The six Sisters at the Parish, all of them missionaries, would also help the children with their class assignments and engage them in all manner of fun activities. This, however, did very little to keep the children in Church.
“At 16, the children just stop going to Church. As adolescents, they perhaps don’t find Church appealing anymore,” she says.
The Kenyan-born nun says that people in Jamaica seem to love fun activities. They do not seem to have a keen interest in the deeper understanding of the Church. This, she says, is manifested in the way that they flock crusades that install loud sound systems out in the open, which engage people in singing and dancing.
During the December festivities when most Catholics participate in many church festivities, people in Jamaica flock the market to do shopping and to engage in other fun activities, Sr. Agnes says.
(Story continues below)
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With many church buildings located every few meters in the country, the ASN nun finds it baffling that they are mostly empty.
The number of religious vocations in the Diocese is also dwindling, according to the Catholic nun who expresses her concern over the future of the Church in the country.
Already, a seminary in the Diocese of Mandeville has had to be shut down following many years of not admitting a single student for formation. The youth, who address Sr. Agnes as Miss, have no interest for Religious Life, the nun says.
“I try to talk to many girls and young boys about joining Religious Life and they give me funny reasons why they aren’t attracted to our kind of life and laugh off my request,” she says.
Expressing her biggest worry, the nun says, “I don’t know what will happen if we all leave. All the Sisters here are missionaries and for the past 17 years, we have had people from this Diocese join religious life and leave. No one has stayed.”
Asked about what motivates her to wake up every day and to go about her social work activities, Sr. Agnes says, “I stopped worrying too much. I know that there isn’t anything that the Priest, the Sisters and I haven’t done to get people here to love the Church.”
She says that where Catholics are difficult to deal with in her ministry, she has found consolation in visiting and sharing the Word of God “with anyone who cares to listen,” regardless of their religious affiliations.
“I share the good news with anyone who cares to listen, be it Catholics or not. I visit the homes of everyone, pray with them and share the word of God with all. This is what keeps me going,” the native of Kenya’s Machakos Diocese says.
She adds, “Over the years, I learnt that to be truly happy as a missionary, one needs to build a home wherever they go. I am already home and none of the challenges I face can make me wish to leave.”
Urging her fellow Sisters to embrace missionary life especially to the peripheries, Sr. Agnes says, “It is the best experience. Venturing into the margins where there are lots of difficulties makes one appreciate the strong faith back at home.”
This story was first published by ACI Africa on 13 November 2020