Jamaica Service Immersion Experience

Michael Girard, Staff Writer

The Jamaica service immersion team returned very early Sunday morning after an amazing week in Mandeville. The group consisted of Claire Herrmann, Julia Sardella, Kelli Tierney, Julia Walsh, Molly Walsh, Lauren Wiley, Tiffany Thomas, Sue Wetzal, David Alena, and me.

We stayed at the Marian Shrine of Our Lady of Dunsinane and served the Diocese of Mandeville in a number of ways. We met with residents at the Balaclava Home for the Elderly and St. John Bosco Boys’ Home, played with the children at St. Theresa, St. Joseph, and Holy Cross Basic schools, painted at the cathedral and at Holy Cross, and visited the people at Mustard Seed Gift of Hope and the HIV/AIDS support group organized by the Assumption Sisters, to name some highlights.

One of the best things we experienced was devotion, a time taken at the basic schools each morning to pray, sing, and recite the Jamaican national anthem. We finished every day worn out, many of us needing to take naps in the van to make it through, but we were also able to take part in some more relaxing activities.

We visited Frenchmen’s Reef, spending time on the beach for the day, and enjoyed a dinner at The Falls, a restaurant operated by the boys at St. John Bosco, and a pizza dinner served at St. John Bosco.

One of the people who made the trip such a great experience was Vin, our driver and unplanned excursion leader for the week. Whenever we would finish at our service sites, Vin would have planned for us what came to be known as “Vin-ventures” or “ad-Vin-tures.”

We were treated to fresh sugar cane from a roadside shack, a trip to a river in the mountains, an amazing view near Vin’s home, and what had to be the best ice cream on the entire island. We spent our evenings at Dunsinane playing games, usually with David, who was the groundskeeper.

We were all inspired by David’s work ethic and drive, especially after he worked us until we were exhausted as we painted the cathedral. When we left Saturday morning, we were waved off by Sister Maureen and David, who was sporting his new Le Moyne t-shirt.