A gift to humanity: Monsignor Ramkissoon lauded on his 70th birthday
Four of Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon’s 12 siblings flew into Jamaica from Canada, USA and Trinidad as surprise guests at the 70th birthday anniversary celebration of the founder of the Mustard Seed Communities (MSC), held at Jacob ’s ladder, St Ann, on May 4.
Among the other special overseas guests in attendance were: Jack Griffin and Glenn Creamer, senior executives of major US corporations, both of whom sit on the board of MSC USA, as well as other long-standing MSC supporters from as far away as Ireland.
The birthday event took the form of a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Chapel at the St Ann location, followed by a reception on the property. Chief celebrant at the Mass was the Most Rev. Kenneth Richards, archbishop of Kingston, who was joined by the Most Rev. Charles Dufour, archbishop emeritus of Kingston and the Most Reverend Donald J. Reece, archbishop emeritus of Kingston, together with several priests and deacons.
With the cool breeze from the surrounding hills wafting through the wide-opened windows and doors of the chapel, perched on one of the highest points of the property, the melodious voices of the St Pius X Roman Catholic Church Music Ministry rang out with gusto and modulation where appropriate, worthy of an “icon of the poor”, who founded the organisation 44 years ago that cares for over 500 abandoned, disabled and HIV-afflicted children in 13 homes in Jamaica alone. There are other homes in Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
Those children from MSC homes in Jamaica who could walk, travel in wheelchairs or be cradled in the arms of the attentive caregivers came dressed in their Sunday best. One little girl in her pretty white dress with a blue waist bow and colourful beads in her freshly braided hair couldn’t stand still, so she swayed gracefully and sang along with the songs belted out by the singers, which she had obviously come to know and love.
Monsignor Ramkissoon, whom Archbishop Richards described as a “gift to humanity…a gift from God”, was lauded by the Reverend Father Hayden Augustine, from Missionaries of the Poor, in his homily. According to Father Hayden, “Monsignor Gregory Ramkissoon, founder of Mustard Seed Communities, not only risked everything and accepted Christ as his personal Saviour, but was empowered to spread this faith far beyond the borders of his native land with a missionary zeal akin only to Stephen and Paul, Peter and James and all those early pioneers of Christianity…”
A number of corporate sponsors – both locally and internationally – were also in attendance.