Mending society

Since just 4% of Jamaicans are Catholic, "I am always baffled by the fact that Ash Wednesday is a national holiday," says Pastor Jim Bok of Mary, Gate of Heaven Parish in Negril. But beyond the trek to church for ashes, "I do not sense any kind of special ‘sacrifice’ on the part of the people during Lent."

This year, Bishop Burchell McPherson has tailored the Lenten observance to the needs of his flock. He wants Friday to be "a day of fasting and prayer for the broken state of our society," Jim says. "He is asking for exposition of the Blessed Sacrament in the churches which can be connected with our broken society. And he is encouraging crusades throughout the diocese." Those crusades would be "sort of like a parish mission" in the United States. "They would be a little more ‘evangelical’ than I would be accustomed to in parish missions."

Friar Colin King did one a couple of months ago at St. Mary’s, near Negril, and "the folks were fired up," Jim says. Appropriately, the church is in a place called "Revival".