You bring the reign of God just a bit closer for children in the missions. I know you will be looking prayerfully into your heart this Easter season and giving thanks to God, who is the source of all good and of every blessing. I pray that as you count your own blessings, you will also consider offering a gift to bring hope to children who have far fewer blessings to count. Their childhoods have been plagued with poverty and despair.
When you think of the island of Jamaica, do you envision miles of beautiful, white sand beaches lined with expensive resorts? I always did, and I think that is how most of us in our country see the island. Right before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, I had the opportunity to visit our missionary friars there. And I saw the part of the island that is not seen in tourist magazines, vacation albums, or from the decks of cruise ships.
The Real Jamaica
I saw this firsthand while visiting Father Colin King, OFM. Most of the children in Jamaica are growing up in poverty, which often means no running water, no electricity, and no windows in many shacks. Poverty wipes out their hope for the future. You simply would not believe such poverty exists so close to the luxurious beach resorts. Many of their parents are unemployed or work as day laborers. In the past, many men used to labor in the sugarcane fields. However, with modern technology, the number of young men needed to harvest cane has dropped drastically.
A few lucky adults find work at the luxurious resorts, where they clean rooms, wash dishes, or maintain the grounds for tourists. There are a few public primary and high schools in the area, but attendance is spotty at best. Many kids must leave school to help take care of younger children while their parents work as day laborers. At times, kids also work to help feed their families. Some children drop out. Irregular attendance in primary school has made them fall behind academically and they cannot keep up. Families in Jamaica suffer from generational illiteracy, which traps them in a vicious cycle of poverty.
There is Hope!
Father Colin King, OFM and our other missionary friars operate three parishes in Negril, an area of extreme poverty. These friars are successfully operating two parish primary schools with grades one through six! Most people do not know that these small, rural schools run by the Franciscans exist. Yet, they have produced a student who scored the highest math score in all of Jamaica in 2016 and 80 percent of their students graduating grade six move on to Pathway One high schools. This means that most of the graduating grade six students get into their first choice for high schools and are reading/doing math at grade level.
Fr. Colin wants to do more! He wants to build a new Catholic preschool for three- to six-year-olds. His goal is to guarantee Catholic early childhood education in rural Negril. This will allow the youth to have access to quality early childhood education that keeps a Catholic presence in their lives. He wants to bring children to school early in their lives to make sure they receive the age-appropriate education needed to develop their God-given gifts and abilities. Fr. Colin hopes to have younger children grow up attending school regularly, so they do not drop out when they are older.
Change the Lives of Children
Here is a wonderful opportunity to change the lives of children who are born into poverty, but also born into vibrant faith and courageous hope. You can see this on their smiling faces. If you could talk to the little ones, you too would be inspired by their love of life and hope for their futures. Together with Fr. Colin and our other Franciscan missionaries, we can offer a gift to bring hope and provide these little children with a valuable head start in their earliest years. If only we can build this new preschool!
Will you help us provide this opportunity for the children of Negril, Jamaica? You will bring them closer to the reign of God! Fr. Colin has requested only $50,000 to help pay for building the new preschool. This is not an overly large sum of money by our American standards, but the amounts are beyond the abilities of families from Negril or the local Church to provide. Will you join us in achieving this wonderful goal by helping Fr. Colin build this new preschool for the children? You can help bring the reign of God to one child at a time through your generous support.
Please walk with us as we bring the Gospel to the world’s poor, especially nurturing the faith and promise of children. I thank you for your continued prayers and generosity to the poor in the missions. You make known God’s goodness in our world by ministering alongside our Franciscan missionaries. God bless you for sharing the blessings in your life in our Gospel mission.
With a grateful heart,
Brother Andrew Brophy, OFM
P.S. I realize that you have many other requests placed before you because of your generous heart. I ask you, in Christ’s name, to please consider the urgency and value of being part of a ministry that will form the minds and hearts of little children in Jamaica. Please give from your loving heart and change the world!