St. John the Baptist Province Commemorates 10 Years in Jamaica

HNP Communications Franciscan World

CINCINNATI — The friars of St. John the Baptist Province, headquartered here, recently celebrated their 10-year anniversary of ministry in the Caribbean.

Friars went to Jamaica during the last weekend in January to witness the blessing of a new friary in Savanna-la-mar and the ministry of the St. Anthony’s Soup Kitchen. Several friars were returning to the United States, after ministering in Jamaica for years.

The ministry experience in Jamaica has been rewarding, said Provincial Minister Fr. Jeffrey Scheeler, OFM, who wrote in the province’s Jan. 28 newsletter, SJB News Notes, that the ministry has opened the door to a Cincinnati parish partnering with a Jamaica church. Also, Cincinnati high school and college students have gone on service trips to Jamaica. “Our own sense of being a missionary province has been renewed. Our presence here is attractive to those considering joining us,” he wrote.

Fr. Jeffrey was the homilist for the celebration Mass in Jamaica. He recalled how the province has made a difference in Jamaica, by contributing to the construction of a new parish hall in Negril, new mission churches in Little London and Grange Hill, and a new friary/rectory.

“Buildings are one barometer of progress, but they don’t tell the story of a decade of ministry,” the newsletter read. “For that, you need to talk to people.” The newsletter offers interviews of several parish members in Jamaica, who feel blessed to be part of the Franciscan ministry.

The Feb. 4 edition of the newsletter features Fr. Jim Bok, OFM, founder of the soup kitchen in Jamaica and pastor of the parish in Negril. The Feb. 11 issue features an interview with Br. Mark Gehret, OFM, who has ministered in Jamaica.

In addition to celebrating ministry in Jamaica, the province was also preparing to welcome three new postulants, hailing from Indiana, Maryland and New York.

— Compiled by Wendy Healy