Tue | Jan 18, 2022

Diary of the ghetto priest | Can Jamaicans live religious life?

Published:Thursday | June 8, 2017 | 12:00 AMFr Richard Ho Lung
Father Richard Ho Lung prays for an obviously unwell woman.
Brothers of the Missionaries of the Poor with special-needs children.

By religious life, I do not mean just a prayerful life. In the Catholic Church, it means living in community, in a celibate life, under the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, and in the case of the Missionaries of the Poor, an additional vow of free service to the poor and destitute people in our island and in the world.

Religious life in the Catholic Church is a vital part of the church's mystery of Christ's holiness. He himself lived mysteriously in a state of poverty; He had no place to lay His head. He himself left all behind, His own beloved mother, father, even His sisters and brothers, home and country in order to concentrate on the mission of the Father. The mission of the Father, is to preach the Good News to the poor, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to give water to the thirsty, to comfort the afflicted, to visit the sick, to mourn with the sorrowing, to go to the prisoners, to give sight to the blind and hearing to the deaf.




In a world torn by such strife, such wars, so much jealousy and condemnation, we must "bless our enemies, pray for those who hate us, greet and pray for those who persecute us, doing this, great is our reward in heaven".

Religious life means living according to the Word of God. Missionaries of the Poor, which originates out of Jamaica, and, is a religious institute of men with a women's wing, is blessed by the Catholic Church and given Pontifical Status by Rome.

It is not an easy life. It is a sacrificial life, one of asceticism, self-control and self-denial. A life of dying to ourselves is part of the great heroism and sanctity of the life. The brothers receive very little worldly consolation. It is new in Jamaica, in so far, or, it is the first male order, an order of brothers, not of priests, that has grown out of Jamaican soil. You must pray for Missionaries of the Poor. Though you may not be Catholic, you are part of the Christian body of Christ. Moreover, it is not just Christians we serve at our homes for the homeless and our poor beggars, but any human person in need of the basics for everyday life.

Not easy to be of one heart and one mind

To live in community is beautiful and brings joy to our hearts. But it is not easy to be of one heart and one mind, unless we pray, pray, pray! And make sacrifice in the name of Jesus. In our community, we have some 12 nations living together. This creates great diversity and variety, and difficulty. How is it done? By the grace of God and the example of the life of Christ.

So the brothers live together in unity. We are sinners, we are weak. We fall, we rise, we fall. But we must keep on going; we do it for Jesus, for the Jamaican people, for the poorest of people.

There it is! Another telephone call. That's the fifth call today at Faith Centre, begging us to take in another homeless and destitute man. It is the 25th call registered at our various centres today - for men, women, children who are so forgotten.

All over the world, our brothers represent Christ, our Jamaican foundation MOP in Jamaica. We are in three homes sprawled over the Philippines; in Africa - two homes in Uganda and Kenya; in Indonesia one home; then two big homes in Haiti; in India two homes, and even one home in the USA - North Carolina. Our ministries are primarily caring for people who are elderly and forgotten, men and women in the streets, abandoned in hospitals, people with HIV, tuberculosis, Alzheimer's, some mentally sick, etc. And the brothers do the work tending to the wounds, feeding the hungry, and the thirsty, all these forgotten ones, we need your prayers!

Pray for us! Pray for us! Pray for us!

Shanti! Shanti! Shanti!

Pray for me!