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.
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.
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 .