Celebrating the ministry of the Daughters of Divine Love in Jamaica.
The Daughters of Divine Love (DDL) arrived in Jamaica from Nigeria on Feb. 6, 1997. Archbishop Charles Dufour, then Bishop of the Diocese of Montego Bay, welcomed Sisters Victoria Oleka, Izuchukwu Nwora, Margaret Okolieozorh and Providentia Uchena. Sr. Providentia has continued to minister in the diocese, and with the Franciscans, up to today.
Over the years, the DDL’s ministered in many ways to God’s people: parochial work, hospital work and education. They began their ministry at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Savanna-la-mar. Eventually, they expanded their presence to the Archdiocese of Kingston, at the invitation of Archbishop Lawrence Burke.
In 2000, when we Franciscan friars arrived in Jamaica and the Diocese of Montego Bay, who should we meet but the Daughters of Divine Love? For more than 20 years, the friars and DDL’s have ministered together to God’s people.
On April 20 of this year, a wonderful celebration was held at St. Joseph Church in Savanna-la-mar. DDL sisters from the American Region joined the sisters in Jamaica for the celebration. Bishop Burchell McPherson (Montego Bay) was joined by Archbishop Charles Dufour (former Bishop of Montego Bay), Archbishop Kenneth Richards (Kingston) and Bishop John Persuad (Mandeville). Parishioners from faith communities served by the sisters were present in large numbers.
There was an incredible celebration of the Eucharist. Imagine 12 DDL sisters presenting gifts at the offertory, each with a gift and dancing to a Nigerian hymn. And at the end of the dancing procession, Sr. Providentia, 25 years in Jamaica, brought the bread and wine for the Mass.
After the Mass, there was a reception in Sean Lavery Faith Hall. Those sitting at the head table were escorted by a dancing sister, again to Nigerian music. Archbishop Richards fell right in line and danced his way with his escort to the head table. The rest of us paled in comparison.
On the back of the Silver Jubilee program appreciations were mentioned by the sisters. One paragraph touched me deeply: “We want to thank in a special way our friends and benefactors who have been there for us right from the beginning till now, especially the Franciscan friars. They have been wonderful to us.”
In a congratulatory message in the program, I wrote, “We Franciscans have ministered with you for many years in Jamaica. You have blessed us, and we have blessed you, and God’s people have been the beneficiaries.”
The people of Jamaica, especially in Westmoreland, have been blessed by the presence of the DDL sisters for 25 years. And they have been blessed by the presence of the friars for 22 years. God is good? All the time! All the time? God is good!