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Looking Forward

Editor’s Note: Lay Missioner Hannah Hagarty shares her discernment of “What comes next?” following the end of her service with FMS. In her final blog, Hannah candidly opens up about her approaches in trusting God with her steps moving forward.    My time serving as a Franciscan Mission Service Overseas Lay Missioner (FMSOLM) is coming…

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Constantly Immaculate: From Luxury Hotel to Franciscan Home Base

Editor’s Note: Lay Missioner Megan Hamilton delves into the history and Franciscan connections of her daily home-base within the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany convent in Kingston, Jamaica. Megan would like to thank her friend Adrianna Amari who contributed critical research on Constant Spring Hotel. At my November 16, 2019 Commissioning Mass in Washington DC I…

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FMS Lifelong Missioner Feature: Tim Shelgren

Program Director Emily Norton had the gift of interviewing Tim Shelgren (Mission Class 33, Serving from 2018-2020 in Kingston, Jamaica) via a Zoom call. Below is the interview.  Q: How have you chosen to live out Franciscan simplicity since returning to the US? The day I left Jamaica, I remember standing in the airport on…

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A Time for Everything…

Editor’s note: Overseas Lay Missioner, Hannah Hagarty, reflects on her time of mission serving in Jamaica as well her time back at home, recognizing the beauty of Ecclesiastes within her life throughout this period of many transitions.  I just returned to Jamaica on September 20th from being home in the states for a 6-week stay.…

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Bigger than the Internet

Editor’s Note: Tim Shelgren, Missioner in Jamaica, describes the relationships he has built on mission and how he has learned to communicate love to others without using words or technology. Lately, I have been listening to Richard Rohr’s podcast series, Another Name for Everything, that he is offering in conjunction with his new book, Universal…

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My Peace I Give to You

Editor’s Note: Current Missioner Hannah Hagarty shares how she has found peace while building a routine overseas in Kingston, Jamaica. “I find it deeply important to accept that we are not the masters of this place. We are her visitors. And like guests let’s enjoy this place like a garden. Let us treat it with…

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Is God in the Wild Flowers or is He in the Church?

Editor’s Note: Tim Shelgren, FMS missioner, reflects on a powerful experience in Kingston, Jamaica where God revealed His presence through a day at the pool. About thirty years ago when my children were little, every Sunday morning before church I used to go running behind our home on the “dikes” along the Allegany River in…

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Time To Celebrate!

Editor’s Note: As Tim Shelgren approaches his one year anniversary in Kingston, Jamaica, he shares a selection of photos that express the main themes he has experienced thus far during mission. Reflection Question: Which moments from your past year capture strong themes of your spiritual journey?

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Surrendering to the “I Am” in the Womb of the Jungle

Editor’s Note: Current missioner, Tim Shelgren reflects on his experience at Mt. Tabor’s Beatitudes, a home for children who were born with different abilities. Since coming to Jamaica last February as an FMS missioner, I have spent most of my time serving primary school boys in the city of Kingston. Though I have learned to both tolerate and…

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Living in Solidarity With The Poor: Who? How? What? Why?

Editors Note: Missioner Tim Shelgren articulates the lessons learned from living simply with people experiencing poverty in Kingston, Jamaica. Solidarity Almost five years ago now I bought a camper and moved to Prescott, Arizona. Living there in the camper for three years, I met other people who also lived in campers, tents, and even old…

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Walk Good

Editors Note: Missioner Cindy Mizes shares beautiful memories created alongside Mr. M, a gentleman at Consie Walters Cancer Care Hospice in Kingston, Jamaica. Consie Walters Cancer Care Hospice is a place where impoverished men and women with terminal cancer are lovingly cared for. This summer, I had the privilege of ministering there. On my first…

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“Loosening the Choke on the Development of Young Children”

Editor’s note: Missioner Tim Shelgren shares some of the progress he has seen in his 3rd grade classroom in Kingston, Jamaica, and reflects on the source of overactive behavior in the young boys. Since I arrived in Kingston, Jamaica four months ago, I have been serving as an assistant in a unique 3rd grade classroom…

