News & Events

The Joy of Serving the Poor

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By: Fr. Paul McCollum, Nevada, USA

The heart of the Pope expands to include everyone,’’ said   Pope Francis in his homily at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, during his recent visit to the U.S.

The former nightclub bouncer    and   slum    priest treats   every encounter whether   with saint   or  sinner,  as  an   invitation  to mercy.  In  this   Extraordinary Jubilee Year of  Mercy,  we  can  recognize   the Pope’s  vision  lived  out in the  daily  life of the Missionaries of the Poor.

When most of us  say we are going on a journey.  We  typically   speak  of  travel,  often to a foreign  country, often for rest or   relaxation.    Nowadays, we  often forget about the journey of the heart: a spiritual journey.    I was blessed  to accompany  15 fellow pilgrims  on a spiritual journey  to visit and work alongside the Missionaries of the Poor in their monastery of  Jesus, the  Redeemer  in Kingston. Jamaica.     A journey  of  the heart  is  what  St. Augustine  described so   aptly   many   centuries  ago:   “Our hearts are  restless until  they  rest  in thee, Oh  Lord.”  Every one of us wants to be in union with God, but we often  look in all  the   wrong  places.     Our  small group from  the  Diocese  of Reno found the right place with these holy men and women whose lives  reflect their  motto: “Joyful Service with Christ Crucified” As one  pilgrim said, “…this experience marks  the  beginning of  the  rest  of my life.”

Each day while in Kingston.  we worked alongside the  Mssionaries at  one  of their centers  where  they  care  for and treat those  whom  society has  deemed waste, throwaways:  because  they are disabled either  mentally or physically or  both.   Men, women,  children, the fragile and those  unwanted by their families form the family  of God  gathered by the Missionaries and loved tenderly.


We gathered for Sunday Mass  with locals and the most broken and dis­carded who have formed their own community at  Bethlehem Chapel and  I was  reminded that  it is  because  of the  shattered lives  which we  are  so   blessed   to   encounter easily here in Jamaica  that we are given a glimpse  into the Kingdom  of God.  I could  not  help  but  think  of the  words  of  Jesus: “The poor  you have with you always.”  I give thanks to  God  for  the   chance   to  spend some  time  with  the  poorest of  the poor  and   minister  in  partnership with the Missionaries ofthe Poor. In this  way I am privileged to see and feel and know the presence  of God. Sharing with David’s laughter and Christopher’s renewed hope and Sheridan’s dignified death  cracked open my heart.  Because of my time in Jamaica, my spiritual journey has drawn  my heart  closer  to the heart of my Lord.