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