Editor’s Note: Missioner Patrick Montine shares his experience of the retreat he took recently in the town of Maggoty, Jamaica. 

In  September, during the first weeks of school, I finally took my retreat. As a Franciscan Missioner, I am able to take a retreat and a vacation each year. I am taking my vacation later, so I decided to get away and take my retreat. Eventually, after much contemplation, I decided to go south of Savannah La Mar to the town of Maggoty.

Patrick in the town of Maggoty

Patrick in the town of Maggoty

In the town of Maggoty there is not much; it is mostly a giant roundabout with a few shops around it. There is a Catholic church there that is run by a Diocesan priest who is from Poland. They also have a clinic which is run by Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, who were mostly from Poland.

The sisters have a large parcel of land and have a peanut farm, beekeeping, and fruit trees. Before the sisters took over, the land was just wilderness or as they call it in Jamaica, the bush. While I was there taking a break from Savannah la Mar, I helped out doing different things.

Each day after Mass, I helped organize the medical charts at the clinic run by the sisters. I did that for a couple of hours and I would then get lunch with the sisters. Later, around 3 pm, I would go help at a tutoring center that the sisters and a teacher from Poland run for the kids. The rest of the time I would relax and read a lot of books.

I was also able to help in other areas such as working with the bees that they had there. They also had a sausage factory which is in the process of being built. However, certain regulations such as having a scale that is in grams instead of pounds are making it difficult to complete the factory.

The land owned by the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

The land owned by the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

I had a great time reflecting on my time in Jamaica with the priest and the sisters and thinking about what else I can do with my time that I am here. When I was walking through the street in Maggotty, I got harassed more than usual. This made me realize that this this is not my home. I must respect the Jamaican people especially if they don’t respect me.

I am a guest and this is not my home. I also realized what else I can do to help here in Jamaica. Since I came back to Savannah la Mar after my retreat, I have started tutoring kids after school with their homework and trying to help them in their studies. There are lots of things I can still do; I have to listen to whatever God’s plan may be and be present .