Fund the Formation of the Missionaries of the Poor in Jamaica
Project Code: 229-04-79
What he saw changed everything. The poverty and destitution, the violence and suffering, he witnessed in Jamaica deeply moved Father Richard Ho Lung. In 1981, this Jesuit priest and university professor laid aside his academic titles and duties. He had studied philosophy, English literature and theology and had lectured at St. George’s College, at the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Jamaica and at Boston College in the United States. In 1971 Jamaican-born Richard Ho Lung was ordained to the priesthood. "I was preaching the Word of God, but not really living it," recalled Father Richard later.
Richard Ho Lung left the Jesuit order and went to live in slums and ghettos of Kingston, the Jamaican capital. "I got to know the poor and came to understand the Beatitudes of Christ as my mission," says Father Richard, now aged 73, whose father and mother came originally from Hong Kong. At first there was considerable astonishment among those he encountered, but very soon people came to admire this priest who had devoted himself to caring for the poor, the elderly and the sick. Drawn by his example, others soon joined him and very quickly a small community of four men, priests and laity, was formed. They called themselves the Brothers of the Poor, because they were indeed accepted as such by the poor.
The Bishop of Kingston encouraged and supported this young community that had just come into being. Later the Brothers continued their service in the slums by establishing a house for the homeless. Soon after this, they also began to help prisoners. They drew strength for their growing task of ministering to the material and spiritual needs of the poorest of the poor from their community life, rooted in faith and with regular times for prayer, liturgy and discussion.
The young community grew and later changed its name to the Missionaries of the Poor. The Beatitudes became their guiding rule, while listening and helping became their daily duties. In order to help people find a way out of poverty and violence, the Brothers encouraged those involved to adopt a new way of thinking, a fundamental conversion of spirit. Instead of resorting to violence and fighting one another, they were encouraged to embark on joint initiatives together.
Father Richard reminded the Brothers, "Whatever Christ said, did and suffered, we, too, must say, do and suffer." The centers run by the Brothers are places not only of encounter and social support but also of silence and prayer. The concrete spiritual and material needs of society are seen by the community as a challenge. One such example is the Holy Innocents Crisis Center in Jamaica, a home and refuge for up to 200 at-risk mothers and their babies, or expectant mothers about to give birth. For Jamaica is a youthful country, and the average age of its population of 2.8 million is under 24.
The order has now spread worldwide and currently numbers over 500 brothers and priests, not only in Jamaica but also in Haiti, in India, Indonesia and Kenya, the Philippines, Uganda and the United States. They are supported in their work by part-time volunteers as well.
ACN has supported the Missionaries of the Poor in the past and this year we are supporting them again in Jamaica, with a contribution of $8,700 for the formation of 106 Brothers and 44 novices. Will you help Father Richard by giving to support the formation of these Missionaries of the Poor in Jamaica so that their ministry to the poor and their spiritual life can be built on a solid foundation?
This project is an example of our work. Your donation will be attributed either to this or to another similar project that accords with the pastoral needs that ACN witnesses.
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