Jamaica and the Pandemic
Like the rest of the world, we in Jamaica are seriously impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The #1 industry in Jamaica is tourism with over 4.5 million tourists arriving annually.
Negril, where three of us friars live, is The Capital of Casual. Our 7-mile beach brings thousands and thousands of tourists to this little town and surrounding area on the Western tip of the country. The beach is desolate, and resorts and hotels are closed, as are restaurants, bars and churches.
In prosperous times poverty is all too present. In these times when thousands of employees have been furloughed, the suffering is enhanced. St. Anthony’s Kitchen, celebrating its 10th birthday this week Wednesday, has seen a significant increase in clients coming for lunch.
The average lunch shared out is about 100, this past Wednesday we shared out 175. In addition, we handed out 100 bags of food stuff for folks to carry home for the holiday. When the Kitchen opens after Easter, we will anticipate and prepare for increased numbers, many of them children.
Many people live from paycheck to paycheck. When furloughed, in most instances, income ceases. Fr. Colin gathered folks from his two churches “in the bush” (more rural) and provided food packages to the poor, shut-ins, and furloughed who needed assistance. As Chairman of the Board of Revival All Age School, he mustered forces to provide food parcels to poor children, who through the school, benefit from a government food program.
The government here has been very pro-active in addressing the pandemic. One protocol is that no gathering may occur with more than 10 people. Here at Mary Gate of Heaven we decided to live stream our services. With a little technological assistance, and 8 to 10 folks in the congregation, we began on the 5th Sunday of Lent. I was shocked at the number of folks who tuned in, from as far away as Kolkata, India, to just down the Beach Road. Fr. Colin has been posting a small daily homily for his parishioners. He also has services on Sundays and during Holy Week, observing the limit of 10 people and keeping social distancing in the church. During this chaotic time, we all recognize the need to join together in prayer, knowing that “God is with us,” Emmanuel, and that he will see us through this difficult time.
We know that tough times are ahead for many folks and we will continue to respond to their needs as best we can. Most of what we do, we do because of the wonderful support of so many benefactors. I have already heard from some of you who are concerned about us to offering your financial support. Thank you. We are grateful that you are still thinking of us even when times are not easy for you. God Bless you all!
More photos on our Flickr page.
Masses at Mary, Gate of Heaven via live-steaming on Facebook.
If you would like to support our missions in Jamaica, visit our donation page and under Use my gift for:, click on Missions and write in Jamaica in the Specify Mission box. Visit our Donation Page.
Posted in: Missions