Support the Missions

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!

Our first bishop 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. Many have no running water; only, outside latrines. Often families are using ”primitive methods” of disposing of human waste, they go out 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$3,120.00, $60.00 per week. Many workers don’t receive even this wage. Among people aged 15 to 19, many are “functionally illiterate.” Many of those who are functionally literate have severe reading problems. There is an alarming number of destitute elderly and abandoned/neglected/abused children and adolescents. People are dying every day from diseases, that no longer exist in the United States because we have adequate medical care. BOTTOM LINE: the Diocese of Mandeville is very, very poor!

Bishop Boyle shared with me SOME of his needs so he can serve his beloved people:

  1. Housing for the Poor, since some people are completely homeless and many live in shacks of zinc with dirt floors. The bishop tries to build houses for the poor. The houses are 28X40 feet, often without electricity or running water; but each home is a ”castle” to a family used to sleeping on the ground  The cost of each house is $6,000.00.
  2. Care for the Elderly and Abandoned, many elderly are destitute and abandoned. The Diocese of Mandeville has a home for 75 elderly who are cared for by Mother Teresa’s Sisters. More homes are needed. The diocese cares for dependent, neglected, and abused youth with housing and educational trade opportunities.
  3. Education, Sixteen basic schools have been established most for young children; there are also 2 high schools, one of which opened 4 years ago! The church has always believed in the power of education to break the cycle of poverty. A small catholic college, The College of Mandeville provides a college education.
  4. Food, Many families are hungry, or even starving.  The parishes provide as much food as possible for the hungry.
  5. Parish Ministries, We have 15 parishes and 7 missions. In some cases, monthly parish collections represent less than 10% of the monthly parish operating expense. One priest I met slept on the floor in the sacristy! People walk for miles to go to church. We beg for 90% of the operating costs of parishes and parish ministries to Evangelize and catechize our people.
  6. We are blessed to be able to provide 2 clinics in areas of the diocese where people can’t get medical attention, something developed nations take for granted. We hope to offer more clinics as we are able.

All too often, the tropical weather and storms in the Caribbean wreak havoc on the lives of our poor and 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 from 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 Mandeville for your annual mission appeal.

For more information, please contact in the U.S., Fr. Gary Wiesmann, Diocese of Mandeville, P.O. Box 11062, Ft. Lauderdale FL 33339-1062, 954-771-8363.

You can support the Diocese of Mandeville #1287 through your prayers and monetary donation by making a check payable to THE SOCIETY FOR THE PROPAGATION OF THE FAITH, 3424 Wilshire Blvd 3rd Fl., Los Angeles CA 90010, memo #1287. You may also donate online by clicking the donate button. When making an online donation, reference #1287 in the Memo box. Your donation is tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Mission Cooperative Plan