Sat | Oct 20, 2018

Diary of the Ghetto Priest | PM and wife bring tidings of great joy to forgotten poor

Published:Friday | December 22, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Prime Minister Andrew Holness blesses Donte, one of the disabled children at Bethlehem.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (seated second right), and his wife Juliet dining with the brothers of Missionaries of the Poor, led by Father Richard Ho Lung, seated at the head of the table.

And so it was that on Sunday, December 17, at 11 a. m., Prime Minister Andrew Holness and his wife Juliet brought tidings of great joy to Missionaries of the Poor and the most forgotten of our people. In this most prestigious of all seasons, why did Andrew, Juliet, and their entourage choose to be with the least prestigious of all people? Our people can't walk, they can't speak, they can't write, and I doubt that they vote. Surely, Andrew and Juliet must know that there are many rich and powerful people to whom the visit would have been more beneficial, politically, and that there are huge and wealthy parishes with great big crowds who would happily welcome them at Christmas. But strangely, they wanted to be among the poorest and humblest of people, the homeless and destitute, and us simple Brothers, who simply minister to the forgotten ones in the ghettos full of dangers and the darkness of sin. But there they were - Prime Minister Andrew and his wife Juliet, that Sunday, 11 a. m. to 2 p.m..

Their first stop was at Corpus Christi Monastery at the Novitiate. Mass had just finished. Sister Joanne mentioned that a little baby boy was born the day before. I mentioned that the boy would be called Andrew. Everybody laughed. Then they met little Mary born at our Sisters' convent. The little girl had no toes, and one hand was missing. They chuckled and played with her. They warmly greeted our Brother General and the rest of us. The couple was so simple, warm, and hospitable. You would not believe that they are high-level politicians. Andrew had on a simple short sleeve chequered shirt, and Juliet was quietly and elegantly dressed. They were easy to be with, as though sister and brother to every one they met.

After we left Corpus Christi Monastery, we went down to Bethlehem Home and the Lord's Place. Everybody was filled with delight and joy as they were greeted. Every single cripple, blind, deaf, mute child or adult, every single man and woman, every single person distorted and rejected was personally greeted with kindness and love, with words and smiles, a handshake or embrace. In general, there was a deep encounter between persons. The prime minister and his wife Juliet, the Brothers, and our beloved people gathered together in warm and divine respect for one another.

The prime minister remarked, "This changes my perspective on what is most important, on the importance of the poorest of people, and that our nation is truly judged on the manner in which the least and most forgotten are treated. I am truly moved by the work you Brothers do; I did not know it was like this, so many homes and so many people." After that, we went to Faith Centre and our Lazarus Clinic.


... 'Thanks for visiting our stable'


Everywhere we went, they prayed, they sung, they smiled, they shook hands, and greeted people. What was most moving was Andrew Holness' declaration: "I am your prime minister under God. The Brothers are among you every day, and I am with you in the Brothers. Thank God for having the Brothers among you. I thank you Brothers."

Next we went to Sacred Heart Monastery. There was so much kindness and feeling that Jesus was truly there with all us. They brought gifts, and they gave a cheque. They said that it was not very much, but they did not know that their presence among us was such a wonderful gift.

Christmas! The Spirit of God is truly among us again. Give, give, give of yourself to those who have nothing. This is truly the time when Jesus is born. The King of king is born in a manger. The donkeys are braying, the chickens are clucking, the cats are meowing, and the sheep are bleating. Jesus our Brother is here, sent from the Father to bring good news to the poor and sinners. The stars are twinkling, the moon is smiling, the evening breeze is blowing, violins are playing, and all are just happy.

The great gift of hope is again realised! Jesus is here! Jesus is here! Jesus is here!

Thank you Andrew and Juliet for your visit to our stable. It was the most delightful and memorable visit. All we have to give you and our people are our prayers. Happy and holy Christmas!

PS: You are most welcome to share your time and your love with our people in the various homes of the Missionaries of the Poor. Please call us at 948-6173 /948-0280.