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Walking in Jesus’ Feet

Editor’s note: Missioner Cindy Mizes shares insights into a new ministry she has started in Kingston, Jamaica. I never imagined what it could be like walking in Jesus’ feet until I started walking along the city streets and narrow back alleys of Kingston, Jamaica handing out food and water to people living on the streets. …

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Love and Brotherhood are Offered and Received

Editor’s note: Missioner Tim Shelgren recounts Immaculate Conception High School’s Dramatization of the Crucifixion in Kingston, Jamaica and reflects on his role in the process. Setting Campus Minister Donna Haynes set the stage in the school’s “quadrangle” where the student body meets for assemblies. She placed several small palm trees and a cross to represent twelve…

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Gangs, Gunshots and God’s Grace

Editor’s note: Missioner Cindy Mizes expresses hope for the children she is serving in Jamaica after she reflects on a difficult experience in the classroom. On my first day in my new ministry as a Teacher’s Assistant at St. Francis’ Primary School, I gingerly walked into the classroom of 21 young boys (ages 8-10) not…

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I’m Going To Live In A Convent, Oh, My Nerves!

Editor’s note: Missioner Tim Shelgren shares a connection he discovered between FMS and his hometown—a connection he will take all the way to Jamaica. For thirty-eight years I lived, worked, and raised my children in the Olean/Allegany area in Upstate NY, home of St. Bonaventure University. Across the street from Bona’s is a big building,…

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Faith Calls Us to be Neighbors: Welcoming God in My Grief

Editor’s note: As part of FMS’ 2017 Advent blog series, missioner Cindy Mizes recognizes God’s welcoming presence in the midst of grief and anguish. The photo is from the top of Blue Mountain (Highest peak in Jamaica) which she climbed with others last month. I would never have imagined that I would enter into a world…

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God Sent Me a Telegram

Editor’s note: missioner Tim Shelgren recounts a divine experience in a Jamaican restaurant in Washington, DC. Since last winter, when I first applied to participate as an overseas missioner with FMS, I have been asked numerous times to “think about and explain why and where it is I feel called to serve.” This question has…

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A Light in the Darkness

Editor’s note: Missioner Cindy Mizes reflects on the beauty of creation as a manifestation of Christ’s redeeming light. There is a beautiful night blooming cactus on the grounds where I live that has an abundance of flower buds. This particular cactus is massive with its long green tentacle-like arms stretching over 10 feet into the…

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Jesus Commands Us to Love, Part 2: Down in the Depths

Editor’s note: Missioner Janice Smullen continues her blog series, “Jesus Commands Us to Love,” by tracing Jamaica’s movement for social justice. God is always offering grace and unconditional love to us, but history has shown us that human beings  are capable of displaying a dark and desperate side.Young Miss Bev (from Bat Mitzvah Girl, a…

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Crystal’s World

Editor’s note: Missioner Cindy Mizes shares about a day at Jacob’s Well with the residents there, and how one personal experience in particular gave her a lens to understand the societal issues that Jamaica is facing today. She was sitting alone quietly in a wheelchair that had been pushed into a dreary corner of the…

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Rooted in the Present

Editor’s note: During a visit to a local, Jamaican coffee farm, Missioner Janice Smullen reflects on presence, rootedness, and how  to bloom where any of us may be planted. Recently, I was able to spend a two-night holiday with my visiting sister at an eight acre coffee farm containing 5,500 coffee trees, about 3,000 feet…

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Sharing in Solidarity

Editor’s note: Missioner Cindy Mizes reflects on some experiences from her months on mission in Jamaica which have moved her, given her hope, and called her to share God’s mercy. In the short time I have been in Jamaica, I’ve come to love this country and to contemplate its bleeding wounds which run deep and…

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One Bread, One Body

Editor’s note: Missioner Janice Smullen shares her reflections on the Eucharist and how the sharing of Holy Communion has brought her to a deeper understanding of community. Much to my surprise, one of the questions that I have found myself pondering throughout my time on mission has been the meaning and mystery of the Eucharist.…

