Monday, 19 May 2014

CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Close-knit MOP brotherhood remains committed to HoLung’s vision

ALL FOR ONE: Silot greeting Leila McWhinney-Delaney during an international awards night at Emory University last November.

A sizeable number of them tend to their physical wellness by going for evening jogs around their North Street premises. Regular hiking trips to the majestic Blue Mountains seem to excite the nature enthusiasts. Yet for some nothing beats the thrill of belting out high notes in the musical productions put on by Father HoLung and Friends – or loading up the delivery trucks to visit shelters around town to feed the sick and the homeless.

By all appearances, life in the brotherhood of Missionaries of the Poor, one dedicated to selfless Christian service, provides a very well-rounded experience. No wonder the army of young Christian men continues to grow at a steady rate. “Right now we have about 17 [new recruits] who will be making a temporary profession (of faith) at the Bethlehem Chapel soon, and one who will be making full-fledge perpetual profession,” explains Brother Augustus Silot, the chosen successor to enduring patriarch Father Richard HoLung, who is heading into retirement this year.

Like Silot, a stern-looking fellow with deep-set eyes, many of these twentysomething brothers hail from the Philippines and other exotic countries. Having made Jamaica their home, they now reside at either the Hanover Street or North Street MOP compounds, premises that exude the monastic warmth and tropical aura of Hope Gardens. 

With HoLung’s impending retirement, a changing of the guard is essentially what’s transpiring within the ranks of Missionaries of the Poor. But given the familial camaraderie among the closely knit brothers – and their commitment to carrying on HoLung’s legacy – the transition shouldn’t be a difficult one. 

“What really unites us is Christ and, of course, with the use of the scriptures, it helps us being from different countries and nationalities to have one focus,” says Silot. “We pattern our lives after Christ and everyone here tries to be Christ to one another. And regardless of our differences and limitations, we always look to [His] life as an example to see if [He] were here in our midst how [He] would act as a person. So it is Christ that we emulate and try to follow.”

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