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“Blessed are the Merciful, for they will be Shown Mercy”

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By: Fr. Bill Swengros, Pastor of St. Paul Catholic Church, Tampa, FL

Fr. Bill feeding a child at Bethlehem Home

I first heard of the Missionaries of the Poor from my cousin. He couldn’t contain his excitement as he shared about the Missionaries of the Poor and all they do for those in need throughout the world. A little later, I heard about MOP first hand from Fr. Richard Ho Lung during a Eucharistic Congress in Jacksonville, Florida. Although no stranger to mission work, nothing in my twenty-six years of priesthood prepared me for what God wanted to share with me during my first visit with the Brothers last year!


From the time I arrived in Jamaica, I was touched by the way God’s love and mercy radiated through the lives of each Missionary of the Poor. The Brothers and Sisters literally glowed with the Holy Spirit. My service at the Centers was certainly life changing as it challenged me to grow beyond my comfort zone and to truly serve Christ “in the distressing disguise of the poor.” Parishioners noticed how I changed and I felt certain the Lord wanted me to return with a group

of parishioners.


Fr. Bill visiting the children at Bethlehem Home

And so I did, with 18 of my parishioners. Our days were filled with prayer, reflection, laughter, tears, and much hard work. All of us were profoundly changed by the encounter with the residents, the Brothers and Sisters, and with our fellow volunteers. As one 21-year old shared, “I am a new man.”


Now back home, my friend’s relationship with the Lord has grown so much more profound. They are eager to share how God touched them are ready to serve the Lord in the faces of those in need who live in the Tampa Bay area.


If you are interested helping others to have a profound encounter with Christ and to be empowered to grow in to intentional disciples, please bring a group of volunteer with the Missionaries of the Poor!