Dan McMahon Shares With Us His New Mission Sites

Today was a big day! After a morning at the beach, where we all got a lot of color, we finally found out exactly where we will be working this coming year! I could not be happier with my placements. We will all have a lot of things on our plate, but I can’t wait to get started.

Each PVI is assigned a particular “mission.” In most cases, a mission is a small, rural community affiliated with a larger church in the area. Our jobs in the missions we serve may include teaching or tutoring at the local school, making home visits to elderly residents or those with children, administering a youth group, or working closely with the nun or priest assigned to the mission to the help the community in any number of ways.

I guess you could say I have two main missions. My first is St. John Bosco Boy’s School. In short, it’s an amazing home just outside Mandeville for around 150 boys who are mostly orphaned or abandoned, most having experienced neglect or abuse in their life. In addition to the traditional academic classes they take, the catering program, butcher shop, and—in the opinion of the boys—the football pitch (aka American soccer), provide important training and life skills for once the boys leave at the age of 18. My job there is as yet undetermined, and I have an interview with a director of the school next week. It could be anything—teaching computer classes, being the football coach, tutoring, etc. At any rate, Bosco is one of the main reasons I fell in love with Jamaica when I came in January, and I couldn’t be happier to be working with the boys this year.

My next mission is in a community called Morgans Forest, about an hour outside Mandeville. Its mission church is linked up with St. Thomas More in the larger town of May Pen, which I will discuss later. Morgans Forest is unique in that it is the only completely new mission site this year—never before having a Passionist Volunteer in their community despite the request of community and church leaders for the past several years. This is incredibly exciting that I was chosen for this, although it brings along its own difficulties. My specific job is yet to be determined, but I will be responsible for forging brand new relationships with the community and seeing how they want me to work. On the plus side, I won’t have to struggle with filling anyone else’s shoes or have expectations to live up to!

On Sundays, I will be attending mass at St. Thomas Mo re in May Pen. I visited this church last month during orientation and was warmly welcomed by the community. I will also be responsible for leading a youth group at the church. I met a lot of its members and they were extremely friendly. Casey and I will also be working out of this church for our week of leading Bible Camp next week.

In addition to these sites, I have two other responsibilities. Kaitlin, Casey, Andrea and I are on the retreat planning team for the diocese. We will plan retreats and help by giving talks and leading music. Also, Krystyna and I will be in charge of creating a new youth empowerment program, for the time dubbed PVI Junior. It is intended to help form leaders in the rural communities and create a culture of volunteerism in Jamaica among youth to work alongside us in our missions.

To say I am excited to start this new year is a major understatement!

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Dan helps out in the kitchen with the catering trade boys at St. John Bosco Boys Home

Katherine Merritt Expresses The Model Of Accompaniment In “DO Less And BE More”

Back in my days of summer camp at Camp Foster, there was a sign leading to one of the beach areas that read “God. Others. Self.” Those three simple words have resonated with me ever since my note passing days as an awkward 10-year old camper. 12 years later (yes I’m FINALLY 22), the image of that sign popped into my head during one of our orientation meetings. We were asked to think of what rule(s) we live by, and I immediately thought of the words that I looked at almost daily during my favorite week of the year each summer.

“God. Others. Self.”

In the short 13 days that I have been in Jamaica, my community and I have heard two separate people talk to a theme of doing less and being more. This is not typical in an American lifestyle considering most of us love our busy schedules and are always striving to DO more. But on further reflection of this idea, I realize its importance. In doing all that we DO, we run out of time to BE. During this year of service, my community of fellow PVIs and I are not in Jamaica to simply DO as much as we possibly can, but rather to BE with the people we are serving and accompany them along their life journey, wherever that may take them. Yes, we will be DOing things – whether it be working in a clinic, leading a youth group, teaching, etc. – but throughout our DOing, we will be focused on entering into relationships with the people we interact with and learning from them along the way.

Like I said, this will not be an easy task. I’ll be the first to admit that I love having a busy schedule full of doing as much as I can, but I am excited for the challenge to BE a friend, BE a community member, BE a roommate, BE a friendly face, BE someone that people can trust, and BE a PVI. I am also excited to discover the ways in which BEing more will be translated into DOing more.

“God. Others. Self.”

During my year on this breathtakingly beautiful island, I hope to display the saying on this old sign through my actions and by entering into community with others. I hope to embrace all of the times that I may feel uncomfortable or anxious by not always DOing, but BEing as much of myself as I can for others – always putting them before myself.

I would also like to challenge each of you to think of ways in which you can BE more for someone – anyone at all. Even in my first few days at mission sites, I have realized this importance of this and have seen the impact that it has on others.

So go… DO less. BE more.

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Katherine is pictured on the far right, along with fellow community members (from L to R)

Casey, Andrea and Kaitlin