Editor’s Note: Regular readers of the FMS blog are familiar with the reflections of FMS missioners and volunteers. Today, however, we share with you a different voice, that of Bradley Hagarty, father of first-year missioner Hannah Hagarty. While not serving overseas as his daughter is, Bradley is part of the FMS story because his story and Hannah’s story are inherently connected. FMS is excited to hear from family members who visit their loved ones overseas, and FMS is grateful for the support and love that missioners’ family members continue to offer at home and abroad.
My name is Bradley Hagarty. I live in Colfax, Iowa, and I am the proud father of Hannah Hagarty who is currently on mission with Franciscan Mission Service. Hannah is living simply in Kingston, Jamaica in community with the Franciscan Sisters of Allegheny and co-missioner Tim.
“I learned that some problems that exist do not need to be solved, or are not solvable.”
I went to visit Hannah in early September 2019 and stayed in the missioner living space at Immaculate Conception Convent, which is in the Constant Springs section of Kingston. It had been 256 days since I had seen Hannah; needless to say, I was excited to see her again. I wanted to spend time with her, not necessarily doing anything, but just being together–talking, walking, and laughing like we did before she left on mission. I’ve missed Hannah so much, just being present with her was a joy.
When I arrived, it was at night. I was greeted by the wonderful Sisters Helen Rose and Maureen Clare. Tim and Hannah were also there at the airport to pick me up. I’ve never been to Jamaica, and I was surprised and holding on tight while Helen Rose sat on the right side of the front seat and drove the car on the left side of the road! We arrived safely at the convent, which is a former hotel that is still a grand building.
The next afternoon we traveled by minibus to Golden Springs and to a place run by the Missioners of the Poor called Mount Tabor. Mount Tabor is home to many young men with profound mental and physical disabilities. Upon entering, I was unsure what difference could be made by a simple visit. I immediately saw a profound change in disposition of the residents when Hannah walked among them. Recognition of Hannah and attempts to say her name were accompanied by smiles, hugs, and hand-holding. The residents were delighted to have the sole attention of another person, and I could tell Hannah’s visit made the residents’ day! We stayed for several hours interacting with the residents. We then walked back down to Golden Springs for the bus ride back to the convent.
The next day, we went to downtown Kingston and to Bethlehem, which is another facility run by the Missioners of the Poor. Younger children live here, and we arrived just in time to help feed kids. Feeding kids here is no easy task. Swallowing for some of the kids is very hard, so a single feeding may take up to an hour. However, Hannah and Tim jumped right into loving and feeding the residents, and we stayed with them for several hours feeding, playing, and praying.
I expected to see my daughter on this trip to Kingston, but I also saw God, who is Love personified. I learned some problems that exist don’t need to be solved, or are not solvable. Love is the answer. I saw in beautiful Hannah the gift of her presence to the Jamaican poor, and I realized that her presence is what I have missed so much.
Hannah is on a journey with the people of Jamaica. I know she is present and loving and thereby bringing the Lord to those who so need a sense of His Love. So, I guess our family will share her for a bit longer.
Reflection Question: What has a family member taught me by following their heart and God’s call?