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For My Mother

Editor’s note: In celebration of Mother’s Day, Missioner Cindy Mizes honors and reflects on the life of her supportive and caring mother. Last Valentine’s Day, I sent my mom one dozen pink roses to let her know how much I love her. But nothing on this earth could begin to express the depth of my…

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Were You There: Entrusting Our Crosses to Christ

Editor’s Note: Missioner Janice Smullen reflects on the figure of Simon the Cyrenian who helped Jesus carry his cross, and relates it to a personal encounter on mission. “As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on…

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Were You There: Showing Christ’s Love Amongst Pain

Editor’s note: Missioner Erin McHugh reflects back on her time on mission in Jamaica, recounting how she felt called to witness to the challenges and the joys of her students there. When I was given the topic for our Lenten blog, “Were you There,” the first thing that came to mind was working with the 4th grade class…

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Be Not Afraid of Success

Editor’s Note: Missioner Brandon Newland reflects on the past two years in Jamaica as he looks ahead to his return to the US where he will start a new chapter in his life. With only a little more than a month left of my time on mission in Jamaica, it is time to deal with…

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Be Not Afraid: Consumed by Fear

Editor’s note: As Missioner Erin McHugh prepares to return to mission, she shares how the fears that she faced over the last few months brought her to a deeper recognition of what it means to trust unconditionally. The past six months have been an unexpected and challenging journey for me, what with having to return from…

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Be Not Afraid: Openness in Prayer

Editor’s Note: Missioner Janice Smullen shares how offering quiet moments up to God showed her a deeper insight into herself as well as her relationships with friends and family. Moving past a fear of “not being busy” allowed me to open up to prayer. As a mother with young children, I would roll my eyes…

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Be Not Afraid: Finding the Possibility

Editor’s Note: Missioner Patrick Montine shares how moving past the fear of failure while in Jamaica made it possible for him to find the right ministries for the Savanna-la-Mar community. As we enter the season of Advent, we enter a season of preparation and anticipation  for Christmas. For some people, Christmas can be  a time…

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Challenging the Kids

Editor’s Note: Missioner Brandon Newland reflects on the past summer in Jamaica and the various activities that he arranged for the kids. The summertime is a wonderful time for students to rejoice and enjoy their freedom from school and homework, but to adults it can be a time to build patience and bonds with the…

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Care for Creation at the Beach

Editor’s Note: Missioner Patrick Montine shares how a trip to the beach with some of the kids in Savanna-la-Mar, Jamaica, created a great opportunity for a lesson and experience of care for creation. Usually our summers in Savanna-la-Mar are pretty uneventful  and most of our ministry shuts down because we work with kids and the…

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A Breath of Fresh Air

Editor’s Note: Missioner Janice Smullen shares her reflections on mission and culture after a recent visit to Savanna La Mar, Jamaica, to visit fellow FMS missioners Patrick and Brandon. After numerous times of re-scheduling dates, I finally got to travel west and visit with FMS missioners Patrick and Brandon!  It is a four hour bus…

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Creating a Space for God

Editor’s Note: Missioner Patrick Montine reflects on the camps in Jamaica that he helped out with this summer and how the camps created a space for children to learn more about God and invite Him into their lives. This summer, I was able to help out at a couple of summer camps. The first one…

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Breaking the Chains

Editor’s Note: Inspired by recent holidays celebrating independence in Jamaica, missioner Janice Smullen reflects on the ideas of intolerance versus emancipation and how they manifest universally across all different cultures. Jamaica celebrates two holidays in the first week of August: Emancipation Day remembered since 1834 and celebrated on August 1, and Independence Day on August…

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Lord, Teach Me to Pray

Editor’s Note: Missioner Janice Smullen reflects on the challenges of her first few months teaching in a primary school in Kingston, Jamaica, and how she has altered her mindset to fit these challenges. Prayer isn’t so much about making something happen, but asking how I may accomplish my best within what is happening. St. Francis…

