I have resided for the past ten years with my mother and younger sister in the volatile Waterhouse community, located about ten minutes from St. Pius X .  Over the years, my mother worked hard to provide all that she could for her children, and taught us very early in our lives to be satisfied with the little we had.   Education and Church were the two most essential aspects of our lives while growing up in Waterhouse. Catholic schools were and still are seen by many as the best institutions in Jamaica, and as such, we were sent to the best in the community; the St. Patrick’s Primary School. While attending Primary school, I remember having a fascination with the Catholic Church. It was just so different from the church I attended at the time.  My friends and I would sneak over to attend daily morning mass at St. Patrick’s Church before school began. My fascination led me to attend that church for many years.

In the fifth grade at the age of ten, I was placed at the prestigious Holy Childhood High School for Girls. Even though I was elated about this achievement, I was very worried because I knew that my mother could not afford to pay for tuition, books and transportation. However, she assured me that it would be okay and she did what she had to do. She sought Government aid, and it was received through the “Cost-Sharing Programme” which covered lunch money, transportation and half of my tuition for the five years of high school. The financial challenges began to increase when two years later my sister began high school.  Notwithstanding, I was determined to excel and had my mind set on repaying my mother for what she had done for me. This determination and motivation was embedded in me by supportive family members, friends, teachers, priests (especially Fr. Thomas), a caring Godmother and mentors. I was made to believe, at a very early age, that I could achieve anything if I tried hard enough.

By the end of high school, and having achieved success in my external examinations, I was eager to further my studies and with the help of the church and family I attended another Catholic School, The Convent of Mercy Academy, where I studied the Arts and became more involved in Catholic youth ministry and outreach. By the end of the thirteenth grade, I achieved academic success beyond my imagination. All my friends were thinking of attending university, but while I shared that desire, I was eager to work and support my family. I prayed about it, and my prayers were answered when I received a part scholarship from the Percy and Alice Chang Education Foundation (a Catholic institution), of which I am now the Applications Coordinator. I was able to attend the University of the West Indies in Kingston and attained a B.A in History and International Relations with honours, while working two part-time jobs.

I have called St. Pius X my ‘home away from home’ for the past six years.  I am a member of the Music and Young Adult’s Ministries and serve as cantor, lector, sign language coordinator and youth advisor. I have assisted, alongside a great team of youth at numerous outreach activities including the annual J.O.P. optical mission clinic in 2012. I am BLESSED to be a member of a praying parish that supports the growth and development of its young people. I find St. Pius to be a place where I can go to pray and play with friends. It has been and continues to be my oasis in the desert. This is necessary for a parish like ours, as most of our members live in communities plagued with violence and distractions which make it difficult for us to remain grounded and focused.

I am privileged as a graduate student to be the beneficiary of financial support through the Jamaica Outreach Programme. As a result of your generous donations to the Jamaica Outreach Programme, the lives of other Jamaicans are also being profoundly impacted. The St. Pius X Church Family and surrounding communities are being changed as a result of your intervention and outreach; smiles and sight are being created and restored through the numerous JOP mission trips.

I am grateful for the opportunity to continue my academic endeavours through your J.O.P.  contributions and I am forever grateful for the impact that you have made on the lives of my brothers and sisters here at St. Pius X.  I am sure that I speak for the entire parish when I say thank you, and again, I extend a personal thank you for maintaining my oasis in the desert.