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".