, Camarillo, CA 93012
1945 - 2019
A memorial service to celebrate the life of Sandra Hurd.
Saturday, August 31 at 10:00 am
Padre Serra Parish
5205 Upland Rd, Camarillo, CA 93012
Dear Parish Family,
As I was reading over our readings, I could not help but notice how appropriate and relevant the readings are for what is happening in our world today. With our political climate and so much division, fighting over what is right (legally) and what is just (humanely)! Though it may seem that it is the same thing, it is not always the case.
In Jesus’ times social codes and boundaries were strict, many people were excluded and seen as having lesser value or dignity; women and children were among the most vulnerable and unprotected. Still today, we see this mistreatment and exclusion of our fellow man, especially with our immigrant brothers and sisters at our southern border. Though the laws and society may have their rules of what is acceptable in the treatment of others, as followers of Christ, this is where we listen to his words, his example, and follow in his steps, so that we will do what is right and just.
In our Gospel, Martha is conditioned by the existing social codes and boundaries of her society, woman’s place was to take care of the household, be servants to the need of the men and family. This is why Martha complains and asks Jesus to intervene. To Martha’s surprise Jesus defends Mary, “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” Mary breaks through that boundary and becomes a disciple of Jesus. To love God with all one’s heart and one’s neighbor at times requires breaking some of society’s rules. The Kingdom of God is a society without distinctions and boundaries between its members. It is a society that requires times for seeing and doing and also times for listening and learning at the feet of a teacher.
Our Psalm today clearly reminds us we should live our lives with truth, justice, harm not our fellow man, accept no bribe against the innocent. “He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.”
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying we should not follow the laws. Many of our laws, rules and limitations are good for us; they keep us safe and healthy. However, at times we must question if the laws are fair and just. Are these boundaries used to unfairly exclude and separate and dehumanize the children of God? Are we following the commandment, “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself”? May we always seek to live in the presence of the Lord.
Faith Formation Minister
Dear Faith Family,
Our peer leaders in Youth and Young Adult ministry do so much for our programs. The dedication level of these leaders is so tremendous; here is a sample schedule of the weekly commitment that they give to our parishioners in the winter.
Some of you may be asking, why would they be willing to commit so much time? The answer is quite simple: They are disciples. The servant leadership that our leaders show far exceeds any example that I can give in my talks in Confirmation and Youth Group. Our leaders are the ones who sit down and share real life examples of how to live their faith.
These leaders also pay out of their own pocket to help at and to attend retreats. It’s not just their time they are sacrificing. It is also sad to say that some leaders cannot attend some of our events, simply because they can’t afford it. These events can be costly, typically hundreds of dollars for a weekend.
We also are excited to have our first service project in Louisiana this year, which as you can imagine, is also quite costly.
If you are feeling generous, we would love your support in sponsoring our leaders and Confirmation candidates in a scholarship fund. It is through your generosity that a lot of leaders may be able to go. If you are interested in contributing to this fund I know they would be eternally grateful.
I talk about our leaders quite a bit and I believe that it is justified. The leaders have not only helped hundreds of teens on their faith journeys, but they have helped me to understand what the love of God is personally.
Thank you so much for your time and generosity.
Youth and Young Adult Minister
Also visit: Young Adults Gatherings
Dear friends on the journey, Today’s gospel message is about sending out. Jesus has been preparing the Twelve and many others to witness to himself and his ministry. The seventy-two are being sent out to evangelize, by sharing the good news of Jesus. He describes the conditions to which they’re going, gives them specific instructions on what to bring (or not), and tasks them with a mission: bring peace and cure the sick. The mission involves sacrifice, trust, patience, and faith.
Jesus also tasks us his modern day disciples with a mission that can be summed up a few verses later in chapter 10. When Jesus is asked what is required to inherit eternal life, he responds with the simple and yet complex commandment: You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Lk 10:27).
“And your neighbor as yourself.” How do we do that today, individually and as a community? So many ways! Individually we are called to bring Jesus and be Jesus for our immediate family, neighbors, coworkers, friends, and strangers in our daily path. The parish community is another way to live out our missionary call individually and especially collectively. Our parish is rich with many opportunities to bring the mission of love to others. The Holy Spirit has called forth many individuals to engage in ministry and even start a ministry. I love watching the development of grass roots ministry. Someone sees a need then does something. This happened with our caregiver, cancer and divorce support groups, Career Transitions, Seeds of Faith, PAX Christi, Social Spanish, and so many more.
I am excited to share that today we launch another such ministry of love … our new Military Family Ministry (MFM). In recent years we recognized the growing number of military families attending our parish, rather quietly, and their unique life. Two military bases are situated in our county so we set out to learn more by meeting with the chaplains at both bases, sharing our experience thus far, and learned more about military life in general and the spiritual care in place at both bases. The Holy Spirit then got to work bringing together a small group of Catholic military persons under the leadership of Dave Gutierrez and Victor Maxion to brainstorm and vision what more we could do as a parish family to love these military families for the time they are here.
When I think about how military members are sent out around the world with a mission, a task and often times with great sacrifice for themselves and their families, I am even more convinced that our parish has now been called and sent to minister in a special way to the men, women, spouses and children of the military, right here in our own mission territory of Ventura County.
If you’re an active or reserve member of the military, we’d love to meet you after Mass today. Stop by the courtyard table to meet Dave, Victor and the team. We love you and thank you!
Faith Life Minister