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Relaxation Is Not Always What the Doctor Ordered

Editor’s Note: Missioner Brandon Newland shares how a particularly bad month in June gave him a deeper appreciation for his blessings as well as a greater awareness of the lasting effects of many people’s struggles in Jamaica. Relaxation is not always what the doctor ordered. Before June started, I felt pretty good about the upcoming…

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A Supportive Presence

Editor’s Note: In light of Father’s Day, missioner Patrick Montine reflects on the role of father figures and how he’s seen them represented in Jamaica. Last weekend I was able to witness the baptism of several little babies out at Saint Mark’s in Grange Hill, Jamaica. There were about seven or eight babies that got baptized;…

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Sorry I Forgot the Camera

Editor’s Note: Missioner Janice Smullen reflects on some of the new sights she’s seen in Jamaica and how sometimes it’s less about getting the photo and more about engaging the people and sharing bits of each other’s stories. There was an old Saturday Night Live skit, probably in the 70’s, with (I think), Buck Henry…

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Communal Living and Surviving Pat

Editor’s Note: Told through stories from his time in Jamaica which highlight some of the lesser-known qualities of his friend and fellow missioner, missioner Brandon Newland reflects on the vital importance of community while on mission. A year and four months have passed on my journey in Savanna-la-Mar, so I thought it would be a…

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Measure in Love

Editor’s Note: Missioner Erin McHugh adapts the lyrics of a well-known song to reflect her experiences during her first few months on mission in Jamaica. I’m sure many of you have heard the song “Seasons of Love” from the Broadway musical Rent. I have heard this song several times in the last month as we…

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Roots

Editor’s Note: Missioner Janice Smullen shares how she’s found comfort learning more about herself as she adjusts to a new life in Jamaica. Putting down new roots is so difficult.  Being new to Jamaica, I feel as if I am continually struggling to find a good foothold, stand secure among swirling cultural forces, and just…

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Ordained and Sent Forth

Editor’s Note: Missioner Patrick Montine shares his experience during a priesthood ordination in Montego Bay, Jamaica. A little while ago, I was afforded the opportunity to attend a priesthood ordination in Montego Bay, Jamaica. It was a very unique and special event to see.  This was the first ordination that the bishop of this diocese…

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Making it Rain

Editor’s Note: Missioner Brandon Newland reflects on the arrival of spring in Jamaica and the deeper life lessons that can be found in gardening. Despite the somewhat mild temperatures of winter in Jamaica, spring is still the beginning of the growing season for many crops. Last year we attempted a rather grandiose garden with one…

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Servant Leadership

Editor’s Note: Missioner Patrick Montine shares how an opportunity to attend a leadership workshop corresponded with his own understanding of servant leadership. A little while ago, I was afforded an opportunity to travel with some of the youth from my parish to a youth leadership workshop in Trelawny, Jamaica. I was able to participate in…

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The Winter Before the Spring

Editor’s Note: Missioner Erin McHugh shares how she trusts that despite some uncertainty, her time on mission in Jamaica will be one of much growth. Spring is beginning back in the States, but we all know that spring doesn’t come without a winter. I felt like this winter I was being hit with one snowstorm…

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“Praised Be You, My Lord, With All Your Creatures”

Editor’s Note: Missioner Janice Smullen reflects on the adjustments during her first month on mission in Jamaica and the beauty that she’s discovered there. “When you send forth your breath, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.”   Ps. 104:30     “Praised be You, my Lord, with all your creatures, especially…

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Letting Go and Accepting God’s Timing For a Call

Editor’s Note: Missioner Janice Smullen reflects on some of the the conversations she had before she left for Jamaica when she explained to others what she was going to do. Often, the response she received was, “I would like to do what you are doing, but…” After these conversations, Janice reflected on the notion of…

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Letting Go: Lent and Larry II

Editor’s Note: Missioner Brandon Newland reflects on letting go of feeling responsible to help others who do not yet want to be helped and learning how to meet people where they’re at instead of where we want them to be. It has been almost a year since we arrived here in Savannah la Mar and…

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